The 29th edition of the National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) kick-started Monday morning with the preliminary contests by schools that made it to the nationals via the regional qualifiers.

The cheers, bragging, trolls, tears, expected outcomes, upsets and all the frenzy that greet the Primetime TV show are live on your screens on JoyNews.

The three-week-long competition is partitioned into five stages and features schools from all the NSMQ zonal regions across the country.

As the contests begin, here are five facts to help you accustomed to the award-winning show.

1. Structure of the competition

The competition begins from the prelims where 117 schools who battled through regional qualifiers will feature. Three schools face one another in each of the 39 contests and the winner gets a guaranteed spot in the one-eighth (1/8) stage of the competition.

All hope is not lost for the two losers just yet. The losing schools have a lifeline because, at the end of the prelims, the 18 highest-scoring losers will also make it through to the 1/8 stage.

Then, it gets interesting. The one-eighth stage begins the single elimination rounds where you pack your bag and baggage if you lose.

NSMQ John's Grammar

Here, 27 other schools who earned a seeded spot for having qualified to the quarterfinal of the 2021 edition, will join this year’s schools who qualified from the prelims.

There are 27 contests, one-seeded school, one prelim winner and one losing but high-scoring school from the prelims face-off. The winner advances and is seeded for next year’s competition.

The single elimination continues until the grand finale.

2. Past Winners

Only 11 schools have won the competition since its inception in 1994 – Presec Legon having the lion’s share with six trophies out of 10 finals.

The NSMQ is back, 5 facts to know as prelims kick start

They are closely followed by the defending champions Prempeh College who have five trophies.

The NSMQ is back, 5 facts to know as prelims kick start

St. Peter’s SHS have three trophies to their credit. Opoku Ware School, Achimota School, Mfantsipim School and St. Augustine’s College all brag about two trophies apiece.

The NSMQ is back, 5 facts to know as prelims kick start
St. Augustine College, 2019 winners

Adisadel College, Ghana Secondary and Technical School, St. Thomas Aquinas SHS and Pope John Seminary and SHS have a trophy each.

This means schools from only five of the 16 regions have won the coveted trophy. They are; Greater Accra Region, Central Region, Western Region, Eastern Region and Ashanti Region.

3. Disappointed big schools

Despite their high profile status, the underlisted schools have failed to grab the trophy in the 29 years that the NMSQ has been organised.

Wesley Girls SHS in the Central Region with all their prowess have failed to make it count, recording only one grand finale appearance in 1999.

Bishop Herman College has also failed to make its high-profiled status count. The Volta giants have been a disappointment on the big stage, repeatedly failing to progress past the one-eighth stage of the competition.

With the title of the reigning Volta-Oti Zonal Champions – unseating last year’s winners, Ketasco – perhaps the all-boys catholic school is ready to redefine its NSMQ brand and toe Ketasco’s steps to make it to the final.

NSMQ semi finals Augustine

Their regional rivals, Mawuli School, has been another disappointment, also failing to make the grand finale despite multiple appearances in the semifinal.

Keta SHTS, the only school from the Volta Region to appear in the grand finale, cannot boast of a win as well.

Aburi Girls SHS in the Eastern region has failed to impress as well. St. Francis Xavier Junior Seminary and SHS from Upper West Region have not won the contest before despite many impressive runs.

Their northern rivals, Tamale SHS, from the Northern Region have also failed to win the competition.

4. No girls’ school has ever won the trophy

With one year shy of its 30th anniversary, the NSMQ is yet to crown a champion that is an all-girls institution. Wesley Girls failed to make it count in 1999 as earlier stated.

The NSMQ is back, 5 facts to know as prelims kick start
Source: NSMQ Ghana

With the competition starting Monday, October 10, 2022, here are a number of girls’ schools that stand a chance at changing the narrative. Wesley Girls SHS, Archbishop Porter Girls SHS and Aburi Girls SHS.

5. Experience and substitutions matter

Previously, substitutions were used when the contestants on stage were having a bad day. But in 2019, St Augustine’s College came from the prelims to stun everyone and win the contest.

They deployed strategic substitutions to proceed to the grand finale and eventually win the competition with the name of the substitute, Newton, on the lips of all NSMQ fans.

He was brought in at Round Four (True or False section) and aced all the questions and displayed dominance in the final round when speed in thinking was once again needed to get victory over the line.

Since then, most schools including Ketasco, Presec Legon, St Peter’s and others have resorted to using strategic substitutes at different stages of the contest.

The NSMQ is back, 5 facts to know as prelims kick start
Credit: @NSMQGhana via Twitter

Experience also counts as proven by West Africa SHS in 2018 where they repeated their contestants from the previous year and caused multiple upsets up until the final where St. Peter’s stopped them.

It worked for Tamale SHS as well, who upset Achimota School in 2019 and this year, a number of schools, including Bishop Herman College, have adopted the tactic – as to whether it will work, time will tell.