School Bee

How Does the School Bee Work?

Most questions at the school-level bee give many clues. For the first several rounds, you get a choice between two options. As the rounds progress, the difficulty increases and you no longer get options. (For examples, click here.)

In the championship round, the difficulty increases to the level of questions asked at the state level.

If you end up in a tie-breaker round at the school level, watch out! Many strong contestants have been eliminated by an unfortunate question.

At the school level, the majority of the rounds (over 50%) will probably be U.S. state questions. However, National Geographic changes things every year, so there’s no guarantee that this year’s Bee will look similar to last year’s.

United States

  1. Capitals and major cities (e.g., Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois)

  2. Landforms (major ones, e.g., Great Divide Basin, Bitterroot Range)

  3. Bodies of Water (e.g., Great Salt Lake, Lake Superior, Missouri River)

  4. Physical/Surface Features (e.g., Upper and Lower Peninsulas in Michigan)

  5. Biomes and Vegetation (e.g., joshua trees in California, forests in Virginia)

  6. Climate and Weather (e.g., hurricanes affecting South Carolina, Tornado Alley)

  7. Landscape (e.g., Louisiana is wet and marshy, Arizona is dry)

  8. Culture (e.g., rodeos in Texas, Cajuns in Louisiana)

  9. Universities and their towns (e.g., Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland; U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York)

  10. History (e.g., Lewis and Clark, gold rush, Gadsden Purchase, explorers)

  11. Exports and Resources (e.g., peanuts in Georgia, petroleum in Oklahoma)

  12. National Parks, National Monuments, and National Seashores (e.g., Muir Woods National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Glacier National Park)

  13. Landmarks (e.g., Sears Tower in Chicago, Space Needle in Seattle)


  1. Capitals and major cities (e.g., Rome, Italy, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Shanghai China, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

  2. Landforms (major ones, e.g., Tibetan Plateau, Andes Mountains)

  3. Bodies of Water (e.g., Caspian Sea, Amazon River)

  4. Physical/Surface Features (e.g., Arabian Peninsula, Isthmus of Panama)

  5. Biomes and Vegetation (e.g., tundra, steppe, savannah)

  6. Climate and Weather (e.g., monsoons in India, floods in Bangladesh, droughts in Africa)

  7. Landscape (e.g., tropical in Colombia, dry in Australia, volcanoes in Iceland)

  8. Culture (e.g., sheep farming in New Zealand, pandas in China)

  9. History (e.g., fall of the Berlin Wall, break-up of Soviet Union)

  10. Exports and Resources (e.g., gold in South Africa, oil in Middle East)

  11. Politics (e.g., disputed region of Kashmir, apartheid)

  12. UNESCO World Heritage Sites (well-known ones, e.g., Machu Piccu, Mesa Verde National Park)

  13. Landmarks (e.g., Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower)

For examples of the types of questions you will see at the School Bee, see this page.