The International History Bee is a buzzer-based history quiz competition for individual students. Please see below for a comprehensive account of how the Bee works. If you have any further questions, please email our Executive Director, Mrs. Nolwenn Léon Madden
In order to compete in the History Bee, you must be 19 years or younger at the time of your Regional Bee. You must also be enrolled in a primary or secondary school at the time of your regional tournament (or have graduated within the past two months, and not yet have started university studies). For the 2019-2020 academic year, in order to compete in the Junior Varsity division of the History Bee, a student must have been born in September 2003 or more recently. If a student wishes to compete in the Middle School division, a student must have been born in September 2005 or more recently. There is no younger age limit – a brilliant and well-behaved 8 year-old is welcome to compete.
Likewise, there is no limit on types of schools – local, international, public, private, religious, and schools abroad following a home country curriculum are all welcome. Students from the 50 US states may compete if they have not competed yet this school year in the USA; if they have, they must contact email@example.com to gain approval to compete in Asia.
Schools may compete at up to two Regional Bees in Asia in a given academic year as long as the two tournaments use different questions (click on the dot on the map and scroll down then to see what question set a tournament runs on), but they do not have to compete in the country they are located in; there is no geographic limit in that sense. No Regional Bee (even those labeled as a “Championships” requires prior qualifying – only the Asian Championships requires prior qualifying, though students who don’t qualifying can play in the Consolation Bee.
At all Regional History Bees, in the Junior Varsity and Varsity divisions, there are typically three preliminary rounds of 30 questions each. In the middle school division these rounds have 25 questions. In each round, you’ll be in a room with 5-10 students. Usually, it’s 6 or 7. Depending on how many students are competing, the highest scorers from the combined preliminary rounds in each division then compete in the final rounds. The three divisions are kept entirely separate – there is no crossover, including in the final rounds. Each round takes about 20-30 minutes to complete, including the finals.
Note that the Asian Championships features four preliminary rounds of competition in the History Bee.
Students each have a buzzer and attempt to be the first student to ring in and answer correctly. Students may ring in at any point in the question – they are encouraged to interrupt the moderator to do so. After they ring in, they give their answer. If they are correct, they get a point. If incorrect, they cannot buzz again on the question. Three incorrect answers given will end the question, at which point the moderator reveals the answer. They do not normally lose a point if they are incorrect except if they are the third student to answer incorrectly before the end of the question, in which case, they do lose a point (so it is possible, conceivably to have a negative score). If the question has been read to completion, three incorrect answers will still end the question, but no penalty will be assessed.
Once a student has reached 8 points, that student is done for that round. But, students receive bonus points based on how early they reach 8 points. The following table summarizes the bonus structure:
Reaching 8 pts on or before question… Results in this many bonus pts… And thus this many total pts…
Eight Seven Fifteen
Ten Six Fourteen
Twelve Five Thirteen
Fifteen Four Twelve
Twenty Three Eleven
Twenty-Five Two Ten
Thirty One Nine
Since there are 30 or 25 questions in a round, it is thus impossible to finish the round with a score of eight points exactly.
Students are grouped into different groups for each of the three rounds. After all three rounds, the scores from all rounds are added up, and the top students advance to the finals.
Final Round Structure
The final round of the Regional History Bee can vary in structure from one tournament to the next. At some tournaments, students need to reach a certain number of questions before advancing to the next stage, or to win. At other tournaments, students hear a set number of questions, and the student with the greatest number of correct responses once all questions have been read is declared the champion. At other events, there may be multiple stages of the finals with different rules for each, or some other format. The Tournament Director will be sure to announce how the finals will work before it begins.
In the History Bowl, there are a number of different question styles. In the Bee, by contrast, all questions are “pyramidal tossup” questions, where we start with more obscure information and move to more familiar information. Questions cover the history of the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, languages, historical geography, recent history, and the history of sports and entertainment in addition to the usual social, political, and military history. In the final rounds, the questions are, on average, slightly longer and more difficult.
Resources for Training
Here is a study guide for both high school and middle school students, which contains both a list of topics that can be referenced in our tournaments and some strategies for preparation. A full list of Resources, including thousands of past questions is maintained here.
Please also see NAQT’s (National Academic Quiz Tournaments) “You gotta know” pages, as well as the History Channel’s Ultimate History Quiz. Also see www.quizbowlpackets.com (though this has a heavy American emphasis and references all subjects) and our past high school questions from the USA. Please note that the questions you’ll find here are often more difficult and American history-focused than the questions we intend on using in Asia.