2020 USGC Middle and Elementary School Division Nationals Information

The 2020 Middle School and Elementary School National Championships of the United States Geography Championships will be held from 3:10pm-5:30pm on the afternoon of Friday, June 12, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL (next to Chicago). This date, time, and location are confirmed. Remember, if you are qualified for USGC Nationals, you are by definition qualified for the International Geography Bee Nationals as well!


OFFICIAL HOTEL POLICY: Staying at an official hotel is required for all students and families coming from outside a 3 hour driving radius per Google Maps.

Official Hotels

1. Hyatt Regency O’Hare – rooms are $149 (king) or $159 (double / double) –
Please click here to reserve rooms!

Rooms must be booked through the above link (and not by calling the hotel, booking on a third party website or any other method as we cannot track other booking methods to ensure compliance with the requirement to stay at the hotel).
Note that while our block of rooms is significantly larger than our block last year at Nationals (i.e. in June 2019), we still expect the room block at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare to sell out at least several months in advance. We would then designate additional official hotels, but we strongly recommend you to book as early as possible and stay at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, as it will certainly be the most convenient option.

Additional official hotels may be posted here in early 2020 if needed.

Registration for the 2020 USGC Middle & Elementary School National Championships and all other events being contested at the 2020 International Academic Competitions Middle & Elementary School National Championships will open by January 2020. When activated, a registration link will be posted here.

Nationals Schedule
A current schedule of events * and their start times at International Academic Competitions’ 2020 Middle & Elementary School National Championships, including the National History Bee and Bowl, is now available for download here.
* = This version is up to date as of January 15, 2020. IAC reserves the right to make slight adjustments to the schedule in the lead up to Nationals if it is in the best interests of the tournament. However, if changes are made, they will be minor, and will not affect travel plans that people will have already made.


Students can qualify for the 2020 US Geography Championships Middle School and Elementary School National Championships through the National Qualifying Exams.
Please note! Any student who qualifies for the exam-based US Geography Championships National Championships also qualifies for the buzzer-based International Geography Bee US National Championships – please click here for more information on IGB Nationals.

Students can qualify for USGC and IGB Nationals in any of the following ways:

On any D, E, F, G, or H Set Version of the National Qualifying Exam, students qualify for Nationals if they obtain any of these scores:

8th Grade: 50
7th Grade: 45
6th Grade: 40
5th Grade and Younger: 35

Students may also qualify for the 2020 US Geography Championships (and International Geography Bee) Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships by qualifying for the USGC/IGB Junior Varsity Division’s National Championships on the A, B, or C Set version of the National Qualifying Exam. These are offered at all National History Bee and Bowl Varsity and Junior Varsity Regional and State tournament sites. Students must finish in the top half of JV students at their site, or otherwise finish above the A, B, or C Set National Median Scores, or score 40 or higher (if in 7th or 8th grade) or 25 or higher (if in 6th grade and younger). Qualifying on the basis of scoring at least 40 or 25 only qualifies eligible students for the Middle School or Elementary National Championships, not the JV one though.

Students only need to qualify off any one of the five versions of the USGC 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 USGC 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).

Finally, Middle School and Elementary School students who finish in the top 50% of students in an International Geography Bee Regional Quiz Tournament also qualify for USGC Nationals. At these tournaments, 7th and 8th graders compete together, and students in 6th grade and younger compete together. Students can qualify for Nationals by finishing either in the top 50% of students in their specific grade (for 6th-8th graders), among all 5th graders and younger (for Elementary School students), or in the combined totals of 7th & 8th graders OR the combined totals of all 6th graders and younger.

Age Divisions at Nationals
For the 2020 National Championships, we will be holding 4 separate age divisions at Middle School and Elementary School Nationals for USGC and IGB. These 4 divisions correspond to the grade a student is in and are: 8th, 7th, 6th, and 5th grade and younger.

The cost to compete at the 2020 US Geography Championships Middle School and Elementary School National Championships is $85 per student. Students might also be interested in competing in the International Geography Bee National Championships, the cost for which is also $85, as well as the National Historical Geography Exam, the cost for which is $20.

Entry fees can either be paid by credit card on PayPal when one registers for Nationals on the website here or by check to “International Academic Competitions” and sent to the following address and received by May 25:

IAC Nationals
PO Box 875
Tenafly, NJ 07670

Refund Policy

1. Refund requested on or before May 27 (registration deadline) – refunded in full minus $25 processing fee.
2. Refund requested between May 27 and June 4 – 50% refund
3. Refund requested after June 4 – no refund

Format of Middle School and Elementary Division of USGC Nationals

The 2020 US Geography Championships Middle School and Elementary Division National Championships will consist of 3 separate parts, a multiple choice exam, a written response exam, and a cartographic skills exam. Sample questions for the written exam are available here and samples of the geography skills exam questions are available here. For samples for the multiple choice exams, as well as additional samples for the other two exams, please also see the exams used at the 2017, 2018, and 2019 National Championships which are available for download here along with their answer keys.

From a timing standpoint, the US Geography Championships exams will be split into 2 parts: a part with the written exam and the first half of the multiple choice exam (45 minutes total), then a 15 minute break, and then the second half will be the map exam and the second half of the multiple choice exam (another 45 minutes total). Students will be ranked on all 3 exams on the rank points principle:

For the Overall USGC 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 on Geography Skills Exam
4. Additional 5 question Tiebreaker Multiple Choice Exams (this process may be repeated as needed until a winner is determined).

Students who wish to compete in a buzzer-based quiz competition should register for the International Geography Bee’s US National Championships as well.

A total of $20,000 worth of prizes will be on offer at the 2020 IAC Middle School and Elementary School National Championships! Click here to download a file showing how these prizes are allocated, including prizes for the US Geography Championships. Medals, plaques, and/or trophies will also be awarded to the top finishers.

For further questions, please contact info@geographyolympiad.com

Thanks, and good luck in qualifying! We hope to see you at Nationals in June!