One team of six high school students and one coach is selected to represent each high school in the district at this tournament. The inaugural year for the PCHSAT was 1984.
The tournament is a highly academic competition for high school students. Each team consists of six members (four players and two alternates) and a coach. This is not a quick response, trivial pursuit contest. Instead, it is a slower-paced tournament in which players are asked questions from the areas of mathematics, science, language arts, social studies, world languages (French and Spanish), technology, the fine arts and the humanities. The questions are written by Florida educators to mirror existing curricula.
Five practice rounds are held during September through January at various high school sites prior to the county championship tournament. The site of the 2018 county championship is yet to be determined.
The 2018 PCHSAT Championship is scheduled for February 13. The semifinal round of competition will be on January 30 at four sites around the district. The public is invited and encouraged to attend these after-school competitions. There is no charge for admission.
The tournament goal is to provide a prestigious academic competition in which the district's academically talented high school students are recognized. The team members and coaches of the 1st-, 2nd-, and 3rd-place teams receive plaques, the six finalist schools are awarded trophies, and the Polk County Champion receives the Clara Hirschfield Trophy for Academic Excellence. The Polk Education Foundation will award a $500 scholarship to each of the six winning team members.
The Polk County All-Star Academic Team will be selected to represent the district at the 2018 Commissioner's Academic Challenge, Florida's state championship, scheduled for April 19 - 21 at Disney's Contemporary Resort.