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The High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) is a premier national tournament run by NAQT every May, typically over Memorial Day weekend. The tournament is a two-day affair, with preliminary rounds Saturday and playoff rounds Sunday. There are also optional practice rounds on the Friday before.

The HSNCT currently draws the largest field of any national tournament. In 2013 it attracted 256 high school teams from 203 different schools. The most common way to qualify for the HSNCT is to finish in the top 15% at a tournament using NAQT questions during the season, though there are alternative ways listed on the NAQT HSNCT website.

The HSNCT tournament set contains 27 packets, each of 24 tossups and 24 bonuses. Its distribution can be found here. Matches use nine-minute halves, so it is common for a match to not get through all of the tossups in a packet. When the timer goes off, moderators finish the question they are reading, and if that question is a tossup that gets answered they read the associated bonus.

(The following two paragraphs describe the format used from 2008 through 2013. Past years were similar but not identical and formats in future years may change based on decisions to be made by NAQT.)

On Saturday, the first day of competition, each team plays ten matches. There are fifteen or sixteen rounds, so each team gets five or six byes. HSNCT uses power-matching; each team is guaranteed to play each of its matches against opponents that have a record within one win of its own record. (In other words, if your current record is 3-5, then your next opponent will be 4-4, 3-5, or 2-6.) Teams need to win at least six of their ten matches to continue play on Sunday.

On Sunday, teams that won six matches on Saturday are eliminated by their first Sunday loss, and teams that won seven or more matches on Saturday are eliminated by their second Sunday loss. With a few exceptions, teams on the verge of elimination play each other, while teams that still have one match to lose also play each other. Play continues until all teams but one are eliminated, and the rest of the final standings in the tournament are based on which teams last the longest on Sunday before being eliminated.

From 2001 to 2013, the HSNCT also recognized a Small School Champion. Schools fitting the criteria played as part of the regular tournament Saturday and Sunday. After they were eliminated from the regular tournament, they played in a separate set of playoff rounds that determined the Small School Champion. As of the 2014 HSNCT the Small School Champion will instead be decided at a separate event.

Select matches from the HSNCT from 2005 to 2009 are recorded and appear on the 9 Minutes podcast or the NAQT HSNCT website. In 2011 and 2012 some rounds were posted to iHigh.com.



Year Champion Second Third Fourth Small School Champion Location Field Size
1999 Detroit Catholic Central Walton Brookwood A Edmond Memorial, North Kansas City,
& Edmond Santa Fe
not awarded Norman, OK 26
2000 State College A Governor's School A Eleanor Roosevelt Eisenhower not awarded Atlanta, GA 52
2001 Detroit Catholic Central Detroit Country Day State College A Riverdale not awarded Ann Arbor, MI 40
2002 St. John's Irmo Detroit Catholic Central Detroit Country Day Kent City Austin, TX 54
2003 Thomas Jefferson Dorman St. John's Walton Cutter Morning Star Myrtle Beach, SC 62
2004 Thomas Jefferson Maggie Walker St. John's Detroit Catholic Central Cutter Morning Star Houston, TX 64
2005 Thomas Jefferson Lakeside State College Solon Danville Chicago, IL 96
2006 Richard Montgomery State College Maggie Walker Detroit Catholic Central Danville Chicago, IL 128
2007 Maggie Walker State College Thomas Jefferson Dorman Danville Chicago, IL 160
2008 Thomas Jefferson Wilmington Charter Walt Whitman Dorman B Russell Chicago, IL 176
2009 Wilmington Charter Dorman A State College A Detroit Catholic Central Ottawa Hills Chicago, IL 192
2010 Maggie Walker State College A LASA A Bellarmine A South Range Chicago, IL 200
2011 State College A LASA A Bellarmine A Stevenson George Mason Atlanta, GA 224
2012 Bellarmine A Detroit Catholic Central A LASA A Centennial Beachwood Atlanta, GA 240
2013 LASA A Ladue A Loyola St. John's Macomb Atlanta, GA 256
  • †undefeated


  • The formats used since 2000 do not allow for fourth-place ties, though the 1999 format did and produced a three-way tie noted above.
  • The small school champion was named beginning in 2002, through a process of tangent playoffs at the HSNCT that lasted until 2013. Beginning in 2014, the NAQT small school winner will be named at the SSNCT and will no longer be formally recognized at HSNCT.

Medal count

Team Championships Finals Appearances (Top 2) Trophies (Top 3) Leaderboards (Top 4)
Bellarmine 1 1 2 3
Brookwood 0 0 1 1
Centennial 0 0 0 1
Detroit Catholic Central 2 3 4 7
Detroit Country Day 0 1 2 2
Dorman 0 2 2 4
Edmond Memorial 0 0 0 1
Edmond Santa Fe 0 0 0 1
Eisenhower 0 0 0 1
Eleanor Roosevelt 0 0 1 1
Irmo 0 1 1 1
Ladue 0 1 1 1
Lakeside (WA) 0 1 1 1
LASA 1 2 4 4
Loyola 0 0 1 1
Maggie Walker 2 3 4 4
North Kansas City 0 0 0 1
Richard Montgomery 1 1 1 1
Riverdale 0 0 0 1
Solon 0 0 0 1
State College 2 5 8 8
Stevenson 0 0 0 1
St. John's 1 1 3 4
Thomas Jefferson 4 4 5 5
Walton 0 1 1 2
Walt Whitman 0 0 1 1
Wilmington Charter 1 2 2 2


See also

  • PACE NSC, another high school national tournament
  • NAC, high school nationals considered to be of inferior quality