The International History Bowl is a buzzer-based history quiz competition for teams of up to 6 students. Four students can play at any one time on a team (the other one or two students, if you have them, can substitute in during the break between the second and third quarters). There is no minimum number of students on a team; you can have a team of three, two, or even one student. Please see below for a comprehensive account of how the Bowl works. If you have any further questions, or would like to have one of our staff members moderate a free online sample match for your students, please contact email@example.com.
In order to compete in the History Bowl, you must be 19 years or younger at the time of your Regional Bowl. 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 2023-2024 academic year, in order to compete in the Varsity division of the History Bowl, students must have been born in or before August 2007 but not be over the age of 19. To qualify for the Junior Varsity Division, students must be born between September 2007 and August 2009. If a team wishes to compete in the Middle School Division, students must have been born in September 2009 or more recently. There is no younger age limit – a brilliant and mature 8 year-old is welcome to compete. Also, younger students can play on a Varsity or Junior Varsity team, but ALL players on a younger team must fulfill that division’s age requirements.
Likewise, there is no limit on types of schools – local, international, public, private, religious, schools abroad following a home country curriculum, and homeschoolers are all welcome.
Schools may compete at up to three Regional History Bowls in Europe for the 2023-2024 school year (as long as they use different question sets), but they do not have to compete in the country their school is in; there is no geographic limit in that sense. Either of the two competitions can be competed at online now as well.
At all History Bowls held on weekends, there are five preliminary rounds with four quarters each. (If any tournaments are held after school on weekdays, these would have 3 preliminary rounds). In each round, two teams play each other. Depending on how many teams are in the competition, either the top 2-8 highest ranking teams from the preliminary rounds in each division, (based first on Win-Loss record, then by total points) then compete in the final rounds. The three divisions are kept as separate as possible, but unless there are at least 4 Junior Varsity and middle school teams, then some crossover matches (which count like any other game in the rankings) may be necessary. Each round takes about 30-40 minutes to complete; playoff rounds usually go somewhat quicker than the prelims.
The finals are single elimination in format; if we take four teams, then the first seed (ranked first by record, then by total points) plays the fourth seed in the quarterfinals, the second seed plays the third. The number of teams who makes the playoffs depends on how many teams register for each tournament.
Teams who finish in the top half in their division (or who win a playoff match, or who finish with a .500 winning percentage or better in their preliminary round matches) also gain eligibility to attend the annual International History Bowl European Championships at the end of the school year. If we have have 5 teams in a division, then the top 3 would qualify (i.e. we round up).
The History Bowl is a team history quiz competition played over four quarters in each match. Download the sample high school or middle school History Bowl packet to see how a game progresses! Note that middle school games have slightly fewer questions in the 1st and 3rd quarters. Students each have a buzzer and on tossup questions (i.e. questions that are short paragraphs in length moving from harder to easier clues as they are read aloud), 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, which locks out any other student from answering, they give their answer. If they are correct, they get the points. If incorrect, neither they nor their team members can buzz again on the question. There are no negative points for any incorrect answers at any point in the Bowl. On bonus questions and 60 second round questions, students consult with their teammates to arrive at an answer – buzzers are not used for these questions.
The team with the most points at the end of the game wins; tiebreak questions are always played if the times are tied after regulation.
Questions will reference the history of the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, language, historical geography, recent history, and even a bit of the history of sports and entertainment. Of course, many questions will also reference political, diplomatic, social, and military history too. Questions can reference events in the past from all over the world, and from all eras in the past – from ancient Egypt until the present day, so be sure to review some basic information of eras and locations whose histories you might not have covered in your history classes.
Resources for Training
The IHBB Europe Study Guide for both high school and middle school students is available here for download. This contains both a list of topics that can be referenced in our tournaments and some strategies for preparation. Please note that the study guide is meant to be a starting point for study and not meant to be all-encompassing – topics will be referenced in our tournaments that are not explicitly mentioned in the study guide.
Past questions used at our tournaments in Europe are quite possibly your best resource for practicing. We use new questions each year, but the people, places, and events in history that are referenced in questions from one year to the next are usually quite similar. Please also see NAQT’s (National Academic Quiz Tournaments) “You gotta know” pages. Also, see www.quizbowlpackets.com (though this has a heavy US American emphasis and references all subjects) and our Resources Page from our main USA website. Please note that the questions you’ll find here have more American history content than the questions we use in Europe.