Qualifying for the MSNCT

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Automatic Qualification

There are three ways in which a school may automatically qualify for the Middle School National Championship Tournament:

Invitations to the MSNCT are generally based on the NAQT Middle 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 MSNCT if it would be ineligible to play at the MSNCT (e.g., if it comprises players from multiple schools or includes one or more players who are ineligible to play at the MSNCT under the Middle 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 MSNCT despite not satisfying the Middle School Eligibility Rules, but if they attend the MSNCT, 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 MSNCT 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 MSNCT, 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 MSNCT.

Qualifying Multiple Teams

In order to qualify multiple teams from the same school for the MSNCT, 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 MSNCT. 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 SSNCT (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 possible that the field will fill and some qualifiers 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.


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 MSNCT 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.

2024 MSNCT

Wildcard requests for the 2024 MSNCT may be submitted beginning on January 1, 2024.

Standby Teams

Teams located near the tournament site, or ‘B’ and subsequent teams from schools attending the championship, may be interested in attending on a standby basis. Standby teams are not guaranteed a spot in the field but may be used to replace teams who cancel very late or fail to show up, or otherwise to facilitate a good tournament schedule. Standby teams are not required to qualify and do not pay an entry 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 msnct@naqt.com.

Tournament Schedule

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

View Schedule

Learn More About the 2024 MSNCT

The 2024 Middle School National Championship Tournament will take place May 10–12, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois (near Chicago).

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