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Wisconsin Civics Games Official Rules


Each regional competition will be held on Feb. 2, 2019, at University of Wisconsin campuses. Registration is from 9 to 9:45 a.m. and will be followed by introductory remarks. The first round will begin at 10 a.m.

The following process will be replicated at the Wisconsin Civics Games championship on Feb. 23, 2019, at the State Capitol in Madison.


Each team has been assigned to one of five geographic regions, with 54 teams scheduled to compete in the 2019 regional competitions.

Teams will compete against one another in head-to-head matches during four rounds. First-round regional opponents have been selected at random.

The highest scoring teams in each match will advance to the next round. In rounds with an odd number of matches, the highest-scoring defeated team from the previous also will advance.

Teams will await competition in a nearby waiting room. Following each matchup, teams that have already competed may join the audience. Advancing teams will be escorted back to the waiting room prior to the beginning of the next round.

The two top-scoring teams will advance to the state competition on Feb. 23.


Each match will consist of a series of questions asked by a judge, with each being worth 10 points. A list of sample questions is available here.

If the score is tied at the end of a match, a tiebreaker question will be read. Tiebreaker questions must be answered by each team’s captain. However, the captains may consult with his/her teammates prior to buzzing.


Three judges and a moderator will oversee each competition. Judges will read the questions, enforce time limits, supervise the clock, determine the accuracy of responses, award points, and otherwise enforce the rules of competition. The moderator will act as host for the Games, assist the judges with any needs during competition and oversee all activities.


Matches will be played with a buzzer system that determines which player has signaled first. Buzzers will be sent by Wisconsin Newspaper Association staff to each tournament moderator.


A team consists of any number of players who meet all eligibility rules. However, no more than four players from each team may actively compete at any one time. Teams may play with a minimum of one player.

No player may play for two different teams in the course of a single competition.

Each team shall designate a captain prior to the beginning of each match. The captain has precedence when answering tiebreaker questions (should that be necessary) and is expected to be the primary student spokesperson for the team.

Teams may substitute team participants in the event of illness or scheduling conflict.


Each match will last 12 minutes, beginning when the judge starts to ask the first question. A judge will be responsible for keeping the official time.

The clock shall not stop, except when a game official needs to adjudicate a procedural protest or other serious problem; to discipline, warn, or eject a player; to replace a question; to acquire replacement or supplemental questions; to repair or replace malfunctioning game equipment; or to address an external issue interfering with gameplay (e.g., hallway noise or a fire alarm).

During a clock stoppage, players and coaches may ask game officials to announce the score, verify the correctness of the score, verify that a buzzer system is working, clarify a rule, or otherwise answer questions pertinent to the competition.


A player may buzz in to answer a question at any point after the judge begins to read the question, but must buzz within 10 seconds of completion of the question being asked. If neither team buzzes in that time, the judge will read the answer and move on to the next question.

The first team to buzz is eligible to respond to the question, and only the player who buzzed may give an answer. Teammates may not engage in verbal or written consultation during each question.

A player who buzzes must begin his/her answer within two seconds of being recognized by the judge. Decisions as to whether players have exceeded allowable time constraints will be made by the judges and are not subject to protest.

If a player signals before the judge finishes reading the question, the judge will stop at that point. If the response given is incorrect, the judge will reread the question for the other team only.

If a player who has not signaled gives a response, that response is disqualified by the judge, and the other team will be given the opportunity to answer. In such case, the judge will not reveal the correct answer before the second team answers. If the judge inadvertently reveals the answer to a question after one team has given an incorrect response, but before the other team has had a chance to answer, the judge will read a replacement question for the second team only.

If the first recognized player’s answer to a question is incorrect, or the two-second time period to begin an answer expires, the judge will, if necessary, reread the question for the other team. The rule on “no consultation” will continue to apply, and the second team may buzz within 2 seconds to answer the question correctly. If the second team’s player gives an incorrect answer, or no player on the second team buzzes, the question goes dead, and the judge will provide the correct answer and move on to the next question.


To receive credit, a response must indicate accurate (correct, precise, unambiguous) knowledge of the answer. To be considered accurate, a response must generally be compatible with every clue in the question.

The judge may ask for additional information (through a prompt such as “I need more specifics”), if an answer is correct but incomplete. For example, a player may answer “Roosevelt,” and the answer sought is “Eleanor Roosevelt.” While titles must typically be exact, last names or commonly used names ( e.g.“Moses” or “Madonna”) may be sufficient.


All players, coaches, institutional representatives, and other persons associated with a team are bound by an honor code to behave responsibly and ethically. This includes, but is not limited to, treating all other participants and staff with courtesy, neither giving nor receiving impermissible assistance, and abiding by all decisions of the Games judges, staff and representatives.

No active players may use reference materials, any electronic devices (such as phones, tablets, or laptops) during gameplay.

The Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation reserves the right to amend rules prior to competition. If any such changes are made, teams will be notified.