Questions Unlimited
The Finest in Academic Competition ... since 1978.
7411 Hamilton Run Dr., Chattanooga TN 37421 . 1-800-868-1518

(Revised March 2017)


  1. Each contest features two teams of four players each from one high school (no all-star teams).
  2. Substitutions are permitted between quarters; permission need not be sought from the officials.
  3. Each team must designate a captain before each round. When a captain is required to give an answer, he may not designate another player.
  4. Each question has a pre-stated value. Points are scored by correct answers only; incorrect answers do not lose points.
  5. At their discretion, officials may give a player a chance to “be more specific” if his answer is deemed neither correct nor incorrect. For example, surnames are acceptable provided there are no others having the same surname with whom he might be confused (e.g. the Roosevelts). If more information is provided than is required for a correct answer and some portion is incorrect, the whole answer will be deemed incorrect.
  6. At their discretion, officials may discard a question if an answer is interjected from the audience.
  7. All math answers must be expressed in simplest terms, except denominators need not be rationalized.
  8. Units must be given in math answers where applicable, unless it is stated in question what units are sought; for example, “. . . Give me the volume, in cubic centimeters, of a sphere . . .”
  9. On matching questions, all elements to be matched must be included in the response, not merely, “In order, they are...”
  10. SCRIPPS RANCH RULE. Spelling questions are judged using National Spelling Bee rules, although a player need not pronounce the word. A player, having started to spell, may stop and start over, retracing the spelling from the beginning; however, there can be no change of letters.
  11. MADISON RULE. The only electronic signaling devices allowed the contestants during the game are the ones we provide. Contestants may not bring cell phones or any other electronic signaling devices to the panel during the game. All cell phones in the audience shall be turned off before the game; otherwise unsportsmanlike conduct may be declared, and points deducted at the judges' discretion.
  12. If contest equipment malfunctions, it is the team's responsibility to notify officials at once. No adjustments or changes in the match are permitted due to malfunctioning equipment.
  13. Appeals regarding answers to questions may only be lodged immediately following the quarter in which the question was read. An appeal shall consist of the player and/or coach explaining the issue to the officials. The officials may then consult with the opposing coach as they see fit. It is considered unsportsmanlike conduct to interrupt the flow of a match by lodging a protest at the wrong time. There are only a few times when it is correct to interrupt the flow of a match - e.g. equipment malfunction, illness, pencil and paper issues, failure of an official to reset the buzzer system - but protests and scoring issues need to be addressed at the end of the period. A team is permitted a maximum of two question appeals per game.
  14. Paper and pen or pencil are allowed, but not provided, for contestant use during the game.
  15. Teams are required to bring their own contestant and team name plates. Silly names are not allowed on a contestant name plate. A contestant is expected to use a real name: surname is OK, but better is first name or common nickname.
  16. Public speaking is part of the competition. Contestants must speak up. It is not the officials’ responsibility if points are not awarded because the contestant could not be heard.
  17. Other than the 60 Seconds round, there is no objective scheme for the timing of questions and answers; rather, it is the officials’ feel for how much time should be given, based on the difficulty of the question itself.

First Quarter ("Warmup Round").

  1. All questions are tossups worth 5 or 10 points apiece.
  2. To help ensure that there is no confusion on the part of an official as to who answered, a player wishing to answer a question must signal using the electronic response system and is expected to wait to be recognized by an official before giving an answer. If an answer is given (by a player whose light is on) before he is recognized, it is considered rude, but there is no penalty for not waiting. The player will be asked to wait, but the officials will not disallow the answer.
  3. A player may interrupt a question while it is being asked.
  4. A player is expected to respond on a timely basis once recognized. If an answer is not given on a timely basis, the officials will indicate “no answer”. This rule is strictly enforced on math questions, on which a player should do all computations before signaling.
  5. A maximum of one player from each team is allowed to signal. If a player from the first team gives an incorrect answer or no answer, a player from the second team has an opportunity to signal.
  6. Questions that are completed for both teams need not be repeated. If the question was not completed because one team interrupted, the question will be completed for the opposing team.
  7. Consultation is prohibited. Consultation shall be defined as one contestant passing notes or carrying on a discussion with a fellow-contestant, and nothing more.

Second Quarter ("Bonus Round")

  1. There are two kinds of questions: tossup and bonus.
  2. Tossup questions work just like all First and Fourth Quarter questions; all those rules apply.
  3. If a player correctly answers a tossup question, his team gets first chance at a three-question category-oriented bonus series, worth a possible 30 points. The team starts off with a 5-pointer, then a 10, and finally a 15. If the team misses at any level, the bonus for that team stops there, and the opposing team is offered only the question missed at that level, and the bonus for the second team stops there (they may not continue to other levels).
  4. Consultation among team members is forbidden during tossups but permitted and encouraged during bonuses. Team members should remain seated.
  5. Bonuses must be answered by the captain, who need not signal or be recognized.
  6. In the event that a team's tossup answer is initially ruled incorrect but is later accepted on appeal, the team will play an additional bonus category.

Third Quarter ("Sixty Seconds Round")

  1. Four categories (which vary from game to game) are announced. Each category contains ten questions worth 10 points apiece, and a team is awarded an extra 20 points if it answers all ten correctly.
  2. The team that is trailing (or, in case of a tie, the last team to score) selects a category first.
  3. Once the categories are announced, coaches are not allowed to tell their team what to select.
  4. Consultation among team members is permitted and encouraged during a team's turn to answer. Team members should remain seated.
  5. Answers must be given by the captain, who need not signal or be recognized. The captain may interrupt the question, but the moderator reserves the right to complete any question.
  6. The team has at most sixty seconds to complete a category, so it is playing against the clock. The moderator will move on to the next question in the category only when the captain gives a correct answer, gives an incorrect answer, or refuses a question by saying “pass”.
  7. Once a team misses or passes a question, they cannot later return to it.
  8. After time has expired for the first team, the second team may try to answer only the questions that were missed or passed or, in some cases, the part of the last question that was read but went unanswered.”
  9. After the second team has finished rebounding, the second team will select from the remaining three categories and play the round. Then the first team will be given opportunity to rebound.
  10. In the event of an error (e.g. mispronunciation by the moderator) which appears to “cost the team time,” adjustments will not be permitted, unless, in the opinion of the officials, the error was so significant as to create a situation of extreme prejudice to the team. In such cases the officials, solely at their discretion, may elect to compensate the team. If the problem occurred during the first team's category, the “time lost” may be deleted from the second team's category in order to ensure a level playing field. If the problem occurred during the second team's category, the “time lost” may be added to the end, or the team may be permitted to attempt an additional question from one of the unused categories at the rate of one question per each six seconds “lost”.

Fourth Quarter ("Stump the Experts Round")

  1. Rules are identical to the First Quarter, except tossups are valued at 15 or 20 points.
  2. If, at the end of the round, both teams have the same number of points, the tie is broken in a sudden-death playoff. The first team to answer a question correctly in overtime is declared the winner. Overtime questions are valued at 5 points.

Abridged versus Unabridged Format

  1. The Questions Unlimited Rules as described above can be used into two formats: unabridged (designed for games to be scheduled 40 minutes apart) and abridged (30 minutes apart).
  2. In the unabridged format, the 1st Quarter has 14 tossups, the 2nd Quarter has 9 tossups feeding into 5 bonus categories, the 3rd Quarter has 4 sixty-second categories, and the 4th Quarter has 18 tossups.
  3. In the abridged format, the 1st Quarter has 10 tossups, the 2nd Quarter has 8 tossups feeding into 4 bonus categories, the 3rd Quarter has 4 sixty-second categories, and the 4th Quarter has 12 tossups.
  4. In the abridged format, all first- and second-quarter tossups are worth 10 points; fourth-quarter tossups are worth 20 points.

Tournament Format

  1. Each team competing in the tournament shall be guaranteed six qualifying round matches. For the convenience of the participants, qualifying round pairings shall be made at random according to the teams' estimated time of arrival at the competition venue, as noted on the registration forms.
  2. After the qualifying rounds, all teams with records of 6-0, 5-1, and 4-2 will advance and be paired into a single-elimination playoffs by virtue of record and points. Ties for record shall be broken using the total points scored in the qualifying rounds. Ties for total points shall be broken using a team's highest scoring single game.
    1. Exception: In small tournament fields (10 teams or fewer), any team finishing the preliminary rounds with at least a two-game lead over the second-ranked team shall be declared the champion without necessitating a playoff. For example, if the best team is 6-0 and the second-best 4-2, the 6-0 team wins the title.
  3. Preliminary matches will be in the abridged format; playoff matches will be in the unabridged format.
  4. Teams shall arrive at the location of the match at least ten minutes before the match begins. If a team arrives ten minutes past game time or does not show up at all, it automatically forfeits. A team that wins by forfeiture in a preliminary round shall be awarded an average of the number of points accumulated in their other preliminary matches.
  5. Preliminary round schedules will be posted online a week before the competition begins. When playoff teams are determined, the chart will be filled in and displayed at the usual public place. All playoff games will be played on the last competition day.
  6. The top teams from the first three phases of the Varsity tournament are expected, at the expense of the N.A.A., to travel to the fourth phase to compete against the other three site winners. The N.A.A. will purchase 5 air tickets (max. $500 apiece). If for whatever reason the team is not able to travel to participate in the final phase, that team’s record in the preliminaries and playoffs shall not be sullied, but the second-ranked team will be asked to go in their stead.


  1. A team consists of players from one high school whom the school has declared eligible.
  2. Although a team is not required to be coed (male and female), the National Academic Association encourages schools to field mixed teams if at all possible.
  3. 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 + 11 = 41, and that's within the limit of 42. Etc. etc. Graduating seniors are allowed to participate on a JV team only if the school is also bringing a Varsity team as well as a JV.
  4. The team dress code for the competition shall comply with the standards set by the school for class attendance. However, students are encouraged to make an overt effort to dress in a manner conforming to the high standards of the competition.
  5. Team behavior should conform to the high standards of the competition. Applause and cheering for correct answers is appropriate, except when a team is “on the clock”, i.e. during a sixty-second category.
  6. Egregious infractions of hotel, or N.A.A. regulations (including violation of curfew) may result in disciplinary action, up to and including a forfeiture of matches or ejection from the tournament without refund, at the tournament director's discretion.
  7. Teams must be accompanied by at least one adult coach/advisor. Coaches are responsible for the behavior of their team members.
  8. Participants are not permitted to record the audio or video of any match without the prior consent of the Executive Director, who reserves the right to assess a $10 per match fee for such privilege. Violation of this rule may result in match forfeiture.


  1. In the event that a team is dissatisfied with an official decision, a “Supreme Court” panel of judges can be assembled to review the decision. A written appeal must be submitted to the Moderator of the disputed match within four hours of the match's completion. This Judge shall take the appeal, without disclosing which teams are involved, to the Executive Director. A judge with a conflict of interest in a contest may sit on this panel, but he shall disqualify himself from voting.
  2. Teams are allowed one “Appeal to the Supreme Court” throughout the whole of the preliminary rounds (i.e. not one per match) and one throughout the course of the elimination rounds. If the opposing coach wishes to counter-appeal, it does not “use up” their appeal.

Method to determine National Champion in JNAC, JVNAC and Elementary tournaments:

  1. The three champions from each location are considered for the title of National Champion.
  2. The three teams will first be separated by number of losses. If one team has fewer losses than the other two, they will be automatically named National Champion.
  3. In any case where more than one team has the same number of losses and no team has been named National Champion according to number 2 above, if one team has more wins than the other two, they will be automatically named National Champion.
  4. If no team has been named National Champion according to number 2 & 3 above, the team with the highest points-per-game average will be automatically named National Champion.