Top of the Bench

Preliminary Rounds


Preliminary Round 2023

What has changed?

Previously, schools (~30) would apply via e-mail to Trevor Birt, requesting preliminary questions which were completed under exam conditions and returned (~25) for marking. Of these, the top 6-10 would be invited to our Regional Final. Last year we held parallel quizzes and lab practical sessions jointly at the University of Birmingham and Coventry University. The top scoring teams were then invited to our regional final.

Why change?

  • To ensure the ‘exam conditions’ are consistent for all schools
  • To increase the scope and engagement of schools
  • To make the ‘preliminary’ a fun day!


This year, the 2023 preliminary round will be held in parallel at the University of Birmingham, Coventry University and Wolverhampton University  on Saturday 18th November 2023.  The top scoring schools from this round will then be invited to the Regional Final. The Birmingham & West Midlands Local section Regional Final will be held on a Saturday in January 2024 (tbd).

How do I enter my students?

A team has to be made up of two Year 9 students, one Year 10 student and one Year 11 student. Where possible students who have taken part in previous years should not be included. To Register your school for this year’s Preliminary Round please complete the registration form below:

Register your school team ...
Lead Teacher's Name*
Preferred Venue
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Team information ...

Each team should be made up of the following:

  • 2 students from year 9
  • 1 student from year 10
  • 1 student from year 11

Each school can enter up to TWO teams.

The Preliminary Event comprises 10 Rounds of Quizzes.

For the first 9 rounds, the ‘team’ divides into two with the two Yr9 students working as a pair and the Yr10 & Yr11 student working as a pair. For each of these initial 9 rounds, each ‘pair’ of students works together (but without consulting anyone else) to answer a given question sheet of 10 questions within a given time. There is a different set of questions for the Yr9 pair and the Yr10/11 pair.  For the final 10th round, all four members of the team join together to answer collaboratively a ‘team’ set of questions.

Scores from both pairs for the first nine rounds are added to the final round ten ‘team’ score to provide the school’s total score for comparison.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.

What to bring ...

Each team member needs to bring:

  • Pens, pencils and rubber
  • Calculator
  • Ruler

Complimentary refreshments will be provided in the CTL Building.

Programme ...

Programme of events

Time Activity Location
1000 – 1100 Arrival and refreshments CTL Foyer/Cafe
1100 – 1230 Written Paper Quiz I CTL Upper Floor
1230 – 1430 Written Paper Quiz II CTL Upper Floor
1430 Final Remarks and Dismissal CTL Cafe area

CTL – Collaborative Teaching Laboratory


Location ...

Competing Schools ...

For a flavour of what to expect – have a look at pictures and information from a previous event …

Top of the Bench


Top of the Bench

Preliminary Round

Top of the Bench

Regional Final