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 the 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.

Nationwide, the most common form of competition is the so-called “Saturday tournament,” in 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. Other types of competition include leagues, conferences, competitions run by television stations, and tournaments limited to a specific geographic area or political entity. League and conference matches usually take place on weeknights.

Some tournaments require the coaches of competing teams to assist as moderators or scorekeepers; others provide their own staff. Most tournaments have a registration fee of $40 to $100 that varies with location, length, and amenities. Some tournaments may provide trophies or other awards to their winners; very few, if any, will offer significant prizes.

Any middle school may choose to host a tournament; many high school and college quiz bowl teams also run middle school tournaments as fundraisers.

NAQT sells both tournament and practice questions at the middle school level. NAQT is not the sole provider of such questions: Other vendors exist and some schools may choose to write their own questions. NAQT is also not a universal governing body for all quiz bowl tournaments. NAQT has a sample middle school packet available. NAQT also sells a New Middle School Package containing several question sets for new middle school teams.

Top teams will receive invitations 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 2017 MSNCT featured 160 teams, who came to Dallas, Texas for 22 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 1‑888‑411‑6278 (“NAQT”).