Since 2012, International Academic Competitions has overseen the United States Geography Olympiad, a nationwide competition focusing on all aspects of geography. Since the 2019-2020 competition season, this competition has temporarily been renamed the US Geography Championships because of the short-sightedness of the US Olympic Committee.
Like the National History Bee, the USGC features Varsity, Junior Varsity, Middle School, and Elementary School divisions. For the 2021-2022 academic year, Varsity students are defined as students born before July 1, 2006. All other primary and secondary school students can compete in the Junior Varsity division. The Middle School division is open solely to 6th through 8th graders, while the Elementary School division is open to 5th graders and younger. See www.geographychampionships.com for full details.
The top four Varsity students at the National Championships are eligible to attend the International Geography Olympiad (aka iGeo) as Team USA. USGC Staff oversees the trip to iGeo and in 2019, the USA finished 2nd out of over 43 teams overall at iGeo. All four students from Team USA won medals, and our team included the overall world champion, Albert Zhang of Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Florida!
At the regional level for Varsity and Junior Varsity students, the USGC features National Qualifying Exams which can either be taken online or proctored by a teacher or homeschool instructor, but are more commonly taken at National History Bee and Bowl high school-level state and regional tournaments. The NQE is offered during the lunch break at all-day events, or during the check-in period at afterschool events. Students can qualify for the USGC National Championships by either finishing in the top half of students in their division at the site where they take the NQE, or by finishing above the National Median Score for their version of the NQE. There are 3 separate versions of the NQE – these correspond to the different sets offered at the NHBB high school-level tournament sites where the NQE is given. Students can take all 3 exams, but only need to qualify once. The 2022 Varsity and Junior Varsity USGC Nationals will be held in Spring 2022 in Arlington, VA in conjunction with the NHBB Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships.
For the Middle School and Elementary Divisions, the National Qualifying Exam is also offered as a way to qualify for the Junior Varsity National Championships only, as middle and elementary school students must qualify on the ORQE and at Regional Finals to go to the Elementary and Middle School National Championships. The 2022 Elementary and Middle School USGC Nationals will also be held in Spring 2022 in conjunction with the Middle School and Elementary School National History Bee and Bowl, National Science Bee, and US Academic Bee and Bowl National Championships.
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