Reach for the Top

From Academic Kids

Reach for the Top is a Canadian game show in which high school students participate in trivia tournaments. The non-televised tournaments held at high schools throughout Canada during the year are known as Schoolreach; both are commonly referred to simply as "Reach".

The televised Reach for the Top series was first shown on CBC in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1961, based on the BBC series Top Of The Form. The first national Reach for the Top tournament took place in 1965, and was won by the Vincent Massey Collegiate Institute from Etobicoke, Ontario. In 1968 a short-lived Trans-World Top Team series was created by the CBC and BBC, in which teams from the United Kingdom played teams from Canada.

The CBC stopped airing Reach for the Top in 1984, but it continues to be shown on private networks. Currently, the national championship is shown on Canadian Learning Television, hosted by Daniel Richler. The Ontario championships are televised on TVOntario directed by Sidney M. Cohen, and the Alberta championships are broadcast on Access: The Information Station. Local tournaments may air on private television stations, or on cable television community access channels.

In 1985, the Schoolreach program was established. Schoolreach is organized among the different school boards in Canada, and monthly tournaments are played, culminating in a district final each spring. The winner in each district participates in the provincial finals (often, but not always, televised), and the provincial winner competes in the televised national championship.

Some districts also have "Intermediate" level competitions, where the questions are written with a lower level of difficulty to provide experience to new, younger players. Intermediate level champions do not move on to national finals.

Alex Trebek, better known as the host of Jeopardy!, hosted the national championship from 1969 to 1973. Shelagh Rogers, later a host for CBC Radio, was a contestant on the original broadcasts of the show.

CBC revived the format in the program Smart Ask which was cancelled in 2004. From 1973 to 1997 the French language division of the CBC, Société Radio-Canada, aired a program called Génies en herbe, ("Budding Geniuses"), which was the French language equivalent of Reach for the Top. Competitions continued after the cancellation of the program, and teams from other francophone countries around the world often participated.

In Canadian universities, Quiz Bowl is the dominant form of trivia competition, often played by those who participated in Schoolreach and Reach For The Top in high school.



The game is similar to Quiz Bowl, the high school and university trivia game played in the United States, but with some significant differences. Reach questions include "snappers," the same as "tossups" in Quiz Bowl, which can be answered by any of the four players on either team. There are also "Who am I?" or "What am I?" questions and "shootout" questions, also open to any player. "Relay" questions are directed at only one of the teams, and "assigned" questions are directed to a single player. Questions are typically worth ten points, but can be worth up to forty points. Points are not deducted for a wrong answer.

Every game lasts for three rounds, with one minute breaks in between. Each game consists of 96 questions (80 questions in Intermediate games), plus four sudden-death tiebreakers in the case of a tie game after regulation. Contestants may answer a question before the reading of it is completed; however, a correct, anticipated guess does not earn extra points.

The tournament is divided into three different levels. At the regional level, local high school teams compete against each other to determine who goes on to the provincial level. The winners of the provincial championships then go on to the National Reach for the Top tournament. The winner is then declared the national champions.

Types of Questions

  • Snappers

Snappers begin and end every round, and are called "snapstarts" and "snapouts" respectively. They are usually found in sets of four (10 points each, for a total of 40 points); however, at the end of every game, there is a snapout consisting of 8-12 questions.

  • Chain Snappers

Chain snappers are like snappers but each answer is related to the next question.

  • Open Questions

These types of questions are open to both teams. Open questions are found in sets of two, three or four. Each correct answer is worth 10 points.

  • Team Questions

A Team Question is actually a set of questions, worth a possible total of 40 points. When a team question is announced, both teams have an opportunity to answer the first question, called a "scramble". The team that answers the scramble first will have an opportunity to answer the remaining three questions, whereas the opponent will not. In the event that neither team answers the scramble, the remaining questions are open to both teams. However, in some leagues, the team question is forfeited completely.

  • Who/What/Where am I?

The purpose of a Who/What/Where am I? question is to guess a person/thing/place. Clue are provided by the reader, and are read, one at a time. Between clues, both teams have an opportunity to guess the person/thing/place. If both teams provide incorrect guesses, the next clue will be read. This continues until the fourth and final clue is read. If neither team can provide a correct answer, the answer will be revealed, and no points will be awarded.

If a team provides the correct answer after being provided with one clue, that team will earn 40 points. Each subsequent clue reduces the question's value by 10 points.

  • 20-point special

A correct attempt at a 20-point special will earn 20 points.

  • Assigned questions

Assigned questions are found in sets of eight--four questions per team. A question is assigned to each person; if the person cannot answer the question correctly, his/her opponent (sitting directly across from him/her) will have an opportunity to answer. Players may not consult with their teammates when they are assigned a question.

  • Relay questions

Each team is presented with four questions, one team at a time. The first three questions are worth 10 points each, while the last question is worth 20. If a team provides an incorrect answer at any point in the relay, the remaining questions assigned to that team are forfeited.

  • List questions

List questions are open to both teams, and are worth a possible 50 points. The reader will introduce the theme of the question, and ask for five items relating to that theme. For example, if the theme were "Chemical elements", the reader could ask for the first five elements of the periodic table. Teams alternate responses; if one team provides an incorrect response, then the other team shall have an opportunity to name the remaining items in the list.

  • Shootout questions

Shootouts consist of 12 snappers, and are open to both teams. If a participant provides a correct answer, he/she will not be able to answer any further questions in the shootout. A team will be awarded 40 points if they provide four correct answers before their opponents do. This will end the shootout. If neither team provides four correct responses before the end of the shootout, no points are awarded.


Participants must be attending a secondary school in Canada to be eligible for participation in Reach for the Top. The age limit is currently 19.

Notable teams

In 2003, the University of Toronto Schools, based in Toronto, Ontario, became the only school in Reach for the Top history to win back-to-back national titles. In the same year, Marc Lizoain of UTS became one of the most successful students in Reach for the Top history, winning 3 provincial titles and 2 national titles within a span of three years.

In 2004, St. George's School, in Vancouver, British Columbia won the national championships, the first non-Ontario team to do so since 1995 and the first Western Canadian team to win since St. George's last won, in 1991. St. George's captain Adam Goldenberg became the most veteran national finalist ever, competing in five consecutive national tournaments from 2000 to 2004 and capturing a bronze, two silvers, and one gold.

National Champions

Between 1984-85 and 1988-89, no National tournament was held.

See also

External Link


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools