National Bible Bee

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The National Bible Bee is Bible quiz competition for students aged 7–18.[1] It was first run in 2009 and is sponsored by the Shelby Kennedy Foundation, and in that inaugural year it awarded more than $260,000 in prizes. The competition includes elements of both Bible knowledge and Bible memorization, as well as both written and oral components. Students first compete at the local level, with winners advancing to the national competition.[2]

The winner of the 2009 competition was Daniel Staddon of West Virginia, who clinched the title by correctly reciting Psalm 145 in its entirety. Like 89% of the 300 national competitors, and 100% of the national finalists, Staddon is homeschooled.

The 2010 contest begins in a preliminary way in January.[3]

Accepted Bible Translations

The competition accepted five translations for its inaugural year:

The majority of competitors recited from the NIV translation, though the KJV also proved popular and was the choice of the eventual winner. The NIV is written at the lowest grade level (some say as low as the 4th grade level), which may have made it easier to memorize.

Contest rules

The rules for the 2009 contest are publicly available.[4] In a nutshell, there is a written and oral exam required for qualification to the national contest. Only 100 contestants in each of three age categories will qualify for the national level.

Written Test

The written test is one hour long with 220 multiple-choice questions, "divided into Bible Knowledge Questions, Bible Memory Questions, and Bonus Questions." Each of the regular 200 questions is worth 1 point apiece, and the 20 Bonus Questions are worth 5 points apiece.

  • the Bible Knowledge Questions are based on six previously selected books of the Bible, the Bible Bee Quiz Cards and the Bee-liever’s Handbook. These study materials are produced by the organizers of the Bee and are available from their website.
  • the Bible Memory Questions are substantive inquiries about Bible passages previously identified for contestants to memorize beforehand.

Oral Test

The oral round consists of 12 minutes for each contest to answer multiple questions, including both Bible Memory Questions (recitation format) and Bible Knowledge Questions (multiple-choice format). After a judge states the question, each contestant has 15 seconds to respond.

  • for the Bible Memory Questions, contestants identify the citation to the passage before and after recitation. Any of the five accepted versions may be used. Points are deducted for any words that "are omitted, inserted, or erroneous, and for words/phrases that contain the correct words but in the wrong order."
  • for the Bible Knowledge Questions, 10 points are awarded for each correct answer and there is no partial credit.
  • there are Bonus Questions worth up to 20 points for contestants who "complete all Oral Round Questions with complete accuracy within their allotted twelve minutes, ... [with] the same evaluation process as regular Bible Memory and Bible Knowledge Questions."