Bible Quiz began in the 1961-62 season covering the book of acts with District-level competition. Regional and National competitions weren’t held until 1963. The history section has been divided into multiple eras.
Single Elimination Era (1963 - 1965)
The first three National Finals (1963 - 1965) were single elimination events composed of the winners of each of the eight regions.
- Quizzer could only answer five correct to quiz-out or answer-out.
- If a quizzer answered three incorrectly, they errored-out and a team was not allowed to replace that individual.
- 8 total teams competing.
- Top scorers were not officially announced until 1968 and the single elimination format makes determining a top scorer difficult. As a guideline, the top scorer from the winning team has been selected as the top scorer for the event.
- Due to the single elimination format, it is virtually impossible to compare the results of these years with those of other eras. However, the records do include certain statistics such as winner and top scorers.
- Results from this incipient era are sparse, so these years may never fully be incorporated into the records.
Eight Team Era (1966 - 1985)
From 1966 to 1985, Bible Quiz National Finals consisted of eight-team round-robins, which was a great advance for all the participants. Still, only the winners of each of the eight regions was allowed to participate.
Noteworthy Rule Changes:
- Error-out quizzers could be replaced.
- Answering out (i.e., quizzing out) required six correct answers.
- Addition of on-time points (10).
- Question writing rules made interrupting very difficult. For example, a question could contain the word “quote” without a declaration of it being scripture text.
- 8 team round robin.
- 16 teams competed in 1984 and 1985 in separate 8 team divisions with a playoff between the top teams from each division.
- 1983: College-aged teenagers excluded from quizzing
Until this year, the rules stated that a quizzer could participate as long as they were not 19 in September of the beginning quiz year. This meant that certain individuals born in the last three months of the year could quiz a total of eight years (often in college in the extra one or two years). Concerns about the large gap in age between 7th graders and college sophomores was deemed to be detrimental to the program. Therefore, after the 1982 quiz year, the rules changed to their current restriction on age and grade. Naturally, this had quite an impact on the program. Many teams in 1982 lost the services of their older quizzers and this changed the program forever.
- 1984 & 1985: 2nd Place Regional teams allowed to quiz
Participation at Nationals was expanded to include first and second place winners from each region. It had long been known that many of the better teams were not able to participate at Nationals since they lost their regional final. Therefore, to stimulate the growth of the program and to aid those better teams who otherwise wouldn’t make it to Nationals, the top sixteen teams were allowed to participate. However, this wonderful idea was awkwardly implemented in 1984 and 1985. The sixteen teams were randomly placed into two eight-team brackets after which the top two teams from each would compete in a round-robin for the championship. Naturally, this caused multiple complaints as in each year one bracket was composed of the dominant teams.
Expansion Era (1986 - 1999)
Starting in 1986, Bible Quiz National Finals underwent an expansion that would see it grow from 16 teams to 20 teams to 24 teams:
- 1986 - 1992: 16 teams were allowed to compete made up of the top two teams from each region. 17 teams were present in 1987 and 1992 due to extenuating circumstances.
- 1993 - 1995: 20 teams were allowed to compete made up of the top two teams from each region and the top four third place teams from a special tournament on the Monday of nationals.
- 1996 - 1999: 24 teams were allowed to compete. In 1996, the third place team from the Northwest region declined to compete, so there were only 23 teams.
As expansion continued, there was a need to recognize individual achievement beyond the top scorer trophy, especially for outstanding quizzers on very balanced teams (e.g., every quizzer is a high scoring quizzer). This, along with the difficulty during the odd years of 1984 & 1985 (top scorer couldn’t be determined as it wasn’t a round robin) led to the creation of the Individual Tournament in 1986. Initially, it was composed of the top 16 scorers and has since expanded significantly.
- Eight-team round robin except for 1984 and 1985 where there were 16 teams in different divisions.
Modern Era (2000+)
Starting in 2000, Bible Quiz National Finals has consisted of 40 teams, typically consisting of the top five teams from each region. If teams chose not to participate, wildcards are chosen to include lower placed teams (sixth- or even seventh-place teams have competed). On Monday, teams compete in multiple preliminary groups for a spot in the Championship Division. The top 20 teams compete for the National Championship (1st - 20th place) and the bottom 20 teams compete in the Challenger Division (21st - 40th place).
- 2000 - 2006: 32 teams made up of the second, third, fourth, and fifth place teams from Regionals competed in 4 preliminary groups. The top three of each group joined the Regional champions in the Championship Division.
- 2007+: 40 teams competed in 5 preliminary groups on Monday with the top four from each group advancing to the Championship Division.
- 2021: Due to only 31 teams attending Nationals (2020 Nationals was canceled due to COVID-19), all teams participated in a single, 31 team round robin with each team receiving a bye.
Noteworthy Rule Changes:
- In 2006, quizzing out only requires 5 correct answers with a twenty point bonus, making it possible for a fourth quizzer to quiz-out. This decreased a perfect score to 150 and increased the maximum team score from 380 to 430 points.