Competition Procedures FAQs

How are competition dates selected?
Dates are chosen based on the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut academic calendars. Once tentative dates are selected, they are circulated to last year’s High School advisors for comment. Based on this feedback, the New York Fed staff sets the dates, notifies last year’s advisors by e-mail and posts the schedule on the Fed’s public website.

How many competition dates are there?
There are two preliminary competition days and one semi-final/final day.  The semi-final and final competitions are held on one day, with the semi-final round taking place in the morning and the finals in the afternoon.

What are brackets?
A bracket is a group of teams that compete against each other in a competition round.  All the teams in a bracket face the same judges and compete in the same room.  The winner of each bracket moves on to the next round of competition.  The preliminary round of the Fed Challenge can include as many as 15 brackets (14 in NYC, 1 in Western New York), each with six teams.  The semi-final round has 5 brackets, each with 3 teams. Five teams compete in the final round.

How are teams assigned to brackets and preliminary competition dates?
Teams are assigned at random to brackets and to one of the two preliminary competition dates.  Under extenuating circumstances, the New York Fed may assign a team to compete on a specific preliminary date. This accommodation, however, is not guaranteed.

Who are the competition judges and how are they assigned to brackets?
Judges consist of New York Fed economists and staff who are experts on economics and monetary policy, teachers and professors, and other economics experts from government and private sector.  To assign judges to brackets, we first create judging teams of two or three judges based on their expertise and so that at least one judge in the team has prior experience judging the competition.  Then, judging teams are assigned at random to the brackets.

What happens if a judge knows one of the team participants or can identify the team?
Although we make every effort to keep team identities secret (and teams that identify their school have points deducted from their score), sometimes a judge realizes in the midst of competition that he or she knows the team or students.

The HS Fed Challenge handles this through an honor system.  Judges are on their honor to judge fairly and impartially. If a judge believes he/she cannot be impartial, this is reported to the head judge as soon as possible. The head judge makes the final decision; the judge with the conflict can either continue if he/she can be impartial; otherwise leave the room. The head judge may choose to consult Fed Challenge staff but his/her decision is final. The head judge will announce that the departing judge will not be participating further.