The Contest

Our Objective

The main objective of THE BIG CHALLENGE is to promote English language learning in a fun, educational activity. In order for the event to be a success and create real motivation among students, it must rally as many participants as possible.

Who is the contest for?

THE BIG CHALLENGE is intended for students in Dutch secondary schools (Voortgezet onderwijs) between the ages of 10 and 17 (leerjaar 1, 2, 3, and 4) who are learning English. The contest is not open to native English speakers. Nor is it open to bilingual students or students in a bilingual programme (Tweetalig Onderwijs). It is reserved for students whose knowledge of English has been acquired essentially within the Dutch school system. Native English speaking students (or students from TTO’s) who have been registered by mistake will be excluded from regional and national rankings and will not be able to win any of the prizes intended for regional or national winners.

Contest Organisation

In each school, a teacher or school official is designated BIG CHALLENGE COORDINATOR. He or she will be the contact person between contest organisers and other teachers within the school who wish to participate with their students. All of the contest documents as well as the final results and prize parcels will be addressed to the coordinator for all the classes in order to simplify organisation and reduce shipping costs. Schools must register a minimum of 35 participants total, regardless of class level.

Contest Funding

THE BIG CHALLENGE receives no financial aid of any kind and is funded exclusively by fees paid by participating students, that is, 5€ per student or 4.17€ once the VAT has been paid. These fees cover the printing and shipping of the registration kits and posters as well as development costs, maintenance and updates of the technical infrastructure required for the online contest, rental of numerous servers needed to operate the contest, management of the data base containing all the participants by an external provider and especially score calculation and the establishment of three rankings, the purchase, production, delivery and storage of prizes, prize parcel preparation by an external provider and finally, delivery of prize parcels to schools. These fees also finance the development and maintenance of our website as well as the different applications so that students can practise free of charge all year long.The contest fees can be paid by the students themselves, by the school or its authorised body; the fees can also be shared between the school (2.50€ for example) and the students (2.50€). The registration fees must be paid in full at the time of registration and at the latest by the date set as the registration deadline for the current year. This policy is necessary in order to finance the purchase of prizes which will be sent to schools with students’ contest results at the end of May. Once the registration has been made and the fees paid, no cancellations or refunds will be accepted. However, because the prizes have already been purchased, they will be sent to the school for the total number of students registered, whether or not all the students have taken part in the contest. An invoice can be provided upon request.

The Day of the Contest

The Day of the Contest

The next edition of THE BIG CHALLENGE will take place in schools across the Netherlands on 29 March 2018. Students are given a 45-minute session to complete the contest. This session may be scheduled at any time during the day to accommodate teachers’ and school schedules, preferably in the morning. To facilitate organisation, and to adapt to schools’ capacities in terms of computer equipment, several sessions may be scheduled the day of the contest: one session for each level for example. In exceptional cases where the date may prove impossible for the school or for certain classes, a special dispensation may be granted to hold the contest at an earlier date.

The Contest

The test is taken online on a computer or tablet which must be connected to the internet for the duration of the test. It is comprised of 45 multiple-choice questions. For each question, there are four answers proposed. Contestants must select the one and only correct answer. The 45 questions, testing oral and written comprehension, cover vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, conversation situations and civilisation. Each level has its own specific series of questions in order to correspond as closely as possible to school programmes. The test is strictly individual and takes place with no outside assistance or accessory of any kind (book, dictionary…). The test is supervised by a teacher or a member of the teaching staff who guarantees its proper conduct.

Just before the test begins, students must open the contest web page and select their school’s region, city and name. They must then enter their school’s BIG CHALLENGE code which will have been given to the Coordinator a few days earlier. This will give them access to a page where they must then enter their surname, first name, date of birth, class name and tick the box indicating their class level. They may then click on the START button to begin the test. 45 minutes later, they will no longer have access to the contest.


The 45 questions are grouped according to language skills. There are three categories with 15 questions and each category represents a level of difficulty.

– Each question from the 1st category is worth 5 points for a correct answer.
– Each question from the 2nd category is worth 6 points for a correct answer.
– Each question from the 3rd category is worth 7 points for a correct answer.

If the student gives an incorrect answer, he or she loses a quarter of the value of that question:

– If an incorrect answer is given to a question in the 1st category, the 5 points are not awarded and 1.25 points are deducted.
– If an incorrect answer is given to a question in the 2nd category, the 6 points are not awarded and 1.50 points are deducted.
– If an incorrect answer is given to a question in the 3rd category, the 7 points are not awarded and 1.75 points are deducted.

If no answer is given, the question is awarded 0 points. If several answers are given, the question is awarded 0 points.
In order to avoid a negative or zero score, the score obtained by adding the total number of points earned by the student is increased by 80 points. Students’ scores will thus range from 12.5 to 350 points.

The answer to a 5-point question is correct + 5
The answer to a 5-point question is incorrect – 1.25
The answer to a 6-point question is correct + 6
The answer to a 6-point question is incorrect – 1.50
A question has no answer 0
The answer to a 7-point question is correct + 7
The answer to a 7-point question is incorrect – 1.75
Two answers are given for the same question 0
Total 13.50 pts

13.50 + 80 = 93.50 points

In this example, the final score will be 93.50 out of 350.

Results and Prizes

Correction and Rankings

The score and rankings obtained by each participant in the school will be sent to THE BIG CHALLENGE Coordinator on the date indicated in the contest calendar. The prizes will then be shipped to schools. All the results will be destroyed on 30 July 2018. Beyond that date, no claims will be accepted.

For each of the 4 class levels (leerjaar 1, 2, 3, and 4), three rankings will be established: national, regional and school. In the case of a tie among the 30 top students at the national level and the 5 top students at the regional level for each class, winners will be designated with priority given to the student who answered the most questions. If a tie subsists, students will be ranked from youngest to oldest.


THE BIG CHALLENGE awards prizes to all students registered in the contest. Other categories of prizes are awarded according to the various rankings obtained by students:

– Per student: whatever his or her ranking, each student receives a Big Challenge diploma along with a a poster of London or New York.

– The School Award: in each school, the top student in his or her level will receive a superb medal, The School Award, provided that one condition is met: the school must register a minimum of 100 students total, or there must be at least 20 students registered in the level.

– Per school: whatever the scores obtained by its students, each school receives additional prizes for participants who have achieved the best results at the different class levels. The number of prizes allotted to each school for its students is directly proportional to the number of students participating. Thus, over 50% of all students participating will receive an additional prize.

– Per region: the top student in each class level in each region will receive, in addition to all these prizes, the prestigious First Class National Honours Diploma, the Big Challenge T-shirt as well as the REGIONAL SUPER CUP.

– National: a student participating in the contest several times, consecutively or not, will be eligible for a national prize only once. If he or she were to qualify as national winner more than once, he/she will maintain his/her score, but will not be ranked and the prizes to which he /she would be normally entitled will be attributed to the next participant. Students who win a national prize will not receive the regional prizes in addition. Similarly, national and regional winners will neither receive The School Award nor the Twenty Award. The national champions from each class level will each receive a SPECIAL NATIONAL PRIZE as well as the PRESTIGIOUS First Class National Honours Diploma, the T-shirt and THE BIG CHALLENGE NATIONAL SUPER CUP.

– The Official Certificate: participants will have the possibility of using their BIG CHALLENGE account to print out their OFFICIAL CERTIFICATE indicating their score and three rankings. This official Big Challenge document attests to their level in English and is a useful addition to a student’s school records.

– NEW: TWENTY AWARD: At each level, students who answer 20 questions correctly will be entered into a draw. The 30 students whose names are randomly selected will win a special prize. Among them, one lucky student will also win an action camera! This way, even average students have an increased chance of winning a top prize.