Note: The 2023 Olympiad Syllabus, including descriptions and content distribution for all buzzer-based and exam competitions, will be available in Spring 2023.
All students attending the 2023 International History Olympiad will be required to compete in the Written Exam. The prompts will cover time periods from ancient to modern history, various regions of the world, and different historical themes, including politics, society and culture, religion, economics and geography. Some questions will focus on a single region or country, while others may cover multiple regions or countries but have a single theme or focus.
For the Elementary and Middle School divisions, the exam will consist of 8 short answer questions. Elementary students will answer any 4 of these questions and Middle School students will answer 5. All Elementary and Middle School division students will have 80 minutes to complete the Written Exam.
The Varsity and Junior Varsity exam will consist of 8 short answer questions and 2 long essay questions. Junior Varsity students will choose 5 short answer questions plus 1 long essay, while Varsity students will write 6 short answer questions and 1 long essay. All Varsity and Junior Varsity students will have 90 minutes to complete the Written Exam.
The Hextathlon (sometimes spelled Hexathlon; both versions are considered correct) is a collaborative team event where team members will work together to come up with correct answers on six different quiz sections:
- Crossword Puzzle Quiz
- 4-3-2-1 Quiz (This is new for 2023). Teams will hear questions audibly and have the chance to submit an answer off a difficult clue for 4 points, a moderate clue for 3 points, an easy clue for 2 points, or with multiple-choice options given for 1 point. Clues will be read in 4-3-2-1 order, with teams having an opportunity to submit an answer before the next clue is read. Teams can only submit one answer per question, however (i.e. you cannot submit an answer after each clue, or go back and change your answer upon hearing a later clue)
- Multiple Choice Quiz
- Map Quiz
- Audio Quiz
- Picture Quiz
There will be a limited amount of time for each section of the Hextathlon (approximately 15 minutes each), and each quiz will be worth the same amount in the overall score.
Historiography Exam (Varsity & Junior Varsity divisions only)
At the 2023 International History Olympiad, all Varsity and Junior Varsity students will compete in the Historiography competition. This event is designed to test students’ abilities to analyze historical documents, other primary sources, and secondary sources to answer research questions. Students looking to prepare for this event are advised to look over the 2022 Historiography Examination, its grading rubric, and be familiar with Document Based Questions, which are found on certain history Advanced Placement Exams. The rules for the 2023 International History Olympiad Historiography Examination will be identical to those used in 2022.
At the International History Olympiad, interested students will have a chance to simulate a historical event in a dynamic competition that reimagines how history could have played out differently. Students will be assigned a character in advance, and will need to act out that character’s point of view in a “crisis simulation” in which the events unfold. However, the simulation is dynamic: meaning that depending on what decisions are made within the committee, history may unfold somewhat differently than it did. The topic for the 2023 Simulation will be announced in Spring 2023, but it will have a focus on Ancient Rome. Past topics have included the Boxer Rebellion (2015), Potsdam Conference (2018) and the conquests of Alexander the Great (2022).
Note that the final round of the Historical Simulation will be contested in the Roman Forum (togas will be optional, but encouraged).
Knockout is a competition unique to the Olympiad and the International Geography Championships. Up to 10 players sit or stand in a circle. One player begins, and then selects another player – that player then has to answer a question correctly. If they don’t, they get a strike. If they answer correctly, then they get the chance to pick the next player. If you get three strikes, then you’re out! The top players move on to additional rounds. At the end of the rounds, the last players to get knocked out receive bronze and silver medals, and the sole survivor is the gold medalist.
* Olympiad trivia note – The idea for this event comes from Jeder Gegen Jeden (translation: Each Against Everyone) – a German language TV quiz show. If you’re interested in seeing an episode of Jeder Gegen Jeden, click here. Even if you don’t speak German, you can probably get the gist of the show – and if you listen carefully, you may even be able to figure out a few of the questions and answers.
Symposium (Varsity & Junior Varsity divisions only)
The Symposium will have three components. First, students will write a 2000-3500 word research paper on a topic of their choice in Roman History. The research paper must be entirely original, though it is permitted for students to submit a relevant paper that they have previously written as part of their academic studies in school or homeschooling. Papers must be formatted to include proper footnotes and a bibliography and should include a wide variety of sources. Any evidence of plagiarism will lead to immediate disqualification.
Students’ papers will be due prior to the start of the Olympiad, and will be read by Olympiad staff. The top students will then be subject to an oral examination by their readers. Those who pass the oral examination will take part in the Symposium with historians, teachers, and academics (who will have read students’ papers in advance). The Symposium will consist of a final defense of the paper. The top three students in each age division, as selected by the readers and examiners will win the gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Note: You are welcome to use whichever citation format you prefer, although you must cite sources. Footnotes are preferred over endnotes, if you are using footnotes. You are also welcome to use MLA format (whereby, you would just indicate the author’s name [and work if citing more than one source by the same author] in parentheses, followed by the relevant page number). For all papers, a bibliography must be included, and a wide variety of sources (especially primary sources) is encouraged.
The winning Symposium paper from the 2022 International History Olympiad is attached here for reference as to what an example of a Gold Medal paper looks like: Iraq’s Forgotten Period by Ameer Sadi