Q: What is Academic Masters?

The Academic Masters Competition was created in 1983 when a group of Grants Pass businesspeople approached the school districts and proposed a contest highlighting and promoting academics and music, similar to athletic contests. The first competition was in spring of 1984 and included five schools: Grants Pass, Hidden Valley, Illinois Valley, North Valley and Rogue River High Schools. The Competition features separate contests in English, Social Studies, Mathematics, Science and Music. Each high school is represented by their top student in each field. The four continuing schools therefore each send five students (one per subject) to the final public event. Student compete in first a written exam at Rogue Community College and then in an oral performance before an audience. Finalists compete not only for the honor of winning but for cash prizes contributed by the community. Academic Masters is now over thirty years old and exists to give academics some of the glamour often reserved for athletics.

Who is eligible to compete in Academic Masters?

Any student enrolled in any of the four public high schools in Josephine County (Grants Pass HS, Hidden Valley HS, Illinois Valley HS, or North Valley HS) can compete at his/her school.

Do you have to be a senior to compete?

Absolutely not! We have students who have won the competition as juniors and sophomores and freshmen are also eligible to compete.

How does a student get involved?

Pay attention to the announcements at your school. Each school schedules written exams — usually in early March — that are open to all interested students. The students with the highest scores on the written exams go on to compete as semi-finalists in the oral portion of the contest.

Can you take tests in more than one of the subject areas?

Yes, you can take one, several or all five of the written exams. Most schools will also allow you to compete as a semi-finalist in more than one subject. Finalists however can only compete in a single subject.

What's the difference between a semi-finalist and a finalist?

A semi-finalist is one of the top three or four scores at his or her school. The semi-final competition is a public event at the school. At the semi-finals, the five finalists (one in each subject area) will be chosen. Finalists compete against the finalists from the other schools. Finalists also take a written exam and compete in an oral portion in front of an audience.

What are the prizes for winning?

There are multiple prizes, all of them cash awards (not scholarships). All semi-finalists who do not become finalists receive $25.00. Finalists win cash awards ranging from $1200.00 for first place to $300.00 for fourth place.

Where does the money come from?

All of the prize money is raised locally from generous donors, including school district employees, former competitors, local businesses, and local families. The Academic Masters Foundation raises funds for the competition. Please consider joining our group of community supporters with a donation to show your support for academic excellence in Josephine County.

What is the written competition like?

Each school writes its own initial test to select semi-finalists. The final written exam is prepared by Rogue Community College instructors to measure the breadth and depth of competitors’ knowledge in the subject areas. Several of the exams include essays as well as objective questions. Written exams are scored by RCC instructors and the scores are not divulged to competitors or schools. Areas covered include any or all of the following: Science: Scientific Process, Science History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy or Oceanography, Environmental Science, Current Issues in Science Social Studies: Historical Methods, U.S. History, World History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Psychology or Sociology. Mathematics: A range of mathematical skills and knowledge including algebra, statistics, trigonometry and calculus. English: Literature, Composition, Poetry, Writers, Language, Vocabulary, Grammar (Note: at the written competition, English finalists are given a novel to read prior to the oral competition.) Music: Music History, Music Theory, Great Composers, Musical Notation

What is the written competition like?

What is the oral exam like?

Finalists see the oral questions for the first time 30 minutes before having to speak. Sometimes there are multiple questions to choose from; sometimes only a single question. Finalists are not allowed to have cell phones or other electronic devices in the preparation room. Paper, pencil or pen and a dictionary and/or thesaurus are usually permitted. After 30 minutes of preparation, the student is introduced, walks to the stage and has 5 minutes to give his/her response. Clear explanations or illustrations for the audience are appreciated. RCC instructors form the panel of judges.

Can anyone attend the semi-final and final competitions?

Semi-final competitions are usually open to the public (and are free) but contact the specific high school office for information and times. Final competitions are always open to the public free of charge. It is an inspiring evening you will enjoy! Younger students who might aspire to become Academic Masters in high school are especially encouraged to attend.

How can I keep up-to-date with Academic Masters throughout the year?

Academic Masters will post news at this website and also at our Facebook page. Please “like” us on Facebook to receive updates.