National Academic Championship
1013 Shore Acres Loop
Columbia, MO 65201


Playoffs are all Virtual:
June 10, JV & Elementary & Middle School/Junior High
June 11 Varsity

Each team may choose one of these six preliminary-round phases:

  • May 20, Virtual
  • May 21, Virtual
  • May 27-29, New Orleans
  • June 2, Virtual
  • June 3-4, Chicago
  • June 5, Virtual

We offer three competitive levels at each phase: High School Varsity … High School JV … Middle School/Junior High …
Elementary School level will be offered only on May 21 (virtual), June 5 (virtual), and June 3-4 (Chicago)
Each virtual option will take place on one day, for everyone’s convenience, and will have a 28-team cap.

The venue (if you choose a virtual option) will be Google Meet which is free and easy-to-use.  During the prelims, your team will be connecting for two 90-minute blocs, 3 games per bloc on any of the preliminary dates.  Clarification: Both blocs must be on the same day.  Team members may join from school if schools are back in session or join from their own homes if that’s more convenient (the latter option actually makes for a more personalized experience, as we can easily address players by their names).

Six Guaranteed Matches

Each team will compete in at least six official tournament matches. Advancement to the playoff weekend (Single Elimination round) will be determined by performance in the six preliminary games. All 6-0, 5-1, and 4-2 teams will make the playoffs.

Bringing Multiple Teams.

Some schools choose to field two or more teams. If you’re considering this, be aware that players may not shift between teams. In addition, your teams may not compete during the same time bloc so they cannot face each other unless it happens in playoffs.

Consider Also Bringing Your Farm Team

Some years ago we predicted that the contending high school teams of the future will be those that have developed solid farm systems on the lower grade levels. The best example is Daviess County (KY), which won the JV title in 2015 and returned with the same players in 2016 and won the Varsity title.  Middle Schools are encouraged to consider bringing a team from the elementary school that feeds into your school – or bring a 6th grade team from your school to compete in the Elementary division.

Junior Varsity Tournament

At each venue we plan to run discrete JV tournaments. JV teams will be limited by the “Rule of 42.” That is, the total grade numbers of the four players at any given time shall not exceed 42. For example, 10 + 10 + 11 + 12 = 43, and that’s too much! 9 + 10 + 11 + 12 = 42, and that’s fine. Etc. etc. JV teams will be fielding the same questions as Varsity teams. Graduating seniors are allowed to participate on a JV team only if the school is also bringing a Varsity team as well as JV.

Small School Champion

We crown a high school champion from among the “small schools” that come to Nationals (defined as any school with 500 or fewer students in grades 10-12 and a nonselective admissions policy), selecting the highest-ranking such team.


Your team contingent should include three or four starters and one or more coaches. Alternate(s) are allowed but must remain on mute until they are in play.

How to Qualify

Each team must win an academic competition (local or regional) of at least 8 teams or finish in the top 15% of any varsity tournament, the top 20% of any middle grade tournament, the top 25% of any JV tournament, the top 30% of any elementary school tournament. A high 3-2-1 or Knowledge Master score also qualifies. Any school making the playoffs at last year’s National Academic Championship automatically qualifies.

Wild card entry may be offered to teams that wish to apply to compete at the National Academic Championship. Teams from areas without easy-to-reach tournaments, and teams who seem always to finish just under the qualification guidelines in areas with a number of qualifying teams are advised to apply for wild-card entry. To apply for wild card entry into the field at the National Academic Championship, email us at with a one or two-paragraph summary of your tournament finishes during the school year.

Academic Emphasis

The competition focuses on academic information – “significa” rather than “trivia” – and the questions are supplied by Questions Unlimited. Our emphasis is light on popular culture and heavy on the academic. We hold ourselves to the highest standards of question quality and academic relevance.  Contests follow the superb four-quarter format created by Questions Unlimited and adapted for buzzerless contests. 

Commitment to Excellence

We call the National Academic Championship “the finest in academic competition” because we boast the best questions and a highly professional officiating staff.


The moderators of the National Academic Championship are unsurpassed in their ability to read the questions with intelligence, congeniality, and enthusiasm; and to judge the answers with accuracy and fairness.