Middle School Quiz Bowl

At the middle school level, quiz bowl is a competitive, academic, interscholastic activity for which players attend periodic practices and then represent their school at tournaments. Those tournaments may be based on the school’s athletic conference, school district, county, or state; they may also be open to all comers.

Quiz bowl questions range over the entire spectrum of a middle school curriculum and also include a certain amount of current events, sports, and popular culture. The matches feature a blend of individual competition and team collaboration, since no individual player is likely to be an expert in all subject areas. Quiz bowl can reinforce classroom lessons and also encourage players to go beyond their assignments to master other areas as well.

The two major aspects to a school’s quiz bowl program are practicing and competing at tournaments.

Teams will usually practice weekly, but more dedicated teams choose to do so more frequently, particularly in weeks leading up to major tournaments. Most practices consist of intrasquad games, but some may also include alternate activities to emphasize particular subject areas. Schools have complete latitude to schedule and arrange their practices as they feel is appropriate.

Tournaments that use NAQT’s eligibility rules are open to all middle school students (grades 6–8), including those from public schools, private schools, religious schools, charter schools, magnet schools, and so on. Those tournaments are also open to home school collectives with students of an appropriate age.

A school’s quiz bowl season would generally run from early October until late April, though events do occur both before and after those thresholds. Teams will usually practice weekly, but more dedicated teams choose to do so more frequently, particularly in weeks leading up to major tournaments. Most practices consist of intrasquad games, but some may also include alternate activities to emphasize particular subject areas.

Nationwide, most quiz bowl events are tournaments on Saturday, for which anywhere from 4 to 104 teams from different schools drive to a central location (the “host”) and play five to twelve matches, each of which takes about 30 minutes. Some regions have tournaments nearly every non-holiday weekend of the school year; others have just a few. There are also leagues, conferences, and other types of events in some parts of the country. (League and conference matches usually take place on weeknights.)

Most tournaments let schools enter multiple teams; schools wishing to do so will group their players according to complementary strengths and designate the teams “A,” “B,” and so on. Regardless of the size of a team, four players play at a time.

Some tournaments require the coaches of competing teams to assist as moderators or scorekeepers; other provide their own staff. Most tournaments have a registration fee of $40 to $100 that varies with location, length, and amenities.

Any middle school may choose to host a tournament, which can serve as a fundraiser for its team. Many college quiz bowl teams also run middle school tournaments as fundraisers and to entice players into considering them for their post-secondary education. Some tournaments are run by community organizations like Rotary Clubs.

NAQT sells both tournament and practice questions (including a New Middle School Package for beginning teams). NAQT is not a universal governing body for all quiz bowl tournaments. NAQT has a sample middle school packet available.

Top teams from local events are invited to the NAQT Middle School National Championship Tournament (MSNCT). This is a weekend event near the end of the school year that allows the nation’s top teams to compete against each other. The 2018 MSNCT featured 192 teams, who came to Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago) for 23 rounds of amazing competition.

NAQT is a national quiz bowl format; many states also have their own forms of quiz bowl organized by a state activities association. Most active teams choose to compete in both; there are certainly differences among the various options, but, by and large, they are all activities that glorify learning and players that enjoy one are likely to enjoy the others.

NAQT is always willing to provide guidance to coaches, students, or parents interested in starting a new team or to players interested in improving.

NAQT has made available a New Middle School package of practice questions; it includes three regular tournament sets, one set from the Middle School National Championship Tournament, and an abbreviated copy of our Frequency List study guides, all for the deeply discounted price of $99.

If you’d be interested in learning more about quiz bowl, please don’t hesitate to contact us at ms@naqt.com or by phone at 888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”).

Starting a Middle School Team

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Tournament Schedule

NAQT maintains a schedule of middle school tournaments, conferences, and leagues.

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