Qualifying for the ICT

ICT logo

The Intercollegiate Championship Tournament (ICT) is NAQT’s premier event for teams representing colleges and universities. Qualification for the ICT revolves around NAQT’s Sectional Championship Tournaments (SCTs): Essentially all invitations will be given for performance at those tournaments or for assisting with them (via editing or hosting).

Invitations are assigned via a series of tiers, such that every team in a higher tier will be invited before any team in a lower tier. Every team that competes at an SCT will be assigned a position in one of the tiers, and the tiers will also contain schools that are earning bids for hosting tournaments. This system is used for both Division I and Division II, though some specific tiers may apply to only one of the divisions.

The tiers will be used to rank all potential invitees (primarily teams that competed at SCTs, but also schools that hosted SCTs or whose programs contributed guest editors). Initial invitations will be given to the highest-ranked teams, up to the respective field caps of each division. The remaining teams will form a waitlist (in the same order) in case an initial invitation is declined.

The tiers (and invitations) for each division will be determined independently; the performance of a school’s Division I teams does not affect the tiers to which its Division II teams are assigned (and vice versa).

Tier 1 (Highest): Top 20 Teams by D-Value

The first 20 invitations will go to the 20 teams with the highest D-Values. The D-Value is a statistic developed by quiz bowl community (and then updated by NAQT in 2018) to compare teams that compete at different tournaments; it takes into account performance on tossups and bonuses as well as a team’s strength of schedule. A tie for the 20th position among teams at the same SCT will be broken first by order of finish, then by raw D-Value, and then by random draw; a tie among teams at different SCTs will be broken by random draw.

Tier 2: Editing Autobids (usually Division I only)

NAQT typically invites one or two prominent collegiate players to assist with the production of the Sectionals set (which prevents them from competing on it). Each program that provides such guest editors will receive one invitation in this tier (even if multiple players from that school contribute).

These bids must be taken in Division I, unless one or more guest editors is eligible for Division II; in the latter case, the school may choose either division.

Tier 3: Hosting Autobids

All schools that earned autobids by hosting an SCT will be given an invitation in this tier. Merely being the site of an SCT (and providing rooms) is not sufficient to earn an autobid: The host program must, in general, provide the tournament director, organize the event, and take responsibility for ensuring the event is fully staffed. In most cases, earning an autobid by hosting will require that a school’s most experienced players refrain from playing (so they can act as staff).

By default, a host school’s autobid will be in Division I. A school has from the time of its selection as a host until 24 hours after the conclusion of its tournament to switch its bid to Division II. The number of hosts that are allowed to switch is limited, so requests will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis.

Tier 4: CCCT Autobids (Division II only)

The top finishers at the Community College Championship Tournament (CCCT) will receive invitations to the ICT in Division II. The specific number may depend on the field sizes of the CCCT and Division II of the ICT; for a 24-team CCCT and a 32-team Division II ICT, there will be four such invitations. These teams’ identities will not be known when the initial ICT invitations are issued.

Guaranteed Tiers

Tiers 1–4 are guaranteed tiers in that every team belonging to them is guaranteed to receive an invitation in the first batch of ICT invitations. That is, NAQT will ensure that the total number of invitations issued via Tiers 1–4 will not cause the field cap to be exceeded.

Tier 5: SCT Champions

All winners of an SCT division with at least four teams from at least three schools will be ranked next in order of D-Value. If an SCT has reported co-champions, NAQT may break the tie at its discretion. In the event of a combined-field SCT, there must be four teams from three schools in the team’s division (regardless of the number from the other division).

Tier 6: Undergraduate SCT Champions (Division I only)

The top undergraduate team from each SCT that had at least four Division I undergraduate teams from at least three schools are ranked next in order of D-Value. The determination of the “top” undergraduate team is by order of finish (not by D-Value); if the host reported teams being tied, NAQT may break the tie at its discretion.

Teams that qualify in this tier must compete with an undergraduate-only roster at the ICT. If an invitation resulting from a Tier-6 ranking is declined due to a desire to bring players ineligible for the undergraduate title, the team will be re-ranked (and potentially re-invited) via Tier 7 (but no replacement Tier-6 invitation will be made to the second-best undergraduate team).

Tier 7: All Remaining Teams

All teams not yet ranked are now ranked by D-Value.

Teams from the Community College Championship Tournament who did not receive Tier-4 invitations will be interpolated into the existing waitlist according to their D-Values. However, even if such a team has a D-Value that would have qualified it for a Tier-1 invitation, it will not be retroactively awarded such an invitation (but will instead be placed on the waitlist in the appropriate slot).


The ICT waitlist will consist of all potential invitees that did not receive one of the initial invitations. If a team declines its invitation, the next team on the waitlist will be invited.

If an invitation is declined and then “un-declined,” the team will be added to the top of the waitlist but will not be given priority over teams with unaccepted invitations that were originally ranked below it. (That is, it will need to wait for another team to decline its invitation, but it will be the first to be re-invited should that occur.)

Interaction of Tiers

In some cases, a school’s presence in a higher tier may affect how its teams (or its hosting) are evaluated in lower tiers. In particular…

The above rules only affect invitations in the same division; for instance, a school that chooses to take its Tier-3 hosting bid in Division I does not have that ignored by having one of its Division II teams earn a Tier-1 invitation.

The overall purpose of these rules is to make sure that no more than one ICT invitation can be traced to a single team and to reduce the incentive for a host school to field teams with its best players (rather than having them staff the tournament).

Team Composition

The qualification tiers in this document are generally described via the ranking of teams, but the actual invitations are made to the schools represented by those teams (rather than to the specific set of players on that team). A school that receives an invitation may send any eligible players even if they did not compete at Sectionals, competed at Sectionals on a team that did not qualify, competed at Sectionals on a different team that did qualify, or competed at Sectionals in another division. This is true even if a school receives multiple bids; there is no requirement that the same players who earned those bids play on the same teams (or play at all) at the ICT.

Schools that earn Division I invitations may send teams that are eligible for the Division I (Undergraduate) title or not, as they see fit (unless the team received its rank via Tier 6).

Losing Eligibility For Division II

In general, being invited to or playing in the ICT costs a player their Division II eligibility if they play for a four-year college or university. Read the Division II eligibility rules for details.

Wildcard Invitations

NAQT considers wildcard applications from schools that did not qualify (or do not anticipate qualifying) by the above criteria but whose teams have demonstrated a high quality of play in academic competition throughout the year. It is likely, however, that serious consideration will be reserved for schools that, for geographic reasons, had difficulty attending NAQT tournaments. (Historically, wildcard invitations have been very rarely given.)

NAQT reserves the right to accept wildcard applications at any time after they have been submitted; that is, NAQT may accept particularly strong applications immediately but may postpone making a decision on others until further tournaments have completed or it has a better idea how many ICT spots will be taken by automatic qualifiers. Teams may inquire as to the status of their request at any time. NAQT understands that wildcard teams need to know whether or not they can attend the tournament as soon as possible and will make every effort to contact teams as soon as a final decision has been made about their request.

2024 ICT

Wildcard requests for the 2024 ICT are no longer being considered as of February 8, 2024.

NAQT is only likely to grant distance-based wildcard requests from schools for which the nearest SCT site would require a full day of traveling in each direction (in addition to the day of playing the tournament).

NAQT may place wildcard teams in any tier at its discretion. If the chosen tier is not a guaranteed tier, NAQT will rank the team relative to the others in the tier at its own discretion.

Standby Teams

Teams located near the tournament site may be interested in attending on a standby basis. 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.

Standby teams are not part of the tier system, as they are not issued invitations in advance.


NAQT reserves the right to interpret these rules and resolve ambiguities as it sees fit. NAQT may also alter the invitation order generated by these rules if it appears manifestly unfair.

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 Official NAQT Rules. This may be applied to conduct that occurred at quiz bowl tournaments (regardless of whether the tournaments used the Official NAQT Rules and/or NAQT questions) or outside of tournaments.


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

Tournament Schedule

NAQT maintains a schedule of college events, including novice tournaments, sectional championships, and the Intercollegiate Championship Tournament.

View Schedule

Learn More About the 2024 ICT

The 2024 Intercollegiate Championship Tournament will take place April 5–6, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago).

Read More