National History Bee Rules Summary – Varsity & Junior Varsity Divisions

History Bee tournaments will be held across the country in the 2021-2022 season, as well as a few online tournaments. There will be a Varsity division will be for 11th and 12th graders, and a separate Junior Varsity division for 10th graders and younger.

The History Bee tournaments consist of two parts, the preliminary rounds and the final rounds. In the preliminary rounds, students will be grouped into rooms of 3-10 students. 5-8 students per room is typical. For the online tournaments, students will also be logged into an online buzzer system. During prelims, students will play three 30-question rounds, and each round will have a mix of all eras, places, and types of history- i.e. the rounds do not have themes(see the past questions for examples).

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.

If you get out on question… you will score…. for a total of….
8 7 bonus points 15 points
9 or 10 6 bonus points 14 points
11 or 12 5 bonus points 13 points
13, 14, or 15 4 bonus points 12 points
16, 17, 18, 19, or 20 3 bonus points 11 points
21, 22, 23, 24, or 25 2 bonus points 10 points
26, 27, 28 , 29, or 30 1 bonus point 9 points
31, 32, 33, 34 or 35 0 bonus points 8 points

The top 2-10 cumulative scorers in both the Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions from the three preliminary rounds advance to finals, depending on the size of the field. At larger events, more than 10 students may advance, and then the Bee finals will be held in semifinal and final stages. 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. In all cases, the Tournament Director will clarify the exact number of students who will make the finals before the preliminaries begin.

The National Championships of The National History Bee – Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions

Individuals qualify for the National Championships of The National History Bee – Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions through finishing in the top 50% of the draw in their division during the preliminary rounds of any tournament. 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 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 in Regional tournaments for any reason 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 Nationals tab for full details, including format and times of the competition, costs, and other information.