Academic Competition (WSFCS)

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Academic Competition (more commonly called by students ACE, AC, or "A-Team") is a program sponsored by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School District. Academic Competition features high school students from the 10 schools across the county in weekly competition. The program was first created in 1989 to promote a higher level of learning among students as well as provide a means of interaction between the different schools' intellectual elite. Mount Tabor High School won the inaugural competition in 1989, defeating regular season champion R.J. Reynolds High School in the tournament finals.


The rules of Academic Competition, which may seem complex at first, are quite simple to understand. Academic teams are made up of four members. A match consists of five rounds, each with of four sets of questions. The order of the rounds is always the same:

  • English Round, containing questions on classic literature and, occasionally, grammar.
  • Mathematics Round, containing questions covering geometry, algebra, calculus, and statistics.
  • Science Round, containing questions covering biology, anatomy, chemistry, physics, and environmental sciences.
  • Social Studies Round, containing questions covering world history, United States history, minority firsts, United States government, geography, and current events.
  • General Knowledge Round, containing a wide variety of topics including music, current events, religion, art, and North Carolina.

A set of questions begins with a toss-up. This question is read aloud by a designated mediator. If a student thinks that he or she knows the answer to the question, that student can buzz in and state their guess. If the answer is correct, they win five points and get the first directed question. If it is incorrect, and the student buzzed in after the moderator had finished reading the question, then the team is not penalized and the other team has a chance to guess. If neither team gets the answer, then the correct answer is read and a new toss-up question is given. A student can buzz in at any time, even before the moderator has finished reading the question. This is called an interruption. If the interruption is correct, the team earns five points as they would normally. However, if the interruption is incorrect, the team is deducted five points and the other team has a chance to guess.

After a toss-up has been correctly answered, the game moves into the directed phase. Here, students are asked specific questions with either two, three, four, or six parts. The students have thirty seconds to talk to each other before the team captain must give the team's answers. Points are awarded depending upon how many parts of the question were answered correctly. If all parts are correct, twelve points are given. Semi-correct responses are awarded points based on the number of parts. In a two-part question, each part is worth six points (6 + 6 = 12). In a three-part question, each part is worth four points (4 + 4 + 4 = 12). In a four-part question, each part is worth three points (3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12). In a six-part question, each part is worth two points (2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 12). If the team answers no part of the question correctly, no points are awarded. The correct answers for any/all missed parts are then read. Following this, the opposing team has a directed question of their own. The second question is often harder, yet similar in subject. For instance, if the first team was asked a four-part question asking who said four different quotes, the second team would also be asked a four-part question asking for the speakers of quotes, but their quotes might be more obscure. When the second team has finished, the set of questions is over. The process then repeats again with another toss-up question. After four of these sets of questions, the round is over. The match concludes at the end of the General Knowledge round. The winner of the match is the team with the higher total score, which includes the scores from all five rounds. If the teams tie, the match concludes with a "sudden death toss-up" in which the match is won by the first team to buzz in with the correct answer.

There are a few other rules that apply.

  • Substitutions may be made before any toss-up. When a coach announces a substitution, the match pauses as players from the audience exchange places with those in the match, ring in, and give their names (players who start a round do this at the beginning of the round). There is no limit to the number of players that can be swapped. All four, including the captain, are eligible to be replaced. While a substitution can be made before any question in the round, it can only be used once per team per round.
  • Coaches or team captains may challenge the answer of a question if they believe it to be untrue. When a challenge is called, the coaches of both teams discuss the answer with the judge. Reference and text books may be used for the purpose of proving an answer correct/incorrect. If both coaches agree, points may be awarded to the team that they would have normally won. If they can not come to a consensus, play continues and the score remains the same. A team can only challenge a question for which their answer was counted incorrect; teams cannot challenge a question that their opponents were given credit for. Challenges also can only occur immediately after the question. An answer can not be debated after the game has moved on. However, if a previous challenge is denied, the coach may submit a written challenge after the match and provide additional evidence. Should this evidence prove sufficient, the points in question are awarded after the end of the match, even if it changes the outcome of the round or match. Occasionally, this process does change the outcome, such as in West v. Reynolds in 2006 and East v. Tabor in 2004.

The Hanes Mall Cup

The Hanes Mall Cup (center) on display at West Forsyth High School.

The Hanes Mall Cup is the trophy annually awarded to the winners of the Tournament finals. After being awarded, the trophy is given to the victor school to display for a year. It is currently residing at Atkins High School. When the tournament begins again, the team returns it to its home in the WSFCS Career Center. There it awaits for another team to claim it. The following is a list of past winners of the cup.

2006 season

The 2006 Season began on January 4, 2006. The regular season ended March 8. The teams were then given a week off before the tournament began March 20 with the Finals on March 22. The following awards were given at the end of the regular season:

  • First Place English - Mount Tabor
  • First Place Math - West Forsyth
  • First Place Science - West Forsyth
  • First Place Social Studies - R.J. Reynolds
  • First Place General Knowledge - West Forsyth
  • First Place Overall - West Forsyth
  • Second Place Overall - Mount Tabor
  • Third Place Overall - East Forsyth

Below is the bracket from the tournament. Each team's regular season record is listed next to it in parentheses. Template:8TeamBracket Unseeded Teams:

  • Carver High School (1-8)
  • Atkins High School (0-9)

2007 season

The 2007 Season began on January 10, 2007. The regular season ended March 14. The tournament then began on March 19 with the Finals on March 21. The following awards were given at the end of the regular season:

  • First Place English - North Forsyth, R.J. Reynolds, West Forsyth
  • First Place Math - West Forsyth
  • First Place Science - East Forsyth
  • First Place Social Studies - West Forsyth
  • First Place General Knowledge - R.J. Reynolds
  • First Place Overall - R.J. Reynolds, Ronald Reagan, West Forsyth
  • Second Place Overall - East Forsyth
  • Third Place Overall - Mount Tabor

Below is the bracket from the tournament. Each team's regular season record is listed next to it in parentheses. Due to a three-way tie for first place, seeds were drawn randomly for those teams.

Template:8TeamBracket Unseeded Teams:

  • Atkins High School (1-8)
  • Carver High School (0-9)

2013 season

The 2013 season began on February 6, 2013 and ended on March 6, 2013 when R.J. Reynolds defeated four-time champion Ronald Reagan by a narrow margin of just eight points (226-218). The following awards were given at the end of the regular season:

  • First Place English - R.J. Reynolds
  • First Place Math - Mount Tabor
  • First Place Science - Atkins
  • First Place Social Studies - Ronald Reagan
  • First Place General Knowledge - Ronald Reagan


Unseeded Teams:

  • Parkland High School
  • Carver High School

2014 season

The 2014 season began on February 5, 2014 and ended on March 12, 2014 when four-time champion Ronald Reagan defeated the Atkins in the championship game.


Unseeded Teams:

  • Parkland High School
  • Carver High School

External links

Notable Former Academic Team Members