100_5380Click here for information on the 2019 Middle School & Elementary School Divisions of the USGO National Championships.


2019 USGO Varsity & Junior Varsity Nationals Information:

The 2019 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships of the United States Geography Olympiad will be held in Arlington, VA on Friday afternoon and evening, April 26. The venue will be the same as the past years, namely, the Crystal Gateway Marriott and these National Championships will be held in conjunction with the Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships of The National History Bee and Bowl, as well as the United States History Bee. There is no overlap in terms of the times that the events of the National Championships of the National History Bee and Bowl, the National Championships of the US History Bee, and the National Championships of the United States Geography Olympiad are held.


To qualify for the Varsity or Junior Varsity National Championships of the USGO, students must have finished EITHER in the top half of students on the National Qualifying Exam in their division at the location they took it, or in the top half (median), of scores across the country on their version of the Exam within their age division. Students have up to three different tries to qualify. One separate Exam will be used at all tournaments labeled “A Set”, a second will be used at “B Set”, and a third will be used at all tournaments labeled “C Set”. To see which Set will be used at each tournament, click on the dots on the map on the homepage – the Set used is listed on each tournament page.

Students only need to qualify off any one of the three versions of the USGO National Qualifying Exam. A non-qualifying score on any other version of the Exam does not disqualify a student from attending Nationals. The qualification process for the USGO National Championships is also identical to the qualification process for the US National Championships of the International Geography Bee (i.e. all students who qualify for the one competition qualify for the other).

Please register using the registration page for the National History Bee and Bowl’s National Championships. There is a separate location on this form for USGO registration. Registration will run through 11:59pm EDT on April 13. Please ensure that registration fees for USGO are paid for separately from National History Bee and Bowl/US History Bee/Sports and Entertainment Bee fees. USGO fees should be paid by check payable to “US Geography Olympiad.”

The cost of the 2019 US Geography Olympiad Varsity and Junior Varsity Division National Championships is $85 per student. This must be paid by check to “US Geography Olympiad”. Payments must be sent to the following address and received by April 20:

USABB/USGO Nationals
PO Box 875
Tenafly, NJ 07670

The official hotel for the 2019 Varsity and Junior Varsity US Geography Olympiad National Championships is the Crystal Gateway Marriott http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasgw-crystal-gateway-marriott/ in Crystal City, Arlington, VA. We have secured a rate of $145 per night plus tax for quad occupancy. This rate is valid from Thursday April 25 through (i.e. including) Saturday night April 27. We will try and work with those who wish to extend their stay to also have this rate available on the extra nights, but cannot guarantee this, though the hotel has often extended this rate to most guests who book early enough. The hotel is connected by an underground walkway to a Metro station (i.e. the subway), which is about 3 minutes away. From the hotel to the center of DC it is only 3-4 stops. Between the hotel and the subway stop is an underground shopping mall with numerous food options for all price ranges. Internet access is free in the lobby and the competition rooms; in the bedrooms it is extra, but between smart phones and complimentary internet in the lobby, this shouldn’t be a major concern.
After 5pm on Friday, free parking can be found in the Crystal City complex (though NOT at the hotel itself!) The hotel is also located only about half a mile from Reagan National Airport, and there is a free airport shuttle as well. We recommend you fly into Reagan National if you plan on flying. Guests who fly will not need to rent cars to get around.

To make reservations at the host hotel (i.e. the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA), please click on this link to make your reservation online. Do not worry about the reservations website saying just “National History Bee and Bowl” – if you are just coming for geography events, you can still book through the block of rooms we have at this link.
Please do NOT call any number to make reservations, as you will then not be counted as part of our group, and receive the group rate. For general questions regarding the hotel, you can call the Crystal Gateway Marriott directly at 703-920-3230. Please note that the hotel has sold out our room block every year! Please be sure to book early to reserve your rooms! 

Format and Schedule of Varsity and Junior Varsity Nationals

At the 2019 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships of the USGO, all participating students will take part in a three-part competition divided into two one-hour blocks of time. The three parts are all exams this year.

Official Rules re late arrivals / leaving the exam room
Students are not permitted to leave the room for any reason, including bathroom breaks or medical emergencies, and then return and continue working on that particular part of the competition (i.e. Part 1 or Part 2). We are asking that all students remain in the room during the hour and do not leave or get up from their seats until the hour is done. There is a 15 minute bathroom break between the two parts of the competition. Students who arrive late into each part are permitted into the Exam room as long as we can guarantee that no student has left early in any room in any division.

1. 12:40-1:40pmA Written Exam, similar (though shorter) to the one used at the International Geography Olympiad and the first half (40 questions) of the Multiple Choice Exam.

In this block of time, students will need to complete a Written Exam which will consist of short-answer responses. The best practice resource is last year’s written exam, which is found with its answer key here. This year’s Written Exam will be slightly shorter than last year’s, but during this hour, students will also complete the first half of the Multiple Choice Exam (40 of the 80 questions). Students can spend as much time on the Written Exam and/or the Multiple Choice Exam as they wish, but after this hour is over, they cannot adjust answers on either. The Written Exam will have different sections, either identical to or very similar to the ones listed here (which were used in 2017 and 2018):

-Geography and current events
-Historical geography
-Cultural geography
-Economic geography
-Urban geography
-Climate geography

See the International Geography Olympiad website links for additional examples of past questions in this style from the Written Response Exams.

This year’s Multiple Choice Exam will consist of 80 questions, most of which will be similar to past years’ National Championship multiple choice questions, though a certain portion (roughly 30%-40%) will focus more on conceptual questions of the sort commonly found on the Multi Media Exams used at the International Geography Olympiad. See the International Geography Olympiad website links for examples of past questions of this style. As with the National Qualifying Exams, students receive 2 points per correct answer on the MCE, 0 for a blank response, and -1 for an incorrect response.

2. 1:55-2:55pm – A Geography Skills Exam and Part 2 (the second 40 questions) of the Multiple Choice Exam

This year the USGO will have a separate Geography Skills exam.  This test is meant to assess the types of practical map skills and cartographic reasoning reflected on both the iGeo written and field work examinations.  The exam will consist of 7 to 9 sets of questions. In order to prepare for this exam, map-based questions from previous iGeo WRT exams, as well as similar questions from College Board AP Human Geography free response sections, and UK GCSE exams will be useful.  Here are some sample questions of the sort which will be asked on the exam.

As was the case during the first hour, students can spend as much time on the Geography Skills Exam or the 40 Multiple Choice Exam questions in this section as they wish, but they cannot adjust answers to Part 1 (Written Exam or the first 40 Multiple Choice Exam questions).


As on the National Qualifying Exam, students at Nationals will be grouped into Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions. The cutoff will not be done based on grade, but rather, students born on or after July 1, 2003 are required to compete in the Junior Varsity division. They will win prizes for their performance, and we will crown a JV National Champion, but are ineligible to qualify for Team USA, which will represent the United States at the 2019 International Geography Olympiad.

For Varsity students, the top four overall students this year will constitute Team USA at the 2018 International Geography Olympiad.
For the Overall USGO rank, scores will be determined by giving participating students a rank of 1 to N, with N being the number of overall competing students, on each of the three exams. Tied students will split the average of their ranks (e.g. – if there are two students tied for second place, each would receive 2.5 points). Students thus earn a number of placement points equivalent to their ranks. The students with the lowest overall number of placement points from all portions combined will thus be the highest ranking students, and that will be used to determine the overall scores. If students tie on the overall placement, the tiebreaks will be (in respective order):
1. Final placement on Multiple Choice Exam
2. Final placement on Written Exam
3. Final placement in Map Exercise Exam
4. Additional 5 question Tiebreaker Multiple Choice Exams (this process may be repeated as needed until a winner is determined).

The exams will be scored on Friday and Saturday. Results will be announced by 2pm Sunday, possibly at 7pm on Saturday if all exams have been graded by then. Results will be posted to the website by the week following USGO Nationals.


In addition to trophies and plaques for the top students, at the 2019 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships of the US Geography Olympiad, the top students in each age division receive the following:

For Varsity students: $1200 in credit to be used to defray costs of expenses of participation on Team USA at the 2019 Intl. Geography Olympiad in Hong Kong. Note: if the total costs of the 2019 Intl. Geography Olympiad and Team Training Camp in Montreal do not total $4800, the balance will go to students to help cover their flights. If all flights have been covered, though, students do not receive the balance in cash.

For Junior Varsity students: For the Champion, $600, Second Place, $400, Third Place, $200