Academic WorldQuest | High School

Quick Link to the 2019/2020 WorldQuest Information [HERE]

Join the Quest!

This year, 2019-2020 marks the 8th Tennessee Academic WorldQuest competition and the 17th annual competition among the network of World Affairs Councils of America.

WorldQuest National Competition Washington WACA Quiz

Academic WorldQuest

Well done to the Academic WorldQuest team from Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School in Nashville, winners of the 2019 Anne Smedinghoff Academic WorldQuest Challenge tournament in February 2019, and representatives of Tennessee at the National Championship Match of WorldQuest in Washington, D.C.

What is it?

Academic WorldQuest is the flagship youth education program of the Tennessee World Affairs Council and the national network of World Affairs Councils. It is a team game testing high school students’ knowledge of international affairs. In the game, four-person teams compete by answering multiple-choice and fill-in the blank questions divided into ten unique and engaging thematic categories. Academic WorldQuest is unique to the world affairs council system and has no direct competitor among K-12 knowledge-based competitions in the US or abroad.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council organizes an annual State Championship match hosted at Belmont University usually in February each year. It is preceded by a match in the fall that allows teams to practice against future competitors.


The winning team in February advances to the National Championship hosted by the World Affairs Councils of America national office in Washington, DC with transportation and lodging provided by TN WAC.  The TN WAC organizes WorldQuest for university students and for young professionals but a national competition is not available at these levels.]

WorldQuest is a flagship program of the World Affairs Council’s education outreach efforts and is integrated with other elements such as the “What in the World?” Weekly Quiz — which sharpens students’ knowledge of current global events and the “Global Scholars Diploma” program.


Academic WorldQuest was created by the Charlotte Council and is now widely played at the adult and high school levels around the country. It is a team game testing competitors’ knowledge of international affairs, geography, history, and culture. The World Affairs Councils of America started the national competition in Washington, DC in March 2003. Participants come from high schools that work with the World Affairs Council network.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council launched its first Academic WorldQuest match in 2009 with a team from Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnet High School of Nashville taking the state championship and going on to Washington, DC in April of that year for the national title match.

The first Tennessee Academic WorldQuest Champs

The 2012 Academic WorldQuest state title was won by Montgomery Bell Academy. Students John Mellow, William Stewart, McKay Proctor and Jake Simons, led by teacher/coach Annie B. Williams represented Tennessee at the national championship held at Georgetown University on April 21, 2012.

In 2013 the Tennessee Academic WorldQuest championship was won by a team from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, a repeat performance for MBA.  Teacher Annie B. Williams was coach for the team which consisted of Robert Papel, John Mellow, McKay Proctor, and Jake Simons. Participating teams came from Gallatin High School, Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnet High School in Nashville and four teams from Hillsboro High School in Nashville.


The 2016 Academic WorldQuest Tennessee title was taken for the second time by a team from Martin Luther King, Jr., Magnet High School in Nashville. Teacher/coach Catherine Kelly and assistant coach Elizabeth Ashwood led MLK students Jocelyn Hartley, April Townson, Regan Goodrich and Kevin Gomez to the national championship match at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on April 23, 2016 and a finish in 8th place out of 49 teams from across America.


The Grand Prize

The first-place team of the State WorldQuest Championship travels to Washington D.C. to compete in the National Academic WorldQuest Competition representing Tennessee. The cost of travel and lodging for the trip is covered for the winning team and one teacher/chaperone by the Tennessee World Affairs Council. A university student assistant coach will also be a part of the national championship match trip if previously registered with the team in the state match.

The national match, called the Carlos and Malú Alvarez Academic WorldQuest National Competition, is usually held on a Saturday in late April. It is attended by more than 200 of the nation’s most promising students in about 50 teams, along with their parents, teachers, and chaperones. The 3-hour competition is a unique opportunity for many students to visit the nation’s capital for the first time. There is a weekend of substantive programming to enhance the experience. Examples of past National Competition weekend activities include embassy receptions, speeches by ambassadors, discussions with experts on competition topics, and cultural activities.

Additional prizes for the Tennessee State Championship match will be announced.

Why Academic WorldQuest is Important

With funding for school programs other than “basics” falling away, the opportunities for high school students to learn geography, world history, and world affairs have dwindled in American high schools while globalization and interdependence continues to knit the world more closely together each passing day.

The Tennessee World Affairs Council does much to counter this trend through its programs: distinguished visiting speakers events; seminars; availability of global affairs curriculum units for high schools through our national network; the organizing of teachers’ workshops, and the sending abroad of teachers and students. We want to build on our already existing and successful programs that seek to reverse this disturbing trend regarding global affairs awareness education. Toward that end: Academic WorldQuest is a “Game with a Purpose.”

Academic WorldQuest has to be fun, or you’re not doing it right.

Program Structure

The competition is played between 4-person teams who answer rounds of multiple-choice and fill in the blank questions projected onto a screen. The questions test their knowledge of current affairs, world leaders, geography, recent history, flags, international organizations, countries, regions, the world economy, culture, religion, and more. A full competition is 100 questions, 10 rounds of 10 questions per round. The winning team is the team with the highest number of right answers.

Approximately 3000 students across the country participate in local competitions hosted by about 50 local World Affairs Councils. Winning teams are invited to represent their high school and the Tennessee World Affairs Council at the national competition, held in the spring each year in Washington, DC.

Teams from all over Tennessee compete.

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