The International Geography Bee is a geography quiz competition, focusing on pure geographic knowledge. Students in the USA interested in competing in a separate competition with a focus more on applied geographic knowledge can participate in the US Geography Championships as well.
The USA Division of the International Geography Bee was founded in 2016 to give primary and secondary students in the USA a chance to compete at the regional, national, and global levels in a new academic competition testing comprehensive knowledge of world geography. The IGB’s USA Division complements other divisions around the world, so that students can be a part of a community of young scholars who are all striving to improve their knowledge of the world and its peoples and cultures. The International Geography Bee is meant to be fair (through the use of well-constructed questions that all students play on simultaneously), exciting (through buzzer-based play at the national and global levels), accessible (by allowing students to qualify for the National Championships at their own school / homeschool place of study if needed and affordable entry fees), and relevant (through questions that show how and why geography matters in at the local, national, and global levels).
Our hope is that through the creation of a new worldwide geography competition, students in the USA will further their knowledge of geography in an enjoyable way, and make friends with like-minded students from around their national and their world.
The International Geography Bee’s USA Division was founded and is overseen by David Madden (Burlington, VT), who also writes the National Qualifying Exams; Enrico Contolini (Lakewood, CO) who assists with statistics and social media, while a team of experienced writers provides the questions for the National Championships. We have no institutional affiliation, and we have no connection with the National Geographic Society or the National Geographic Bee.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for all questions.
The International Geography Bee’s Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions comprise two stages during the 2022-2023 academic year, the National Qualifying Exam and the National Championships. The JV Division is also open to students in 8th grade and younger.
- National Qualifying Exam – The National Qualifying Exam is a 50 question multiple choice exam with questions on all aspects of science. Students receive 2 points for a correct answer, 0 points for an answer left blank, and -1 point for an incorrect response. This system rewards partial knowledge but not random lucky guesses. There are three versions of the National Qualifying Exam: A Set, B Set, and C Set. These can be taken either at a Regional competition site or online with a teacher / homeschool instructor / community volunteer as a proctor. Students who finish in the top half of students taking the NQE at their Exam Site or students who finish in the top 50% of all students across the USA on any given version of the NQE once the National Median Scores are calculated then qualify for the National Championships. The National Median Scores are calculated for all scores that have been reported as of January 1 for C Set, February 1 for B Set, and March 1 for the A Set versions of the National Qualifying Exam. The cost is $10 for in person events, and $15 for online exams. Click here to register to take the National Qualifying Exam, either online or at a History Bee and Bowl tournament.
- National Championships – The 2023 Varsity & JV National Championships of the International Geography Bee will take place in conjunction with the IAC Varsity/JV National Championships in April 2023. The format of the competition will be entirely buzzer-based with 3 rounds of preliminaries and 2 rounds of playoffs. The cost is $95 for each student.
IGB offers the following age divisions for the 2022-2023 academic year:
-Varsity (solely for students born on or before June 30, 2007)
-Junior Varsity (open to any student born on or after July 1, 2007, including middle & elementary schoolers)
Rules and format
International Geography Bee Stage 1 – National Qualifying Exam – 50 question multiple choice exam on all aspects of geography. 2 points are scored for a correct answer, 0 for an answer left blank, and -1 for an incorrect response. This format thus rewards partial knowledge but not lucky random guesses. The exam can be taken in person at Regional tournaments, or online.
International Geography Bee Stage 2 – National Championships
Students will compete in 3 preliminary rounds, each with 35 questions. The exact number of students who will make the semifinals and the finals will be a function of how many students register for the IGB National Championships.
All questions in the National Championships of the International Geography Bee will take the form of a tossup question. Tossup questions are buzzer-based questions of short paragraph length progressing from harder to easier information from the beginning to the end of the question. Topics may cover any discipline in the field of geography. Please see the documents available for download here for the International Geography Bee Varsity and JV National Championships:
International Geography Bee Varsity & JV National Championships-Preliminary Rounds Scoring System and Rules Summary
International Geography Bee Varsity & JV National Championships – Playoffs Scoring System and Rules Summary
Students who finish in the top half at the IGB US National Championships within their age division, or who score 75 or higher on any version of the National Qualifying Exam in the 2022-2023 or the 2023-2024 academic years qualify for the International Geography Championships in Summer, 2024. Normally, qualification is valid for two years; thus students who qualify at US Nationals in either 2023 or 2024 may attend the World Championships.