Qualifying for the SSNCT
There are two classes of small schools that will compete in separate divisions at the Small School National Championship Tournament. The first division, designated the Traditional Public Schools Division, is for public schools with 500 or fewer students in their top three grades (which must overlap grades 9–12), and that are the default school for their district. The second division, designated the Open Division, is for all other schools with 350 or fewer students in their top three grades. The full definitions of the two divisions are available here.
There are three ways in which a school may automatically qualify for the Small School National Championship Tournament:
Finishing in the top 30% of Small Schools at a high school varsity tournament that uses NAQT questions and is attended by teams from at least three schools.
- This includes traditional one-day tournaments, leagues, televised tournaments, and all other events that use questions provided by NAQT (regardless of whether they use NAQT gameplay rules), as long as their results can be interpreted as having a coherent ranking of the teams that play them.
- In general, every team tied for a spot in the top 30% receives an invitation, though NAQT reserves the right to break ties reported by the host at its discretion (and so award fewer qualifications).
- To qualify, a team must win at least one game.
- This qualification is handled separately for each division of the SSNCT (Traditional Public Schools and Open), and it “rounds up.” Therefore, if a tournament has 6 teams from schools that qualify for the Traditional Public Schools Division of the SSNCT, 9 Small School teams from schools that qualify for the Open Division, and 15 teams that do not qualify for either division of the SSNCT, then the top 2 of the first set of teams will qualify for the Traditional Public Schools Division of the SSNCT and the top 3 of the second set of teams will qualify for the Open Division (even if all of the Traditional Public Schools teams finished higher than all of the Open teams, but subject to the one-win requirement above).
- The “teams from at least three schools” criterion refers to the total number of distinct schools (not teams) at the tournament, not Small Schools. Therefore, if ten schools attend a tournament but only one is a Small School, that school will certainly qualify for the SSNCT, as long as the tournament meets all the other criteria and the school’s team wins at least one game.
- “Varsity” means that the tournament must not use rules that exclude schools, teams, or players on the basis of stronger ability in quiz bowl, stronger academic ability, or other similar factors (including the perception of such factors), nor may it be limited to younger players by age or grade.
Being the highest-placing team from a Small School in any class or division of a varsity state championship (or championship of a region or equivalent or larger scope, such as provinces, countries, and multi-country regions) with rules and questions similar to those of NAQT.
- Such events must be run by recognized administrative bodies whose scope is the entirety of the state (or other applicable region).
- To qualify, a team must win at least one game.
- This qualification is handled separately for each division of the SSNCT (Traditional Public Schools and Open).
- The same definition of “varsity” applies as from the previous qualification criterion.
Furthermore, the qualifying team might not be the class winner if that winner is not eligible for the SSNCT division in question. For example, if the Winnemac Class 2A division were open to schools with 250 to 600 students in grades 10–12, and its order of finish were…
- West High School (public, 550 students)
- Performing Arts Charter (lottery-based charter, 320 students)
- St. John’s (private, 280 students)
- East High School (public, 450 students)
- Any eligible team that qualifies for the HSNCT automatically receives an invitation to the SSNCT. This could occur (without qualifying via the first criterion) if two Small School teams finished in first and second places at a ten-team tournament at which all of the rest of the teams are from large schools.
Invitations to the SSNCT are generally based on the NAQT High School Eligibility Rules, but hosts are permitted to deviate from NAQT’s eligibility rules. In general, a team’s performance cannot qualify it to the SSNCT if it would be ineligible to play at the SSNCT (e.g., if it comprises players from multiple schools or includes one or more players who are ineligible to play at the SSNCT 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 SSNCT despite not satisfying the High School Eligibility Rules, but if they attend the SSNCT, 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 SSNCT will be based on NAQT’s ranking).
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 the number of invitations issued for each division of the SSNCT will be 30% of the total count of eligible teams across all divisions, but all teams in an upper division will be ranked above those in a lower division (regardless of record or statistics). (Divisions that don’t use questions from NAQT will be ignored for this purpose of calculating the total number of teams.)
For example, suppose the varsity division has eight teams from schools eligible for the Traditional Public Schools Division and twelve non-Small School teams, while the junior varsity division has four teams from schools eligible for the Traditional Public Schools Division and twelve non-Small School teams. Then a total of four (30% × (8 + 4) = 3.6, rounded up) SSNCT invitations would be awarded, and they would be given to the top four small schools in the varsity division. The top small schools from junior varsity divisions are encouraged to apply for wildcards.
If a tournament divides its field into divisions based on school size and/or school type that don’t compete against each other, then each division will be considered a separate tournament for the sake of qualification, and small schools will qualify from each independently.
HSNCT versus SSNCT Invitations
A small school team may earn an invitation to both the High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) and the SSNCT with a single performance.
Because those events are held on different dates (and use different questions), those schools are encouraged to attend both championships.
Qualifying Multiple Teams
In order to qualify multiple teams from the same school for the SSNCT, 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 SSNCT. 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 SSNCT 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.
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.
Wildcard requests for the 2024 SSNCT may now be submitted. Applications will be accepted until April 5, 2024.
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.
NAQT has made a number of special rulings regarding unusual qualification situations.
Questions, comments, or suggestions may be directed to NAQT at email@example.com.