Houghton Mifflin HarcourtHistory Channel

National History Bee High School Competition Rules Sheet

The National History Bee’s High School Competition is a competition with two distinct stages, the Regional & State History Bees, and the National Championships. Please note that you do NOT have to compete in a “Regional” Bee before competing in a “State” Bee, and that you can qualify for the National Championships at any Regional Bee, as well as at any of the State Bees. The “State” Bee designation is simply used so that in states with more than one tournament, we can have a designated State Champion.
The two stages are described in detail below.

Regional & State History Bees

Regional & State History Bees will be held throughout the USA this academic year (most are held on Saturdays, a few are held after school or on Sundays). They are held at the same site and on the same date as the Regional & State History Bowls, but at different times during the day, so that students can compete in both. Some states will not have a competition, other states will have more than one Bee. There are no geographical restrictions in participating – students from one state can play in a different state. The only restriction is that all students may only play each of our 3 question sets (i.e. A Set, B Set, and C Set) once, so check to see what set each tournament is using before you register.
The Regional & State History Bees consist of two parts, the preliminary rounds and the playoffs. Both are held on the same day and at the same place as all of the Regional & State History Bowls to make it more convenient for everyone. The preliminary rounds of the Bee are typically held after Round 3 of the Bowl (usually around 11am). The Finals are held in the afternoon after the final preliminary round of the Bowl but before the Bowl playoffs (usually around 3-4pm). Sometimes, slight variations to this way of scheduling occur.

There will be a separate Junior Varsity division for 10th graders and younger. If turnout is insufficient, they may play in with the other students, but the top two ranking 9th and 10th grade students will still face each other in a head to head final match.
In the preliminary rounds of the Regional and State Bees, students will be grouped into groups of 4-9 students. Each student will play three rounds of 30 questions each (see the practice questions for examples). Each round will have a mix of all eras, places, and types of history- i.e. the rounds do not have themes. Students are then ranked in order to the number of points they amassed over the three rounds combined. Once a student gets 8 points in a round, they are finished for that round. Students earn 1 point per correct answer, but lose a point if they are the third student to answer incorrectly before the end of the question (as this kills the question for the other students). Students who obtain 8 points during the round earn bonus points based on how early in the round they reached 8 points. All other students obtain the same number of points as to how many questions they answered correctly, factoring in any negative points as well. See the Official Rules for a complete description of competition rules.

Usually, the top 2-10 cumulative scorers in both the Varsity and Junior Varsity levels from the three preliminary rounds advance to the Regional or State Bee Final which will be held at the end of the preliminary rounds of the Regional or State History Bowl. How many students advance will be determined by the size of the field. Ties for the final spot in the finals will usually be broken by sudden death questions.

Bee Final Option 1
In one form of the Bee Final, there are usually either 1, 2, or 3 stages, depending on how many students respectively have made the Final. If we typically begin with 8-10 students, then the first break will usually occur when 4 or 5 of the 10 players have reached three points. The scores for the five remaining students will all then reset to zero, and the second break will usually occur when 2 or 3  players have reached four points. Finally, the scores will reset to zero again and the last two players will duke it out. The first to six correct will be the Regional or State Bee Champion. If we only take 2-7 students to the Final of a division, then that division (i.e. Varsity or JV) will usually contain just the second and/or the third stage (if we take 2 or 3) as described above.

Bee Final Option 2
At certain tournaments, rather than using the format described above for the finals, we may play 1 or 2 rounds of either 20, 25, or 30 questions (at the Tournament Director’s discretion). All students would then play all questions, unless they have reached an amount of questions that assures they will qualify for the second stage or emerge as champion (this convention is sometimes not followed though). This format can be used to include up to 50 students in the Bee Finals (if held over two stages). At some tournaments, two stages might be played with then a final stage being contested among the top two or three students, which can either be first to a certain number of points, or whoever is leading at the end of a certain number of questions.

In all cases, the Tournament Director will clarify the exact number of students who will make the finals before the preliminaries begin, and exactly what method will be used in the finals before the finals begin. The Bee Finals Options as described here are not necessarily the formats that will be used; these are provided for convenience sake here.

Students who win state tournaments who are not from that state are designated “State Tournament Champion” while the “State Champion” designation then goes to the next highest ranking student who was from the state where the tournament was held. In some states, the “State Champion” designation may be applied at NHBB’s discretion after the completion of all of the Regional tournaments within those states.

The National Championships of The National History Bee – High School Division

Individuals qualify for the National Championships of The National History Bee – High School Division through finishing in the top 1/2 of the draw in their division during the preliminary rounds of any Regional or State Bee, or by advancing a stage in the finals. These counts are inclusive of odd numbers of students (i.e if there are 21 students in the draw,  then 11 qualify) and students that are tied – even if ties are broken by sudden death to determine advancement to the Regional or State Bee Finals. As we are again featuring three separate question sets, students have up to three chances to qualify – there is no difference for qualifying purposes as to whether a student qualifies off of an A set, B set, or C set tournament.
Students who competed in the Varsity Division at the Regional or State Bee who are in 10th grade and younger, must however, compete in the Junior Varsity Division in the National Championships of The National History Bee (though they can still compete on Varsity teams if they choose in the National Championships of The National History Bowl).

Click on the National Championships tab for full details, including format and times of the competition, costs, and other information.