Rules & Format Overview
Note: Complete Rules for Buzzer-Based Play will be posted here in advance of the Regional Finals. An optional intramural competition may also be held in advance of the Online Regional Qualifying Exam at some schools and some homeschool groups, but this is not an officially required stage.
National Science Bee Stage 1 – Online Regional Qualifying Exam – 50 question multiple choice exam on all aspects of history. 2 points are scored for a correct answer, 0 for an answer left blank, and -1 for an incorrect response. This format thus rewards partial knowledge but not lucky random guesses. The exam must be supervised by a teacher, parent, or other responsible adult who may not provide assistance to the exam taker.
National Science Bee Stage 2 – Regional Finals
3 rounds of buzzer-based play in preliminaries, and 1 round in the Finals. Middle School Divisions (Grade 6, 7, and 8) play separated by grade on 30 question rounds. Elementary School Division (all students in Grade 5 and younger) play together on 25 question rounds. Up to 10 students compete together in a room at any given time. One point is scored for each correct response; only one student can score per question. Once a student has rung in with an incorrect response, they cannot ring in again on that question. 3 incorrect answers kill the question. If a student is the third one to answer incorrectly before the end of the question, they score -1; otherwise, students do not lose points for an incorrect response (the first or second incorrect response, and the third incorrect response if the question has been read to completion do not incur a loss of a point).
When a student reaches 6 points they are finished for the round, but they will receive up to 9 bonus points based on how quickly they finish the round with bonus points being allotted as follows:
If a student gets their 6th point on Question They receive this many bonus points. For a total of:
6 9 15
7 or 8 8 14
9 or 10 7 13
11 or 12 6 12
13-15 5 11
16-18 4 10
19-21 3 9
22-24 2 8
25-27 1 7
28-30 0 6
All students play 3 preliminary rounds. The top students in each age division make the finals. Approximately the top 50% in each age division will qualify for Nationals.
National Science Bee Stage 3 – National Championships
Same rules as at the Regional Finals, though all students will compete in 4 preliminary rounds. We anticipate there being 3 playoff rounds in each age division; approximately the top 128 students in each age division will make the playoffs. It is projected that in each playoff round, 8 students will play in a room, and the top 2 in each room will advance to the next round, though this will be confirmed in 2019.
There are no exams in the National History Bee National Championships this academic year.
All questions in the Regional Finals and National Championships of the National Science Bee will take the form of a tossup question. Tossup questions are buzzer-based questions of short paragraph length progressing from harder to easier information from the beginning to the end of the question. Topics may cover any discipline in the field of science including, but not limited to, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, earth science, astronomy, computer science, non-computational mathematics, and the history of science.
The following practice questions are in the same style and format as the Intramural Round questions:
- Sample Questions for the Intramural and Online Regional Qualifying Exams
- ANSWER KEY – Sample Questions for the Intramural and Online Regional Qualifying Exams
- Sample Questions for Intramural Auditorium-Style Bee
- ANSWER KEY – Sample Questions for Intramural Auditorium-Style Bee
The packets listed below are from previous National Championships. Students can expect the difficulty level of questions at Regional Finals to be slightly easier, but these packets can give players an idea what to expect and are suitable as practice materials.
2018 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships
- 2018 National Science Bee Finals – Round 1
- 2018 National Science Bee Finals – Round 2
- 2018 National Science Bee Finals – Round 3
- 2018 National Science Bee Finals – Semifinal Round
- 2018 National Science Bee Finals – Championship Round
2017 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships
- 2017 National Science Bee Finals – Round 1
- 2017 National Science Bee Finals – Round 2
- 2017 National Science Bee Finals – Round 3
- 2017 National Science Bee Finals – Championship Round
2016 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships
- 2016 National Science Bee Finals – Round 1
- 2016 National Science Bee Finals – Round 2
- 2016 National Science Bee Finals – Round 3
- 2016 National Science Bee Finals – Championship Round
Please also see our past questions from the US Academic Bee and Bowl for further practice.
Please note that the USABB questions are on all academic subjects and not just science (though many science questions can be found in these rounds).
How to Order Buzzers
Please click here for details on how to order a buzzer system.
Having a buzzer system is never a requirement to compete in our events, but having a buzzer system can help to simulate tournament play in practice, and History Bowl and Academic Bowl teams get discounts to tournaments they compete in when they bring buzzer systems.