Illinois Econ Challenge

The Illinois Economics Challenge is designed to recognize students who demonstrate high levels of comprehension and application of honors or AP economics concepts and skills, and 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. 

Qualifications to Enter

Illinois high school students currently or previously enrolled in a qualifying Econ course may participate in the Illinois Econ Challenge. The program challenges students at an advanced placement level. Qualifying courses include:

  • Advanced Placement (AP Micro, AP Macro, or AP Micro and Macro)
  • International Baccalaureate (pre-IB and IB)
  • Honors, two-semester, or any other advanced courses in economics (including courses taught by a secondary teacher where students earn college credit).

Students who do not qualify but 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 challenge by registering student teams (consisting of 4 students per team) at EconChallenge ONLINE!  during the January enrollment period. The competition is not restricted by geographic location or budgetary constraints. Students from all over the state may easily participate. There are no participation fees and teachers may enter multiple teams.

Preliminary Round

Each team takes an online test of 30 questions. The 10 top-scoring teams advance to the state finals competition in Chicago.

State Championship Round

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

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 written tests. The four highest scoring National Semi-finalist teams qualify to compete in the national finals.

National Finals

The National Economics Challenge competition is held in May. The national finals consists of three written exams and a team analysis of a case problem. The two top-scoring Adam Smith (AP) teams then compete for the National Championship. 


The Illinois Economics Challenge (ILEC) is a program of Econ Illinois receiving support from BMO Harris. The ILEC competition is endorsed by the STEM Finance Learning Exchange.

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on the 2016-2017 NASSP List of Approved Contests, Programs, and Activities for Students.