National History Bee – Middle & Elementary School Divisionsdhobeika2023-11-17T11:51:07-05:00
National History Bee
Middle & Elementary School Divisions Homepage
2023 National Champions:
Padraig Finan, Risdon Middle School, WA (8th Grade)
Malcolm McIntyre, Alice Deal Middle School, DC (7th Grade)
Sebastian Jones, Dent Middle School, SC (6th Grade)
Miller Angevine, Woodward Academy, GA (5th Grade)
Aarnav Rudraraju, Challenger Ardenwood, CA (4th Grade & Younger)
The National History Bee Middle & Elementary School Divisions Overview
The National History Bee is a quiz competition for individual students, testing knowledge of the history of all eras and all parts of the world. Students first take the free Online Regional Qualifying Exam (ORQE) which is available in the fall. Approximately 60% of these students move on to the Regional Finals. Regional Finals are held both online and in-person from October-May and feature paragraph length quiz questions with questions moving from harder to easier information on each topic. Students ring in with a buzzer to answer the questions; if they are correct they get the point; if not, they cannot ring in again on that question. The top 50% of students in each age division at each Regional Finals qualify for the 2024 National History Bee National Championships on Memorial Day weekend in Orlando, which also feature buzzer-based rounds in this format.
Eligibility: Students in 8th grade and younger. There is no younger age limit.
Competitors: Individual students. Separate age divisions for 8th Graders, 7th Graders, 6th Graders, 5th Graders, 4th Graders, and for students in 3rd Grade and Younger.
Competition Style: Three Stages. (1) Online Regional Qualifying Exam (50 questions, multiple-choice, 20 minute time limit). (2) Regional Finals. 3 preliminary rounds of buzzer-based competition, with a final round to determine the top finishers in each age division. Both in-person and online tournaments are held; students may compete at up to 3 sites during the academic year. (3) National Championships. 4 preliminary rounds of buzzer-based competition, 3 buzzer-based rounds of playoffs in each age division.
For students competing in the Middle School and Elementary School Divisions, the National History Bee is a three-stage competition, consisting of an Online Regional Qualifying Exam, the Regional Finals, and the National Championships. Students can also qualify for the International History Olympiad by competing in the National History Bee.
Online Regional Qualifying Exam
The first stage of the National History Bee for the Middle and Elementary School Divisions is the Online Regional Qualifying Exam (ORQE). Prior to taking the ORQE, teachers, administrators, parents, or another adult family member must first create a free sponsor account at www.iac-exams.com. Once they have created an account, sponsors will receive the link to the exams, and students can take the ORQE at any point. There is no cost to take the ORQE and there is no hard deadline for students to take it: the ORQE will remain available until the registration deadline for the last Regional Finals passes. However, we recommend that students take the ORQE as early as possible in the academic year so that they have more time to prepare for the Regional Finals and compete at up to 3 Regional Finals sites if they qualify.
Online Regional Qualifying Exam: Exam Structure
The ORQE is a 50 question multiple choice exam (4 answer choices per question) on all aspects of world history. Students have 20 minutes to take the exam, and the exam is scored automatically and immediately. In most cases, sponsors will see if the student qualified immediately in the Sponsor Dashboard, though early in the academic year, some students may receive a designation of “pending” if their score is close to where the qualifying cutoff score will be set. Once it is set, the pending designation will be removed and students will be listed as Qualified or Did Not Qualify in the Sponsor Dashboard.
There is no penalty for an incorrect answer, so students should answer each question as best as they can. The exam is designed so that on harder questions, students can often rule out 1 or 2 answer choices. About half of the questions have a visual component (i.e. a map, photograph, chart, etc.); for visually-impaired students who need to have the exam read out loud to them, these questions are not counted and their scores are prorated.
Online Regional Qualifying Exam: How to Prepare & Qualification Procedures
Students should use the ORQE versions from prior years to prepare (see Practice Resources), and perhaps review some basic knowledge of famous people and events in history. Nationwide, approximately 60% of students who take the ORQE will qualify for the Regional Finals. The qualifying scores vary from year to year and by age division, but typically students need to answer 20-25 of the questions correctly in order to qualify. If students do not qualify on the ORQE, a second-chance ORQE is available beginning in January so that they can try again.
The second stage of the National History Bee for the Middle and Elementary School Divisions is the Regional Finals. The Regional Finals are held throughout the year both online and in person. A full list of Regional Finals is available hereon the Registration page. Students who have qualified on the ORQE may compete up to 3 times at the Regional Finals. The Regional Finals tournaments are held in conjunction with the Regional Finals for the National Geography Bee and National Science Bee, so students who qualified on the ORQEs for those subjects can compete in all 3 events.
Regional Finals: Timing of Tournaments
At in-person Regional tournaments, typically the History Bee is held in the morning; the Geography Bee is held in the early afternoon, and the Science Bee is held in the late afternoon. At online tournaments, the Bees for two subjects are held on a Saturday, and the third is held on Sunday afternoon. The time and day that each subject is contested on an online event varies from one tournament to another, so that students who cannot compete on Saturdays (or Sundays) will have options to play all subjects at their preferred time over the course of the academic year.
Regional Finals: Tournament Structure
The Regional Finals consists of 3 preliminary rounds, each with 30 questions, and 1 Final Round, likewise with 30 questions. All students play in all preliminary rounds; the scores are then added together to determine placement. Typically 20-50% of students then make the Final Round to determine the Regional Champion in each age division. To qualify for the National Championships, students must finish in the top 50% of their age division after the preliminaries rounds, inclusive of odd numbers and ties for the final Nationals spot. There are separate age divisions for students in 8th grade, 7th grade, 6th grade, 5th grade, 4th grade, and 3rd grade and younger. At some tournamentswith small numbers of students in an age division, two or more divisions may be consolidated. However, the qualification for the National Championships will be determined solely based on a student’s official age division: students are never at a disadvantage in terms of national championships qualifying if age divisions must be consolidated.
Regional Finals: Game Play Rules
All questions at the Regional Finals are played using a buzzer system and take the form of a short paragraph.Please see here for sample questions to practice with. The questions are read out loud to students, and the clues in each question are arranged in descending order of difficulty. Students buzz in as soon as they think they know the answer. If they are correct, they score a point; if they are incorrect, they cannot ring in again on that question. Three incorrect answers kills the question. If a student is the third student incorrect before the end of the question, they lose a point (because they have killed the question for the remaining students who now are unable to hear the rest of the question). If they are the first or second student incorrect, or if they are the 3rd student to answer incorrectly but the question has already been read to completion, they do not lose a point.
Once students reach 5 points in a round, they are done for the rest of the round. This ensures that if one student is particularly gifted, they will not run away with most of the questions while the other students get frustrated. However, students can earn up to 10 bonus points in each round depending on how quickly they go out (i.e. a student who answers the first 5 questions correctly scores 15 for the round).
Regional Finals: Study Guides
Each Regional Finals is played using one of three question sets: Red, White, or Blue. There is no difference between the sets in terms of content focus or difficulty. Students can compete at up to 3 Regional Finals, once on each question set.Each question set has a Study Guidethat is compiled once the questions for that question set have been written, so students who are competing at a tournament should review the correct study guide in advance! The Study Guides do not contain information on every question in the tournament, but they typically reference things to know about harder topics that will come up.
Regional Finals: Tournament Registration and Logistics
Students and their families must register for each Regional Finals tournament on the Registration Page. Typically, the deadline is 12 days in advance of each tournament, but please check the Registration Page to be sure. After the deadline passes, a wait list is maintained for each tournament: we will attempt to accommodate as many students as possible, but we need to ensure sufficient staff first. The cost to compete in the Regional Finals of the National History Bee is $47 per tournament with a $10 surcharge if registered for after the deadline. There is no obligation to bring a question reader or buzzer system to the tournament; IAC will provide these. An email will be sent in the week prior to each tournament, as well as within a week after the tournament with further logistical details.
The third stage of the National History Bee for the Middle and Elementary School Divisions is the National Championships, which for the 2023-24 academic year will take place at the Hyatt Regency Orlando from May 23-27, 2024. The rounds for the National History Bee will begin on the morning of May 24 and end on the late afternoon of May 26. The National Championships for the National History Bee are also held in conjunction with the National Championships of the National Geography Bee, National Science Bee, and many other events. Students who have qualified for the National Championships in the National History Bee are also qualified for and encouraged to compete in the all-American History-focused US History Bee and the National History Bowl, a buzzer-based competition for teams of students from a school or homeschool association. Solo student teams are also welcome and encouraged to compete in the History Bowl. There are also a number of History-themed National Championship Exams. Each event is held at different times during the weekend, so students who wish to compete in multiple events may do so.
National Championships: Tournament Structure
At the National Championships, all students compete in 4 preliminary rounds using the same style of questions on which they played at the Regional Finals. The rounds are held in different blocks of 2 rounds each which are played back to back. Students are assigned to 2 blocks based on their full schedule of events for the weekend. Students’ preliminary round point totals are summed, and then the top students (usually around the top 25-35%) qualify for the Playoff Rounds. The number of students who qualify for the playoffs is a function of enrollment in each age division at Nationals, and will be clarified to all before the competition begins.
The cost to compete at the 2024 National History Bee National Championships is $149, or $145 if registration takes place before December 31, 2023. Registration for the National Championships opens in November and runs through early May on this page. We are expecting approximately 1000 students to attend the 2024 National History Bee National Championships! Nationals weekend will also feature many other events, including the Opening Ceremonies, a Family Quiz Night, Universal Studios Night, Intro to Model United Nations, various talks and receptions, and the Jeopardy! Charity Games. A full schedule of the 2024 Nationals Events is available here.
Students who compete in the Middle and Elementary School Divisions of the National History Bee can qualify for the 2025 International History Olympiad which will likely be held in London in July 2025! Students qualify for the International History Olympiad by finishing in the top 25% in their age division at any 2023-24 or 2024-25 Regional Finals tournament or National History Bowl Regional Tournament, or in the top 50% at the 2024 or 2025 National Championships of the National History Bee or National History Bowl. There are other qualifying methodsas explained here, but qualifying through performance in the National History Bee or National History Bowl is the most common approach.
The International History Olympiad is a week-long event with numerous competitions, field trips, family activities and more. In each event, medals are awarded to the top 3 competing students in each age division. US students compete for their state; students from other countries (or students in the USA who were born abroad or who have foreign citizenship) represent those countries. Two of the most prestigious events at the Olympiad are the International History Bee World Championships and the International History Bowl World Championships; an overall Olympiad Championship title is also awarded in each age division; please view the website atwww.historyolympiad.comfor further details on all events and to register. We are expecting 300-400 students from around the world to attend the 2025 International History Olympiad!
National History Bee Regional Tournaments: Students who compete at a Varsity / Junior Varsity National History Bee and Bowl Regional Tournament that has a Middle School Division in the History Bowl can also compete in a Middle School division of the National History Bee which is held at that tournament site. Students who compete in the Middle School History Bee at those tournaments do not need to have taken the Online Regional Qualifying Exam.
Cost: The History Bee at these tournaments costs $25.
Readers: If students are competing in the History Bowl at these tournaments, then they also need to provide an adult who can help read the questions; this reader would also need to help read questions in the History Bee.
Nationals Qualification: Students can still qualify for the Middle School National Championships of the National History Bee through these events.
Competition Style: These events work the exact same way as the Regional Finals (i.e. 3 rounds of preliminaries with 30 questions, 1 round of finals with the same rules.)
The only official deadline is that students must take the ORQE prior to the last Regional Finals tournament of the year (typically in late April or early May). That said, we recommend taking the ORQE early in the school year (ideally in the fall) so that students can have sufficient time to prepare for the Regional Finals if they qualify, and so that they can have a chance to play all three sets of questions (Red, White, and Blue) at the Regional Finals.
Basically, we want students who qualify to enjoy the experience of competing at the Regional Finals. Our experience has shown that if we set the minimum qualifying score where we do, then this includes as many students who have the minimum knowledge basis to enjoy Regionals without including students who would otherwise find it too difficult.
We do not intend for there to be any content difference nor difference in difficulty, though of course some students may find that one set of questions happens to have more questions that they know the answer to than another.
The hotels where we have room blocks, especially the host hotel, provide us with meeting space to hold the competitions and with sleeping accommodations for our staff, which we need to fly in from around the country. They do this in return for a commitment to fulfill a large number of sleeping room bookings over the course of Nationals weekend. For students who live near the Nationals host site for whom it would make sense to attend Nationals as a day trip and go back to their home each night, this rule does not apply.
Generally speaking, no, though at any given tournament, including the National Championships, each Bee may take a different number of students in the final round (at Regionals) or the playoff rounds (at Nationals) which is a function of the number of students that register for each competition in each age division. The other exception is that in the National History Bee alone, students who compete at a Regional Tournament of the National History Bowl can play in the National History Bee that is held at that tournament without needing to take the History ORQE in advance. This does not affect the National History Bee, however.
Yes! They are actively encouraged to do so, and if they do so, they would play in the Junior Varsity Division which includes students in the 9th and 10th grade. Students cannot transfer qualification in the National Championships at the Junior Varsity level to the Middle or Elementary School level National Championships. For more information on how the National History Bee works at the high school level, please visit the National History Bee Varsity & Junior Varsity Divisions Homepage.
Additional history questions are found under the Schedule & Event Information tab on the International History Olympiad site though some are in different formats from those used in the National History Bee.