Qualifying for the HSNCT

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Automatic Qualification

There are two ways in which a school may qualify for the NAQT High School National Championship Tournament:

Invitations to the HSNCT are generally based on the NAQT High School Eligibility Rules, but hosts are permitted (though not encouraged) to deviate from NAQT’s eligibility rules. In general, a team’s performance cannot qualify it to the HSNCT if it would be ineligible to play at the HSNCT (e.g., if it comprises players from multiple schools or includes one or more players who are ineligible to play at the HSNCT under the High School Eligibility Rules). However, NAQT may choose to consider qualification based on other eligibility rules, as for events run by major state activities/athletic associations. In such cases, teams may qualify to the HSNCT despite not satisfying the High School Eligibility Rules, but if they attend the HSNCT, the team there must satisfy the High School Eligibility Rules.

NAQT reserves the right to adjust rankings submitted by hosts to better conform to game results. In such cases, if the host requests it, we will post both the original ranking and NAQT’s ranking (but qualification to the HSNCT will be based on NAQT’s ranking).

Skill-Based Divisions

If a tournament divides its field into varsity and junior varsity divisions (or similar divisions based on skill) that don’t compete against each other, then only teams from the varsity division may qualify for the HSNCT, but the number that qualify will be equal to 15% of the total field from both divisions (rounded up). For instance, if there are 10 varsity and 10 junior-varsity teams, then a total of 3 teams will qualify ((10 + 10) × 15% = 3), but they will all come from the varsity division. Winners of junior varsity divisions are encouraged to apply for wildcards.

School-Based Divisions

If a tournament divides its field into divisions based on school size and/or school type (e.g., public versus private) that don’t compete against each other, then each division will be considered a separate tournament for the sake of qualification. If 10 “class A” schools and 16 “class B” schools attend, then two (10 × (15%) = 1.5, which rounds up to 2) “class A” schools and three (16 × (15%) = 2.4, rounds to 3) “class B” schools will qualify for the HSNCT.

Qualifying Multiple Teams

In order to qualify multiple teams from the same school for the HSNCT, the teams must attend the same tournament and qualify independently. Teams that qualify at different tournaments—even if composed of entirely different students—do not provide their school with more than one berth at the HSNCT. Wildcard consideration will be given to additional teams from the same school that have demonstrated a high quality of play throughout the year.

Invitations Are Not Guaranteed Spots

Qualifying for the HSNCT (that is, receiving an invitation) does not guarantee a team a spot in the field: The tournament has a limited field size, and it is likely that the field will fill and some qualified teams that wish to attend may not be able to. Teams are encouraged to register as soon as they know they have earned a berth (and have secured funding). It is registering for the championship, not qualifying, that guarantees a spot. A limited number of tournaments (mostly state championships) may have national championship berths reserved for their winners.


For an online tournament to be a qualifier, it must require all players to be visible on camera at all times during gameplay.

For a tournament to be a qualifier, participating teams must be allowed to consist of at least three players (but do not need to actually consist of at least three players). In other words, “singles” (“solo”) and “doubles” tournaments cannot be qualifiers.

NAQT reserves the right to designate additional tournaments as qualifiers for the HSNCT as it sees fit. This is extremely rare.

NAQT reserves the right to decide that a tournament is not a qualifier if NAQT believes that the tournament deviated very strongly from acceptable quiz bowl practices or involved substantial aspects that are not quiz bowl, or otherwise at NAQT’s discretion. This is also extremely rare.

NAQT may decline to issue, rescind, or attach additional conditions to an invitation, if it finds that one of more of the recipient school’s players, coaches, or other affiliates engaged in conduct inconsistent with Section K of the NAQT Rules. This may be applied to conduct that occurred at quiz bowl tournaments (regardless of whether the tournaments used the NAQT Rules and/or NAQT questions) or outside of tournaments.

Wildcard Invitations

At specified times, NAQT considers wildcard applications from schools that did not qualify by the above criteria but whose teams have demonstrated a high quality of play in academic competition throughout the year. Particular consideration will be given to schools that, for geographical reasons, had difficulty attending NAQT tournaments.

2023 HSNCT

Wildcard requests for the 2023 HSNCT may be submitted beginning on February 1, 2023.

Due to MSHSAA rules, teams from Missouri that are members of MSHSAA are ineligible to receive wildcard berths.

Small School National Championship Tournament

Qualifiers for the HSNCT are also qualifiers for the Small School National Championship Tournament (SSNCT), assuming at least one small school is present. The SSNCT has its own qualification rules; even if a (small-school) team doesn’t qualify for the HSNCT, it may qualify for the SSNCT.

Standby Teams

Teams located near the tournament site may be interested in attending on a standby basis, even if they have not qualified. Standby teams are not guaranteed a spot in the field, but if there is a last-minute cancellation, they’ll replace the missing team without paying a registration fee.

Special Rulings

NAQT has made a number of special rulings regarding unusual qualification situations.


Questions, comments, or suggestions may be directed to NAQT at hsnct@naqt.com.

Tournament Schedule

NAQT maintains a schedule of high school tournaments, TV shows, conferences, and leagues.

View Schedule

Learn More About the 2023 HSNCT

The 2023 High School National Championship Tournament will take place May 26–28, 2023 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia.

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