Illinois Econ Challenge

The Illinois Economics Challenge (ILEC) is designed to recognize students who demonstrate high levels of comprehension and application of honors or AP economics concepts and skills, and to reward teachers for outstanding practices in teaching high-level economics. The Illinois program leads to the Adam Smith division of competition at the national level.  Access to student and team test scores provide insight into content knowledge gained and critical thinking skills. Registration is simple and testing is convenient and easy to do. 

Illinois high school students currently or previously enrolled in a qualifying economics course (see Rules & Timeline page) may participate in the Illinois Economics Challenge. The ILEC program challenges students at an advanced placement level.

Students who do not qualify for ILEC, but who have taken a consumer education, one-semester economics or personal finance course may participate in the Personal Finance Challenge.

How to Enter

Teachers in Illinois begin the Economics Challenge by registering student teams (consisting of four students per team) at EconChallenge during the January and February enrollment period. The competition is not restricted by geographic location and teachers from all over the state may easily engage their students. There are no participation fees and teachers may enter as many teams as desired.

The ILEC competition provides an individual test score for each participating student, making it a great assessment tool for Illinois economics learning standards. For this reason, many AP teachers engage all of their AP level economics students in the annual competition.

Preliminary Round

Each team takes an online randomized test of 30 questions. The 10 top-scoring teams qualify to advance to the state finals competition held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

National Semi-finals

Held as a proctored test at their school, all semi-finalist teams compete at the same time. This level of competition involves four rounds of online tests. The highest scoring National Semi-finalist teams qualify to compete in the national finals in New York City.

State Championship Round

At the state competition, the student teams take a set of three written tests.  They also compete in a Case Study analysis and presentation to a business professional. The two teams with the highest scores after the four rounds of competition advance to the final Quiz Bowl, which concludes with the announcement of the Illinois First Place team. The State Championship team qualifies to compete in the National Economics Challenge Semi-finals. 

National Finals

The National Economics Challenge is held in May. The national finals consist of three written exams, a team analysis of a case problem, and a Quiz Bowl final round to determine the National Championship Team


The Illinois Economics Challenge is a program of Econ Illinois brought to you through support from our partners and donors, with special recognition to Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs for his endorsement and generous support.