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The National History Bowl is a buzzer-based history quiz competition for teams of a maximum of 6 students. Up to four students can play at one time on a team (the other one or two students, if you have them, can substitute in between the quarters or games, they may not substitute during a quarter). There is no minimum number of students on a team; you can have a team of three, two, or even one student.

Students who form a team must all be currently enrolled at the same school on the date of the event (with the exception of younger students and homeschooled students as outlined below). There is no limit on the number of teams a school can register for the event.

Tournament Format:

There are five preliminary rounds consisting of four quarters (see Game Format below for more details.)  Each round consists of two teams playing each other. The top  ranking teams from the preliminary rounds in each division continue to play in the final rounds. This ranking is usually based first on Win-Loss record, then by total points, unless there are an odd number of teams, in which case, average points is used. The two divisions (7/8 grade and 6 grade and under) are kept as separate as possible, unless there are less than 4 teams playing in a division, then some crossover matches may be necessary. Each round takes about 30-40 minutes to complete; playoff rounds usually go somewhat quicker than the prelims.

The finals are single elimination in format; if we take four teams, then the first seed (ranked first by record, then by total points) plays the fourth seed in the quarterfinals, the second seed plays the third. The number of teams who makes the playoffs depends on how many teams register for each division.

In general, teams with at least a .500 winning percentage in their preliminary matches (3-2 with no bye, 2-2 with a bye), or teams that win a playoff match will qualify for our National Championships.

Game Format:

The History Bowl is a team history quiz competition played over four quarters in each match.

Quarter 1 – Tossup Questions.  Students must buzz in to answer.  Teammates may not confer on the answer, only the student who buzzed in can give an answer.  If the student answers correctly their team is awarded 10 points.  If they answer incorrectly then the moderator will continue reading the question (if they had not already finished) and players from the other team will have the opportunity to buzz in on the question (once a player from a team has answered incorrectly, no one else on that team may buzz in.) After the moderator is done, players have 5 seconds to ring in. After a player has rung in, players have 5 seconds to start giving their answer. If their answer is incorrect, the other team receives 5 seconds to ring in. This holds true in the second and fourth quarters as well..There are 8 questions in this round for a possible 80 points.

Quarter 2 – Tossup Questions with bonuses. Students must buzz in the same as in Quarter 1.  In addition, the team of the student who answers correctly then has the opportunity to answer a follow up bonus question.  No buzzers are used for this bonus question and the team members have up to 8 seconds to confer before the reader prompts them, at which point they must give an answer within an additional 5 seconds.  Both the Tossup Question and the Bonus are worth 10 points each.  If the winning team is unable to answer the bonus question, that bonus question is dead, the opposing team is not given the chance to answer it.  If neither team answers the tossup question correctly the bonus question is not read.  There are 8 tossups each with a bonus question in this round for a possible 160 points.

Quarter 3 – Lightning Round.  This quarter does not use the buzzers.  In prelims, the team that is trailing at the end of the 2nd quarter (or the leading team in playoffs) gets first choice of 3 possible topics for the lightning round and must make any player substitutions before the topics are announced. They then answer up to 6 questions on that topic that get progressively more difficult.  Like the bonus questions in Quarter 2, team members may confer for up to 8 seconds, will be prompted by the reader, and then must answer within an additional 5 seconds.  If the team answers incorrectly, then the opposing team gets the same opportunity to answer that question.  Once that category is completed, the leading teams picks from the remaining 2 categories and the process is repeated.  Each category has 6 questions worth 10 points each.  If a team answers all 6 in their category they also get a 20 point bonus for a total of 80 possible points for a category as well as 10 points each for any missed questions from the opposing team that are answered.

Quarter 4 – Tossup Questions with power marks. This quarter works like Quarter 1.  The difference is that the questions are longer and students can earn more points depending on when they buzz in and answer the question.  Depending on how early in the question a student answers correctly they can earn 30, 20 or 10 points.  There are 8 tossups in this quarter worth up to a total of 240 points.

The team with the most points at the end of the round wins.  Ties are immediately broken with additional tossups until one team answers correctly.  See our resources page for past questions, study guides, and the styles of questions which we use.

Schedule of Events (Subject to Change) All Times are Eastern:

10:30am – 3:30pm History Bowl Rounds 1-5
4:30pm – 8:30pm   History Bowl Playoffs [The start time will not change but the duration of playoff is subject to change depending on the number of teams playing]

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