Grace Rembert, a high school senior from Bozeman, Mont., qualified three times for the GeoBee national championship and finished fourth overall in 2016. In this installment of “Five Questions With a GeoBee Champion,” she reflects on her experience and offers some tried-and-true study tips. Edited excerpts of our conversation follow.
Q: What’s one memorable moment from your time at nationals?
Grace Rembert (GR): In my final year in the GeoBee, my most memorable moment was when I answered all of my preliminary-round questions correctly and I knew I was going to be in the top 10. I think I was crying in the preliminary-round room because I was so excited.
Q: What was your study process like in the run-up to nationals?
GR: I really believe writing things down helps you remember them a lot better than even typing them out. I still have thousands of index cards with facts compiled on them. I would go through quiz books and the atlas. That sounds really intense, but I would just write down facts I didn’t know. After participating in the GeoBee for a while, you have a sense for what kind of questions they’re going to ask, what kind of topics are most common, and how detailed you need to be in studying.
Q: What other advice would you give a student competing in the GeoBee this year?
GR: I think the most important thing is to not get flustered or give up if you miss a question that seems easy. I remember missing the very first question at the state GeoBee in seventh grade, and I was so stressed out. But then I answered the rest of the questions correctly, made it to the tiebreakers, and ended up winning. Even if you mess something up, just try to stay calm, because you can always recover.
Q: Do you have academic or career goals in mind at this point?
GR: I want to play the violin professionally. It’s not directly related to geography, but music is connected in that it brings together many different cultures and pulls together people from all different walks of life. There’s also a large travel component to playing any kind of instrument professionally.
Q: Do you have any special advice for girls looking to succeed in the GeoBee?
GR: I would say don’t ever let gender get in the way of your competitive success. If you want to do well in the GeoBee, then nothing should stop you.
Check back in the new year for the fourth installment in “Five Questions With a GeoBee Champion,” in which we speak with 2019 New Jersey state champion Matthew McDonald.
Registration for the 2019-2020 GeoBee is open through Jan. 24, 2020. Title I schools are eligible for a discount on GeoBee registration. Go to NatGeoBee.org to learn more.