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Updated: Dec 12, 2019

This post, as you might've already guessed, is on


which is a really cool community I am part of :)

The World Scholar's Cup is a competition I joined in Year 8 and continued through to Year 10; this year (Year 11) however, I am not allowed to attend for my vigorous IGCSEs will also take place around the same time, which whilst being quite discouraging, introduced me to Model United Nations, another activity I commit to (I'll tell you all about it in another post).

The hardest question when it comes to talking about the World Scholar's Cup is actually describing what it is! After struggling for a long period, Nae Nae (my sister who is one year younger than me and also participating in the World Scholar's Cup) told me about a conversation she accidentally overheard and I think it is a pretty good explanation so I'll just paraphrase it here:

"The World Scholar's Cup is an academic competition where students study items under six subjects, most of which are out of the school syllabus, all related to the theme for that year. In the competition, the students debate, answer multiple choice questions, play a team gameshow type quiz and write about those topics."

So that is basically it!

To illustrate what that meant, take the most recent competition as an example...

The theme for 2015 is "The World Unbound" and the subjects chosen for this year are:

Art and Music: Peering Over the Edge

Special Area: Heroes and Superheroes

Science: Liberating Technologies

History: Movement Towards Freedom

Literature: Voices of the Unbound

Social Studies: Worlds Held Together, Worlds Torn Apart

As you can see, different subjects have different titles; these link the contents in it together. There are also subtitles for each section within the subjects which contribute to the chain, or rather a network of information.

Here's a sneak peek of the subjects (aka examples of stuff we have to study)

Art and Music:

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living | Damien Hirst

Star Wars Main Theme | John Williams

Special Area:

The Comics Code Authority

Selected Film: The Dark Knight


Question to Consider: Have Wikipedia and other online sources freed us from the elite management of knowledge?

The Walking Alive: Prosthetics & New Techniques for Defeating Paralysis


Movements in the New Millennium: The Saffron Revolution, the Color Revolutions & the Arab Spring

Slavery and Emancipation


All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace | Richard Brautigan

Kid | Simon Armitage

Social Studies:

Obstacles to Intercultural Communication and Collaboration

Simulations, Simulacra, and Hyper-Reality


I know this seems a lot, but trust me - they give you so much more to study - too much to condense in during a few months time, and this is where your teams come into play :3

By the way, at this point, I am quite tired of having to type "World Scholar's Cup" every single time so I will now abbreviate it as "WSC". In case you were wondering why I am telling you this, I actually got confused when I first saw it in the Scholar's Challenge and spent a really long time trying to work out what it was (how embarrassing -3-)! And just in case you were wondering, again, the Scholar's Challenge is an event in the competition, I will talk about it in more detail later.

WSC is a competition between teams of three but also recognise achievements individually. In our teams, we discuss the topics and form a strong team bondage as a result of intense revision sessions. Teams are also there so that we can actually compete as teams: this includes the Team Debate and the Scholar's Bowl.

As mentioned before, the WSC has four events which contribute to the consolidation of the final scores. The order these events come in depends on the logistics of that particular round but they all come after the Opening Ceremony, of course, and before the Debate Showcase, Scholar's Show and the Closing/Award Ceremony (again, of course).

The Opening Ceremony of the WSC is usually held in an auditorium. This acts as the base for the troops of scholars during the entire competition. Just for the fun of knowing, the ceremony starts with an introduction to Jerry 2.0 (the 2.0 version of the original Jerry, the alpaca) by one of the staffs or, if we are fortunate enough, Daniel Berdichevsky, founder of the WSC and Alpaca-in-chief.

The events afterwards are allocated differently, depending on which division you are in: Junior (14 and below) or Senior (15 and above). These events are Team Debate, Scholar's Challenge, Scholar's Bowl and Collaborative Writing.

Team Debate

This event proves to be a highlight amongst the keen speakers and a great practice for those seeking to develop the essential public speaking skills. (Why do I sound so serious?) The debate motion revolves around the topics we studied and often, will be a hybrid between them. Each team will debate for a total of three times, regardless of whether they win or lose; the key aim here is to get us to practice :) 

The debate structure goes like this: the adjudicator announces the motion, teams have 15 minutes to prepare arguments and speeches, first speaker from the affirmative team speaks for a maximum of four minutes, one minute for teams to discuss, the first speaker from the negative team speaks for a maximum of four minutes, one minute for teams to discuss... the last four procedures repeat until all of the members of each team has spoken. The debate then ends with a 90s long feedback from each team to help the opposing team improve - the winning team is then announced.

I think the Team Debate is a great event since we get to make new friends i.e. temporary enemies, and also get an immediate chance to improve on our flaws as we debate three times in a row (with different opponents each time, depending on whether we win or lose).

Scholar's Challenge

The Scholar's Challenge is just about as individual as the WSC gets. By the looks of it, the Challenge is just a regular multiple choice test with 20 questions per subject, making a cumulative total of 120 questions, and five choices to choose from for each question. It used to be that way but fortunately enough, the policies had only recently to a bizarrely creative system where scholars can choose...

one of the answers and get a point if it is correct,

two and get half a point if one of them are correct,

three and get a third of a point if one of them are correct,

four and get a quarter of a point if one of them are correct,

or even all five and get a fifth of a point if one of them are correct!

The Scholar's Challenge, as its name suggests, it extremely challenging. The following is a sample question from the 2014 Global Round in Singapore:

Which of the following situations BEST demonstrates the Nash Equilibrium?

a.) Airlines settle on similar prices after a period of trial-and-error.

b.) If you flip a coin enough times, eventually heads will come up half the time.

c.) Two vampires decide they want to date the same woman, who wants to date both of them.

d.) Some split a pizza, each eating two pieces.

e.) Two risk averse individuals decide together to do something risky.

I think the Scholar's Challenge triggers us to extend our bounds of knowledge, as we would all be examined on every subject, and also to consider information in relation to others for many of the questions link between subjects.

Scholar's Bowl

The Scholar's Bowl, much like the Scholar's Challenge, is a multiple choice quiz, however, it is played in the auditorium in teams - a WSC version of a game show. Teams will receive a clicker each and receive special training on how to treat them, including a pledge to not eat their clicker! It is also a tradition to test that the clickers work with a round of 'Hot or Not', typically a competition between the hotness of two alpacas and a question on who would survive the 'Alpacalypse'. At this point, you must be wondering why I mention alpacas so much - the answer lies towards the end of this post... so please bear with me :3

The questions in this round are similar to the questions in the Scholar's Challenge with the addition of increasing points per round (e.g. Round 1 for 100 points, Round 2 for 200 points), a 30s time limit to discuss and choose and answer, the occasional use of multimedia to support a question, the ultimate T-shirt lightning round and the out-of-the-box BONUS round.

The Ultimate T-shirt lightning round, which I kind of made the name up for since I do not remember the official name (sorry) is a round of five questions where a T-shirt pops up on the screen for each question for only three seconds each. The challenge is usually to determine who, from the choices available, would most likely be wearing this T-shirt. For example, a question we had in the regional round was a picture of a T-shirt with a wheelchair on it, Professor X from X-men was the answer, of course.

The bonus round of the bowl varies according to each round of the year, but one thing they all have in common is the level of superior creativity put into them. One of my favourite bonus rounds is a gamble, you either stop and earn an immediate 1000 points or play on and if you get that question correct, earn 3000 points! We did not get it correct, which undoubtedly, is a shame :(

There is also a break in the middle of this event since it is a relatively long one and guess what: the break is called, "Half-time in Alpacaland". The llama song used to be put on at this point, however, Burch, one of the WSC organizers, recently wrote an alpaca song so now we use that one instead ^^

What I like the most about this amazing round is the fact that they tell you the answers right afterwards so no worries - or maybe, even more worries!

Collaborative Writing

Collaborative Writing is the opportunity to get persuasive without people arguing with you but as scholars would say: "debate with the power of your pen". To make a long story short, it is an event where you and your teammates help each other write three persuasive essays, either agreeing or disagreeing to a statement made based on a subject - each person writes about a different subject.

This event starts with a 30 minutes 'choose the topics, research and brainstorm' session with your teammates. This is then followed by a silent hour where each member writes their own essay. The event finishes with a further 15 minutes to do final checks with your team, but not to let your teammates finish the essay up for you.

I think this event is amazing because it encourages us to expand our ideas on the topic and helps us practice communicating efficiently through words.

Debate Showcase

After all the events, we are always entertained by a Debate Showcase where six top debaters from different schools form two teams of three and a further 10 or so nominated debaters form the panel of judges. This ultra debate, unlike the preceding regular debates, is done on stage in the auditorium, allowing the audience members to also participate and articulate their ideas on the motion afterward - a highlight of the event maybe, second to the fact that these keen debaters never fail to battle with flair and style.

The showcase is followed by a Scholar's Show. This is the WSC kind of talent show but where talents have no boundaries. Yes, talents have no boundaries. I remember on my first WSC tournament someone came up and BuRpEd the AlPhAbEt!

Anyhow, the unmissable part of the WSC is the Closing/Awards Ceremony. The WSC is a celebration of learning and that is what it does. Awards are given out in numerous categories, so much I've even won some!

Here are some highlights of the awards I won ^^ YAYYY!

3rd place History - World Scholars Cup Regional Round 2013

2nd place (Individual) Collaborative Writing - World Scholars Cup Global Round 2014

9th place (Team) Collaborative Writing - World Scholars Cup Global Round 2014

As you can see, there is the Regional Round and the Global Round. There is also a Tournament of Champions round but I never got through to that one T^T At the moment I am writing this post, my sister is competing in the Tournament of Champions. Here is a brief outline of the differences between the three rounds.

Regional Round - the one I attend is the Bangkok round and has all the core events needed for the scoring.

Global Round - this round is only for the people qualified from the Regional Round. It is a gathering of over 2000 scholars from all over the world and has a Scavenger Hunt where we are assigned into teams, away from our friends to meet new ones. The Global Round also has a Scholar's Ball, aka "nerd prom"; this event to me is a rare opportunity. The Scholar's Ball in the Global Round in Singapore was held in Zouk, Singapore's top nightclub, closed for a night to serve orange juice and fizzy drinks to geeks with a double major (biology and music) graduate from Stanford as the DJ. The venue for the Global Round changes every year.

Tournament of Champions - This round is the most prestigious as only the top teams from the Global Round are qualified for it. This round is always held at Yale University in New Haven and has all the key and supplementary entertaining events. This round will determine the champion team for each division that year and also features live alpacas!

Now that the important stuff is over, I will now introduce you to the MORE IMPORTANT stuff that is... The Alpacas. The mascot of the WSC is an alpaca, which won the most votes from the team with the emu coming in second and the penguin coming as third. This is why every effort is made into linking everything in the competition to alpacas. A key phrase to learn if you would like to be part of the WSC community is "Pwaa", the sound an alpaca makes when it is happy.The mascot alpaca is called Jerry and there are several versions of it, like the Jerry 1.0 which got stolen and the Jerry 2.0 which replaced it. If that was not enough, an alpaca plush toy is given to every single scholar in every single round too! This is why the massive stage in the Global Round always somehow find a way of becoming a huge colorful mountain of alpacas. There is also a superstition that putting an alpaca on your head will make you luckier, making it a common sight in the tournament.

On the final note, the World Scholar's Cup is a truly engaging and inspiring community to be in. It is a celebration of learning where intelligence is not as important as the effort put in. It is a gathering of nerds and geeks with a shared passion in finding new knowledge and a network of loving alpacas.

This is a really long blog post, and if you are still here, THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading it :)


For more information go to!

Note: Originally published on Wednesday 11th Nov 2015 via Firefly

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