Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the Academic Bowl?

Quiz tournaments, in which teams of high school students compete against each other in local, regional, and national events, is popular among high schools and colleges throughout the country. The Gallaudet University Academic Bowl competition consists of a question and answer game of general knowledge and quick recall. Questions are drawn from the following categories: Social Studies; Language and Literature; Science and Technology;  Mathematics; The Arts; Deaf Studies; Current Events; Potpourri; and Pop Culture, Leisure, and Sports.

2. When and why was it established?

Gallaudet University established its first National Academic Bowl in 1997 with the goal of promoting academic competition among school teams, and to foster academic excellence and achievement among deaf and hard of hearing students across the country.

3. What is the format of the Academic Bowl competition?

There are five regional competitions across the United States: Southeast, Southwest, West, Midwest, and Northeast. Up to 18 teams compete in each regional competition, with two pools of 9 teams each. The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals. The winners of the semifinal matches advance to the Regional championship match while the losers play in the third place match. 

The top four teams from each region are automatically invited to the National competition held at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. All 3rd place teams in each regional pool will take a wild card test. The top four scoring wild card teams out of the 10 3rd place pool finishers will then be invited to the National competition.

Those 24 teams will be split into four pools with six teams in each pool. All teams will play a total of five Preliminary matches. After the completion of the Preliminary matches, all teams will advance to the playoff bracket. Each team will be seeded according to where they finished in their pool. The winners of the National semifinal matches advance to the National Championship match shown live via Gallaudet's website. The losers of the semifinal matches play in the Third Place match which is also shown live via Gallaudet's website.

4. What will an Academic Bowl match look like?

The Preliminary matches will have three rounds. Round One will consist of 12 toss-up questions and 12 bonus questions. The first player on either team to buzz in gets to answer. If that player is wrong, the first player from the opposing team gets a chance to answer as well. If a player gets a toss-up question right, a bonus question is awarded and the entire team can discuss the answer.

Round Two will also consist of 12 questions. Players will take turns answering the questions with no communication amongst teams allowed.

The Final Round consists of 10 questions relating to one category and usually one topic. Teams are given two minutes to discuss and record their answers.

During the Playoff matches, the number of questions in Round One and Round Two goes up from 12 to 16. During the Championship match, the number of questions in Rounds One and Two goes up to 20. The number of questions in the Final Round for the Championship match also goes up to 15.

More details are shared in the 2013-2014 Rules and Guidelines manual.

5. Who can participate?

The Academic Bowl is open to teams of high school students currently enrolled in recognized schools or programs for deaf and hard of hearing students. Schools or programs may be residential schools, day schools, mainstream programs, or any other type of educational program. The number of players allowed on a team is (4) four. All players must be in grades 9-12. If a school or program does not have enough students to field a team, one may be formed by combining students from another school or program and submitting a request to the National Academic Bowl office. When a single school or program does not have enough students to field its own Academic Bowl team, teams may be assembled by combining students from two or more schools or programs within a 25-mile radius of each other. In some cases, as in a school in a rural area, the school may petition in writing for special consideration, which may include a larger radius. Other options are for a mainstreamed or home-schooled student to join the team of a local school or program for the deaf. All written petitions for special consideration will be considered by the National Academic Bowl office.

6. How many teams are allowed to participate in the Academic Bowl competition?

A maximum of 90 teams may participate in the Academic Bowl competition with 18 teams in each of the five regions. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis. A waiting list will be established for teams that do not make the cut. In the event a team is forced to withdraw from the competition, the first team on the waiting list will be offered the opportunity to participate in the competition.

If a region is full, then teams on the waiting list for that region may be invited to another region if there are spots available in that region.

7. Is there any expense for participating in the Academic Bowl competition?

Schools and programs that participate in the Regional Academic Bowl competitions are expected to make their own travel arrangements and cover their own travel expenses. A non-refundable fee of $300, to help offset Academic Bowl operation costs, will be charged to all participating teams. This $300 fee is waived for all Regional host schools. Schools may apply for a registration fee waiver if they already need to fundraise a large amount of money for travel expenses to the Regional competition. All requests for registration fee waivers must be made to the National Academic Bowl office by October 24th, 2014.   All team registration fees are non-refundable.

Accommodations and meals will be covered by Gallaudet University during the Regional competitions. Schools and programs will be expected to inform travel arrangements, including time of arrival at and departure from the airport closest to the Regional competition sites.

The 24 teams that compete at the National Academic Bowl competition will have all of their expenses covered, including travel, lodging, and meals.

8. When will the competition(s) be held?

In 2014-2015, the Regional Academic Bowl locations and dates are as follows:

Northeast Regional- December 11-14, 2014 @ New York State School for the Deaf (fly to Syracuse)

West Regional- February 13-16 (Fri-Mon), 2015 @ Oregon School for the Deaf (fly to Portland)

Midwest Regional- February 19-22, 2015 @ Kentucky School for the Deaf (fly to Louisville)

Southeast Regional- February 26-March 1, 2015 @ Delaware School for the Deaf (fly to Philadelphia)

Southwest Regional- March 26-29, 2015 @ New Mexico School for the Deaf (fly to Albuquerque)

National Competition- April 25-28, 2015 (Sat-Tues) @ Gallaudet University

9. What if my school needs to withdraw from the competition after I have submitted an application and fee?

If your team needs to withdraw from the competition, please inform the National Academic Bowl office immediately so that a team on the waiting list can be invited to participate. The team entry fee is non-refundable.

10. Can families and visitors watch the competition?

Families and visitors are more than welcome. The competition schedule will be posted on the website. There is no charge to attend.

11. What is the best way to prepare my team for the competition?

Each coach varies with the type of preparation they use with their team. Some teams practice after school, weekends, or in the evenings. Some teams hold practice competitions with neighboring public schools, or with parents and their school community. Some schools even schedule matches via video conferencing with other schools. More information can be found in the Rules and Guidelines manual.

12. Who do I contact for more information about the Academic Bowl?

You can contact Jesse Saunders, Associate Director of Youth Programs & Outreach, at the National Academic Bowl office at Gallaudet via email at

Contact Information

Associate Director:  Jesse Saunders

Edward Miner Gallaudet (EMG) building, Room 115

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