At the Varsity/JV level, to participate at Nationals in the US History Bee, National Science Bee, National Political Science Bee, National Geography Bee and/or the US Geography Championships, students must take a National Qualifying Exam, or NQE. NQEs are available to all students, but please note that Elementary and Middle School students that qualify on NQEs will qualify for Varsity/JV Nationals ONLY and not EMS Nationals, as these tests were intended for high school students. To qualify for EMS Nationals, students must still pass the ORQE and qualify for Nationals at a Regional Finals competition as normal.

Overview

All National Qualifying Exams will be administered either in person at Regional competitions or online. NQEs have 50 multiple choice questions, and students will have 20 minutes to complete them. Students receive 2 points for a correct answer, 0 points for an answer left blank, and -1 point for an incorrect response. Students cannot retake NQEs but can attempt to qualify on a different question set.

Students will be assigned to Varsity or JV divisions based on their grade, so 11th and 12th grade is Varsity, while 10th grade and lower is Junior Varsity. The exception to this rule is the Geography NQE, where divisions are based on birthdates, not grade level. For the upcoming Geography NQEs taken during the 24-25 school year, students born before July 1, 2009 are placed in the Varsity division, while anyone born on or after that date is considered Junior Varsity.

The opening and closing dates of the exams are the same as our Regional competitions, and after a given exam has been available for a time, all scores up to that point will be used to calculate a qualifying score, and anyone who scores at or above that number (the top half of scores for each exam) will qualify for Nationals. If that score is determined to be over 75, the qualifying score will be automatically set to 75. Students can still take NQEs after the qualifying score has been determined; to qualify, the student must instead meet or exceed the qualifying score to qualify for Nationals.

  • 2024-25 C set exams are not currently available, but should be available in late 2024, with qualifying scores set in early December 2024.
  • 2024-25 B set exams are not currently available but should be available in late 2024 or early 2025, with qualifying scores being set about a month afterwards.
  • 2024-25 A set exams are not currently available, but should be available in early 2025, with qualifying scores set in early March 2025

    The C and B sets are generally the same difficulty, but the A set is meant to approach AP difficulty and is harder than the other two sets.
    All exam versions will be available online to students until mid-April 2025.

While it’s too late to take the NQEs to qualify for Nationals for the 23-24 competition year, it is still possible to qualify for the International Geography Championships and International Environmental Science Olympiad by taking the Geography and Science NQE’s. Event-specific qualifying exams are also available for the International Environmental Science Olympiad and International History Olympiad. More details for qualifying for international events and costs for exams can be found here.

Payment
As of May 1st, online exams (see below) cost $20 per exam plus a processing fee if paying by card. Please be prepared to take the test when you pay for the exam, as it may not be possible to take the test later once it’s paid for. If you wish to pay for an online exam by check or wish to register many students for an online exam at once, please email hs-info@iacompetitions.com. You can also take NQEs at a Regional tournament for $20 per exam, payable by cash or check.

Qualification
Individuals qualify for the US History Bee, National Geography Bee, US Geography Championships, National Political Science Bee, and National Science Bee at V/JV Nationals by:

  • Taking the respective NQE at any in-person V/JV Regional competition and either:
    • scoring a 75 or higher or
    • finishing in the top 50% of their division at that location
  • Taking the respective NQE online and either:
    • scoring a 75 or higher or
    • meeting or beating the qualifying score for that exam once it is set

NOTE: Students qualify for Varsity/JV Nationals in both the National Geography Bee and the US Geography Championships upon passing the Geography NQE.

Click the link of the NQE you wish to take. Exams in bold indicate the exam is available and is available until mid-April 2025.

Results will be updated periodically at the links below.

US History Bee