2023-2024 NSC Qualification Guidelines

New This Year

We have simplified NSC Qualification.

There is now just one tier of qualifiers (no more Platinum, Gold, Regular) that qualifies the top 20% of teams.

And we have simplified the procedure for determining if a tournament qualifies to the following:

  1. All teams are guaranteed at least 8 games.
  2. The tournament is not restricted to novice players or teams.

Tournament directors can fill out this form to start the qualification process.

For Tournament Directors

Tournaments posted to the hsquizbowl tournament database should receive an email about qualification within about a week. You can also directly enter your tournament into the system with our form. You’ll then receive follow-up mails about your qualifier status and asking for stats.


There are two methods of qualifying for the NSC:

(1) finishing in a high enough place at a qualifier tournament, and (2) making a successful application for wild-card status.

The following information explains both of those methods in detail and supersedes all previous announcements on NSC qualification.

A calendar of qualifier events and an index of qualified teams are maintained on our website.

Multiple teams from the same school may qualify for the NSC. Each team qualifying from a school must consist of a unique roster of players in order to obtain a separate bid. For instance, if two teams from the same school both finish in the top 20% at the same tournament, then both of those teams will qualify for the NSC (since they would have to have distinct players). Similarly, if a team from “City High School A” consisting of the players A, B, C and D qualified at the “Fall Invitational Tournament” and if a team from that same school labeled “City High School A” and consisting of the players E, F, G and H qualified at the “Winter Invitational Tournament”, then City High School would qualify two teams since it did so with two distinct rosters. However, City High School would not qualify a third team for the NSC if a team consisting of players A, E, H and I qualified at the “Spring Invitational Tournament” since players A and E had already qualified for the NSC.

Teams attending the NSC do not need to use the same composition of players that they used in the tournament(s) at which they qualified. For instance, using the City High School example above, City High School could send the following two teams to the NSC: One consisting of players A, B, E and F, and one consisting of H, I, J and K (i.e. teams may add players who did not attend the tournament at which they qualified to their rosters).

If you have any specific questions about how many teams your school has qualified for the NSC, please contact Mike Bentley at mbentleypace@gmail.com.

Qualifier Tournaments

Any tournament can become an NSC qualifier event if it uses head-to-head, two-team buzzer competition, in a format which is largely dependent on academic pyramidal tossups, offers all teams at least eight games and is not restricted to what can be considered “novice” / “junior varsity” teams.

Tournament directors whose events meet the above criteria will be offered qualifier status as their events are discovered. Until we hear back from a tournament director, tournaments will be listed as “provisional qualifiers” so long as they meet the above requirements. See below for more information about provisional qualifier tournaments. Tournament directors may opt out of the list of official NSC qualifier tournaments after being contacted by PACE.

Once a tournament is announced as a qualifier, teams that qualified at that tournament cannot be removed from our list of qualified teams. PACE will remove all references to a given tournament from our site upon request from that event’s tournament director, but PACE will not let teams that have already been announced as qualifying teams lose their status due to such a request.

The above paragraphs imply that you do not need to directly contact PACE to make your event an NSC qualifier if it already meets the standards laid out below. However, should you have any questions about your tournament or team, please contact Mike Bentley at mbentleypace@gmail.com.

Schools which are eligible to attend the NSC and which host a qualifier event during that competition year receive a discount on their entry fee for that NSC (-$10) for each such tournament.

Tournaments may become NSC qualifiers irrespective of whether they purchase their question set from vendors, use a set by another independent writing team, or write their own questions. PACE does not consider whether or not a tournament is affiliated with another national championship or organization when offering NSC-qualifier status. In the past, many tournaments have allowed teams to qualify both for PACE and for other nationals without any conflict. We expect and encourage this situation to continue.

State Tournaments

State tournaments without any eligibility restrictions or regional stages feeding into a championship site will be treated as regular tournaments. State tournaments that have their own qualification systems, regional stages feeding into a state-wide event, or other deviations from standard tournament procedure will be handled on a case-by-case basis. PACE will reach out to the directors of state tournaments to clear up any questions about these tournaments. As in past years, PACE does not reserve specific spots in the NSC field for state champions.

Wild Card Bids

Teams that have not qualified for the NSC through the above system can submit a wild card bid starting on January 1st. More information can be found on the NSC Registration page.


In general, teams cannot qualify for the PACE NSC through their performance in leagues or local weekday conferences. However, directors of quizbowl leagues should e-mail Mike Bentley at mbentleypace@gmail.com to discuss any special situations regarding organized quizbowl play of those kinds. The Wild Card Committee may consider performance at local leagues in the event that an applying team has a lack of available opportunities to play quizbowl tournaments in their area.

Subject-Specific Competitions

Teams cannot qualify for the PACE NSC through competitions whose questions focus entirely or predominantly on a single academic subject (e.g. National History Bee and Bowl, National Science Bowl). The Wild Card Committee may consider performance at subject-specific academic competitions in the event that an applying team has a lack of available opportunities to play all-subject quizbowl in their area.

Reserving Spots

Once a team qualifies for the NSC and it is later than November 1st, that team can fill out the registration form. The team’s spot will be guaranteed when PACE receives the $100 deposit from the team.

If you have any questions about NSC qualification, please contact Mike Bentley at mbentleypace@gmail.com.