Procedure for National Geographic Bee

The winner of each school-level competition takes a written test, and the top one-hundred in each state or territory qualify for the state Bee. Then, the winners of the fifty-five state and territory Bees advance to the national competition. At the national level, after another competition, the top ten contestants qualify for the finals, moderated by game show host Alex Trebek.

To determine the ten national finalists, the 55 contestants are split into five groups of 11 for a preliminary round. A perfect or near-perfect performance is generally required, and a tiebreaker after the initial round is frequently needed to determine the last finalists.

In the national finals, a contestant is eliminated after two non-answers or incorrect answers. When the field is narrowed to two, those two finalists enter the championship round, in which they are asked the same five questions. The contestant answering the most correctly is the national champion.

School-level bees are held from mid-November to mid-January, all state-level bees are on the same day in late March or early April, and the national bee is held over two days (preliminaries on the first day, finals on the second) in late May.