Rules & Format Overview (Practice Resources are listed at the bottom of the page)

Varsity and Junior Varsity Divisions

National Science Bee Stage 1 – Online Regional Qualifying Exam – 50 question multiple choice exam on all aspects of science. 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 – National Championships
Students will compete in 4 preliminary rounds, each with 30 questions. There will be 2 playoff rounds in each age division each with 35 questions; between 16-32 students (this will depend on turnout; we will post the exact number in advance of Nationals will make the playoffs. The top students in the semifinals will advance to the finals.

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.
Please see the documents available for download here for the National Science Bee Varsity and JV National Championships:

National Science Bee – Question Distribution – Varsity & Junior Varsity Divisions

National Science Bee Varsity & JV National Championships – Preliminary Rounds Scoring System and Rules Summary

National Science Bee Varsity & JV National Championships – Playoffs Scoring System and Rules Summary 

Please also note the following official rules for the 2021 National Science Bee Varsity and JV National Championships:

In the semifinals, if a student reaches 40 points, they are finished and automatically advance to the finals; if two players reach 40 points before all 35 tossups are read, the round is played to completion for everyone else. Sudden victory questions are played as needed to break ties – a correct response advances a player, but an incorrect response does not eliminate a player. Ties for semifinalist positions (9th through 28th) are determined by the score in the playoff round, then preliminary rank.

In the finals, if a student reaches 50 points in the finals, they are crowned champion and the match is still read to completion for everyone else. Any ties for any of the top 8 positions are then broken by sudden victory questions (again, a correct response advances a player, but an incorrect response does not eliminate a player).

Middle and Elementary School Divisions

National Science Bee Stage 1 – Online Regional Qualifying Exam
– 50 question multiple choice exam on all aspects of science. 2 points are scored for a correct answer, 0 for an answer left blank, and 0 for an incorrect response. he 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

Regional Finals Bee Rules can be downloaded here  (we use the same rules for the National History Bee, National Science Bee and US Academic Bee).

National Science Bee – Question Distribution – Middle School and Elementary School Divisions

The above linked file shows how questions used at Regionals and Nationals are distributed among the various disciplines within science.

The Regional Finals consists of 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. 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 2 playoff rounds in each age division; approximately the top 32 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.

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.

Practice Materials

The following practice questions are in the same style and format as the Intramural Round questions and Online Regional Qualifying Exam:

2018-2019 National Science Bee – Online Regional Qualifying Exam
(Note that while not expressly indicated here, on each question on the Online Regional Qualifying Exam, students could also select not to answer the question, if they preferred [since an answer of “no answer” results in 0 points, but an incorrect answer results in -1 point]).
2018-2019 National Science Bee – Online Regional Qualifying Exam – ANSWER KEY

The packets listed below are from previous National Championships and Regional Finals.

2019-2020 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships (Varsity/JV)

2018-2019 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships

2018-2019 National Science Bee Questions – Regional Finals

2018 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships

2017 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships

2016 National Science Bee Questions – National Championships

Regional Finals Bee Scoresheet

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.