Prepare for a Competition

Get prepared

Process Papers and Bibliographies: Required materials for History Day entries

Rules: Be sure to review the general and category-specific rules in the NHD Contest Rule Book. Spanish version available here.


Judging process

Nervous about the contest? You're not alone! Most students are nervous. In reality, however, you've already done the hard work of creating a project. Look forward to your interview as a chance to discuss your project with the judges. Judges are volunteers interested in learning more about the process you went through to create your project and what you've learned about your topic. They aren't there to quiz or scare you!

Sample Questions (PDF): Take a look at the same sample questions we hand out to judges!

Event-specific information

Schedules and Event Information: Visit either the Regional or State History Day event pages. Look for your specific event for directions, maps, and schedules.
Allotments and Regional Assignments: For teachers. Learn more about how many entries your school is allowed to send to a Regional contest and email Sammi Jo to ask which Regional your school should attend.


Regional Contests: Contact the event coordinator, listed under each Regional 
Research Papers: Contact Sammi Jo Papas ( 
State History Day: Contact Sammi Jo Papas ( 
National Contest: Contact Sammi Jo Papas (


Competition FAQ

When is my school competition?

Teachers should determine when their school will host a competition, or a showcase night. You should check with your teacher to find out when the date for your school is.

How can I get on the mailing list for Regional contest information?

Teachers should enroll with Minnesota History Day through our online form. We will send you important mailings, both in print and email, throughout the year related to the competition.

Which Regional does my school attend?

Regional assignments are made primarily on geography. Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools must attend their respective district-sponsored contest. Contact Sammi Jo ( to find out which contest your school will attend.

What if my school has a conflict with our Regional date?

To build the culture of a Regional event, History Day tries to keep the same schools at a contest from year to year. Schools are permitted to switch Regional contests on a temporary basis with the permission of the Minnesota History Day office. Schools must have an unavoidable conflict that would keep the majority of students from participating in the Regional contest, e.g. a band concert, school play, etc. The change would be for one year only and all students must attend the same Regional. To ensure fairness, schools are not permitted to split their entries between Regional events. Schools in the Minneapolis and St. Paul Public School districts are not permitted to switch Regionals.

How many entries can my school send to a Regional competition?

In January, each participating school is required to fill out a participation survey. The lead teacher from each school fills out one survey for the entire school, listing the total number of students completing projects in each of the five categories. When History Day staff receives all school surveys, each school is assigned to a certain number of projects it may bring to its particular Regional event. Assignments are made on a proportional allotment basis; schools with larger participation are allowed to enter more students into the Regional competitions. Watch our video or contact Sammi Jo ( to learn more.

My school doesn't do History Day. How can I enter a Regional contest?

We're happy to have you join us! You should contact any one of the Minnesota History Day staff members and let us know you're interested. We will make sure that you are on our mailing list for important information.

In general, we will recommend that any student working independently in a school that is NOT participating in History Day talk to one of their Social Studies teachers about serving as an adviser. History Day can be a lot of work and it's great when the school adviser can offer extra credit, guidance on project development, or help make sure that forms are turned in on time. If no teacher is willing to serve in this role, a parent is also able to serve as an adviser.

I didn't advance from my school-level competition. Can I enter independently at a Regional event?

No. If you are participating in History Day through your school and did not advance to the Regional level through your school-level contest, you are NOT permitted to enter at another Regional contest on your own. Please contact Sammi Jo Papas ( with questions.

Who is responsible for submitting registration forms and/or paying fees?

Registration is done through our online competition manager, Z-Fairs. Students and parents should register themselves for the event and talk to your teacher about who is responsible for the contest fees.

When are registration forms due?

Registration forms are always due two weeks before an event. To find your particular deadline, check out our competitions page and find your event.

What should I bring to the Regional and State competitions?

You should bring your project, props and costumes if applicable, and four copies of both your process paper and bibliography. Website students should bring a tablet or laptop, but do NOT need to bring four paper copies of their process paper and bibliographies. These materials should be included on their website.

What is there to do at the Regional competition?

Once you are finished with the judging process, you have no obligations until the awards ceremony (which is also optional). We suggest bringing something to keep you busy such as homework, a book, or games. We also encourage you to support your classmates by watching Performances or Documentaries, or explore students projects from other schools. You could also leave the event for dinner or another obligation and come back for the awards ceremony.

What kinds of questions will the judges ask me?

The judges will ask you questions that allow you to showcase your knowledge of your topic. They will not "quiz" you or make you feel like you didn't do enough research. Typical questions include "How did you choose your topic?", "What kinds of sources did you use?", "How does your topic fit this year's theme?" Remember, the judges are just there to learn about your project, and you are the expert!

How many projects move on to State History Day?

The number of projects that advance to State depend on how much space is available at the University of Minnesota, where the competition is held. From there, we divide up the numbers among all the Regional events throughout the state and come up with how many can advance. This usually means that the numbers vary per category.

My partner can't come to the Regional event. Is that a problem?

If you created a group Exhibit, Documentary, or Website, it is okay that you are the only member to represent your group. You would not be disqualified if your group member(s) could not attend. If you are in a Performance with other students, it is up to you to decide if the Performance can be given without the other group member.

How many students advance to Nationals?

The top two projects in every category are eligible to attend the National Contest in June at the University of Maryland College Park. This typically means around 60 students attend. The means the top .002% in the state qualify!

What if I can't be at the awards ceremony?

No problem! Make sure to check on the website to see if you advance in the competition, and contact the appropriate staffer to receive paperwork afterwards. A teacher can also collect materials at the awards ceremony for you.

How does Final-Round judging work at State?

Because we want to give all students the best chance possible, we run the Final-Round of judging in a very specific way. Judges in the First-Round rank their top three projects. These students are then placed into "Primary Run-Off's" (all of the first place entries in the First-Round), "Second Place Run-Off's" (all of the second place entries in the First-Round), and "Third Place Run-Off's" (all of the third place entries in the First-Round). From there, our Final-Round judges review the projects in their room. In the Third Place Run-Off room, the judges see all of the projects and choose their TOP entry to send up to the Primary room, this project is then judged AGAIN. The Second Place Run-Off room does the same thing, but the judges choose their top TWO entries and send them up to the Primary room to be judged again. This means that the Primary room then has three additional projects to view at the end. Those judges then make the final decision on which projects advance to Nationals. Be sure to check out your State program and look for signs posted to remind yourself of the process at State.

Why don't Paper entries get judged at a Regional competition?

Due to the volume of entries and time it takes to properly review and judge them, Paper entries are judged "off-site." Entries are sent to the History Center where they are sent out to judges who have around two weeks to judge a set of entries and decide with their judge partner which entries will advance to the next round of competition. For more information, visit the Papers page.

Why do Website entries get locked out of making changes before the Regional and State competitions?

You can still make changes, but you need to be done with them in advance of each event. Since Websites take a longer time to view, judges are given the student URLs in advance of the competition. The Websites are then viewed in their entirety in advance. Students can highlight specific parts of their Website during their interview at the competition depending on the questions the judges ask. We want the Website to look the same for both judges viewing the project, so we lock students out during the review period to prevent changes.

Whoops, I forgot to pay! Can I pay for my child's entry fee at the Regional or State competitions?

No. We cannot accept payment at event. You will need to talk to your student's school or teacher.

Can I watch other entries at the competitions?

Yes! All categories are open to the public. Please remember to silence your cell phones, and remain quiet while watching Performances and Documentaries.