2018 USGO Middle School and Elementary Division Nationals Information

The 2018 Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships of the United States Geography Olympiad will be held in the Spring of 2018. The exact date and location will be posted here shortly. These National Championships will be held in conjunction with the US National Championships of The US Academic Bee and Bowl, as well as Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships of The National History Bee and Bowl, The National Science Bee, The National Humanities Bee, and the International Geography Bee. There is no overlap in terms of the times that the events will be held, so students who are eligible to compete in all events offered over the course of the weekend may do so.


Students qualify for the 2018 USGO Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships through the National Qualifying Exams. Students can qualify for Nationals in any of the following ways:
1. If they finish in the top half of students in their age division who take the D Set version of the Exam at any US Academic Bee and Bowl Regional tournament.
2. If their NQE score (on either version) is above the official National Median Score for their age division on that version (i.e. D Set or E Set) version of the Exam. The National Median Scores will be announced by April 1.
3. If, regardless of the National Median Scores, they at least a score of 40 on any version of the National Qualifying Exam held at a National History Bee Regional Finals site (if they are in 7th or 8th grade), or if they score at least 25 or higher (if they are in 6th grade or younger), or if they reach one of these scores by taking this exam on their own with a school or homeschool proctor.
4. Students may also qualify for the 2018 USGO Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships by qualifying for the USGO Junior Varsity Division’s National Championships on the A, B, or C Set version of the National Qualifying Exam. These are offered at all National History Bee and Bowl Varsity and Junior Varsity Regional and State tournament sites. Students must finish in the top half of JV students at their site, or otherwise finish above the A, B, or C Set National Median Scores, or score 40 or higher (if in 7th or 8th grade) or 25 or higher (if in 6th grade and younger). Qualifying on the basis of scoring at least 40 or 25 only qualifies eligible students for the Middle School or Elementary National Championships, not the JV one though.

Students only need to qualify off any one of the five versions of the USGO National Qualifying Exam. A non-qualifying score on any other version of the Exam does not disqualify a student from attending Nationals. The qualification process for the USGO National Championships is also identical to the qualification process for the US National Championships of the International Geography Bee (i.e. all students who qualify for the one competition qualify for the other).

Age Divisions at Nationals
Note that beginning in 2018, as we are expecting at least 500 students to compete at Nationals, we will be holding 5 separate age divisions at Middle School and Elementary Nationals for USGO and IGB. These 5 divisions correspond to the grade a student is in and are: 8th, 7th, 6th, 5th, and 4th and younger. This will give students a chance to compete on a more even playing field than ever before. For qualification purposes, the National Median Scores will still be compiled for 7th and 8th graders together (i.e. the “Middle School Division”) as well as for 6th graders and younger together (i.e. the “Elementary Division). However, especially as we are now offering the chance to qualify for Nationals outright through a score of 40 or higher (for 7th and 8th graders) or through a score of 25 or higher (for 6th graders and younger), the qualification is still rather open, even if the National Median Scores are computed for several different grades together.

The cost of the 2018 US Geography Olympiad Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships is $80 per student. This must be paid by check to “US Geography Olympiad” or it may be combined with payments to “US Academic Bee and Bowl”. Payments must be sent to the following address and received by May 22:

USABB/USGO Nationals
PO Box 875
Tenafly, NJ 07670

Please note that students are required to stay at the host hotel unless they are coming from within a two hour drive of the site!

Format of Middle School and Elementary Division of USGO Nationals

The 2018 US Geography Olympiad Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships will consist of 3 separate parts, a multiple choice exam, a written response exam, and a geography skills exam. Sample questions for the written exam are available here and samples of the geography skills exam questions are available here. For samples for the multiple choice exams, as well as additional samples for the other two exams, please also see the exams used at the 2017 National Championships which are available for download here along with their answer keys.

From a timing standpoint, the Geography Olympiad exams will be split into 2 parts: a part with the written exam and the first half of the multiple choice exam (65 minutes total), then a 15 minute break, and then the second half will be the map exam and the second half of the multiple choice exam. Students will be ranked on all 3 exam on the rank points principle:

For the Overall USGO rank, scores will be determined by giving participating students a rank of 1 to N, with N being the number of overall competing students, on each of the three exams. Tied students will split the average of their ranks (e.g. – if there are two students tied for second place, each would receive 2.5 points). Students thus earn a number of placement points equivalent to their ranks. The students with the lowest overall number of placement points from all portions combined will thus be the highest ranking students, and that will be used to determine the overall scores. If students tie on the overall placement, the tiebreaks will be (in respective order):
1. Final placement on Multiple Choice Exam
2. Final placement on Written Exam
3. Final placement on Geography Skills Exam
4. Additional 5 question Tiebreaker Multiple Choice Exams (this process may be repeated as needed until a winner is determined).

Students who wish to compete in a buzzer-based quiz competition should register for the International Geography Bee’s US National Championships as well.

The prizes will be announced by the spring of 2018. Medals, plaques, and/or trophies will be awarded to the top finishers.