The International History Bowl is a buzzer-based history quiz competition for teams of up to 6 students. Four students can play at any one time on a team (the other one or two students, if you have them, can substitute in between the quarters or games). There is no minimum number of students on a team; you can have a team of three, two, or even one student. Teams consisting of just one or two students play for a discounted entry fee.  Please see below for a comprehensive account of how the Bowl works. If you have any further questions, please email our Executive Director, Nolwenn Léon Madden

> Sample Questions for our Canadian Tournaments & Other Resources


In order to compete in the History Bowl, you must be 19 years or younger at the time of your Regional Bowl. You must also be enrolled in a primary or secondary school at the time of your regional tournament (or have graduated within the past two months, and not yet have started university studies).

In order to compete in the Junior Varsity Division of the History Bowl, all team members must be in 10th grade or younger. If you wish to compete in the Middle School division, all team members must be in 8th grade or younger.

There is no younger age limit – a brilliant and well-behaved 8 year-old is welcome to compete. Also, younger students can play on a Varsity or Junior Varsity team, but ALL players on a younger team must fulfill that division’s age requirements.

Likewise, there is no limit on types of schools – local, international, state, private, religious schools, and homeschoolers are all welcome.

Students are allowed to compete at up to two separate Regional History Bowls in Canada this academic year, as long as they are using different questions. Click on the dots on the map to check and see which tournament is using which question set (the question sets are called Alpha Set and Beta Set). Students do not have to compete in the province their school is in; there is no geographic limit in that sense.

Tournament Format

At all History Bowls held on weekends, there are five preliminary rounds with four quarters each. (If any tournaments are held after school on weekdays, these would have 3 preliminary rounds). In each round, two teams play each other. Depending on how many teams are in the competition, either the top 2-8 highest ranking teams from the preliminary rounds in each division, (based first on Win-Loss record, then by total points) then compete in the final rounds. The three divisions are kept as separate as possible, but unless there are at least 4 Junior Varsity and middle school teams, then some crossover matches (which count like any other game in the rankings) may be necessary. Each round takes about 30-40 minutes to complete; playoff rounds usually go somewhat quicker than the prelims.

The finals are usually single elimination in format; if we take four teams, then the first seed (ranked first by record, then by total points) plays the fourth seed in the quarterfinals, the second seed plays the third. The number of teams who makes the playoffs depends on how many teams register for each tournament. Sometimes the playoffs work slightly differently; if this is the case, your tournament director will explain how so before the tournament begins.

Teams who finish in the top half in their division (or who win a playoff match) also gain eligibility to attend the Canadian Championships at the end of the school year. If we have have 5 teams in a division, then the top 3 would qualify (i.e. we round up).

Game Format

The History Bowl is a team history quiz competition played over four quarters in each match. Download the sample packet to see how a game progresses!

Note that middle school games have slightly fewer questions in the 1st and 3rd quarters. Students each have a buzzer and on tossup questions, attempt to be the first student to ring in and answer correctly. Students may ring in at any point in the question – they are encouraged to interrupt the moderator to do so. After they ring in (which locks out any other student from answering), they give their answer. If they are correct, they get ten points. If incorrect, neither they nor their team members can buzz again on the question. There are no negative points for any incorrect answers at any point in the Bowl. On bonus questions and 60 second round questions, students consult with their teammates to arrive at an answer – buzzers are not used for these questions.

The team with the most points at the end of the game wins, of course. See the attached sample packet for how a game progresses, and the styles of questions which we use.

Question Content

Questions will reference the history of the arts, sciences, religion, philosophy, language, historical geography, recent history, and even a bit of the history of sports and entertainment. Of course, many questions will also reference political, diplomatic, social, and military history too. Questions can reference events in the past from all over the world, and from all eras in the past – from ancient Egypt until the present day, so be sure to review some basic information of eras and locations whose histories you might not have covered in your history classes.

Resources for Training

The IHBB Canada Study Guide contains both a list of topics that can be referenced in our tournaments and some strategies for preparation.

Past questions used at our tournaments in Canada are quite possibly your best resource for practicing. We use new questions each year, but the people, places, and events in history that are referenced in questions from one year to the next are usually quite similar.

Please also see NAQT’s (National Academic Quiz Tournaments) “You gotta know” pages and the History Channel’s Ultimate History Quiz.

Additional Sample Questions

A sample high school level History Bowl packet (this level is used for both the Junior Varsity and Varsity Divisions) for our Canadian tournaments can be downloaded on our resources page, along with a Middle School Division packet.

You can find additional question packets from past tournaments we have held in Asia here though keep in mind that these packets lack the standard amount of Canadian history questions that tournaments in Canada will use.

Also, see (though this has a heavy US American emphasis and references all subjects) and our past questions from the USA. Please note that the questions you’ll find here have more US American history content than the questions we use in Canada.