The brackets for the West Kentucky Academic Association district quick recall championships are set, and for the first time, the teams are seeded based on their regular-season records.

The WKAA -- which competes at the high school and middle school levels with varsity and junior-varsity teams in the fall semester -- is a means of helping students prepare for Governor's Cup quick recall contests and subject assessment tests held in January through March.

"Our purpose of having the league is to foment academic competition among schools and to increase academic achievement in our area," WKAA President Jeremy Krug said. "Hopefully, we'll encourage even more students to participate in academic competition."

In WKAA quick recall competition, academic teams are placed in districts that correspond to high school basketball districts. Teams start the season by competing against teams within the district, and a competition during the season is set aside as the district championship, where the winners represent their districts in the West Kentucky Academic Bowl, held at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in late January.

In West Kentucky Academic Association play, two academic teams of four players each compete against each other in a question-and-answer contest using a variety of subjects. Students buzz in to answer a tossup question, and the team is given a bonus question if it gives the right answer. If it gives a wrong answer, the opposing team may answer the question with a chance at a bonus question. Teams are given one point for each correct answer.

Matches consist of 12-minute halves, where they may answer up to 40 questions in each half. The winner of the Academic Bowl is considered the WKAA champion. Paducah Tilghman is the defending high school champion. Semifinal and final rounds of the Academic Bowl are recorded and shown on local TV station Paducah-2 and posted to YouTube.

All district championships are scheduled to take place Thursday, starting with a semifinal round followed by the championship round. Here are the sites and semifinal round pairings for the district championships:

• District 1, Carlisle County, 4 p.m.: No. 1 Fulton City (6-2-0) vs. No. 4 Carlisle County (0-7-0); No. 2 Hickman County (2-2-1) vs. No. 3 Fulton County (1-2-1); winners play for championship.

• District 2, St. Mary, 3:45 p.m.: No. 2 Paducah Tilghman (9-3-1) vs. No. 3 St. Mary (0-2-0); winner plays No. 1 McCracken County (11-0-1) for championship.

• District 3, Graves County, 10 a.m.: No. 2 Ballard Memorial (5-4-0) vs. No. 3 Graves County (6-8-0); winner plays No. 1 Mayfield (6-1-0) for championship.

• District 4, Calloway County, 4 p.m.: No. 2 Calloway County (7-7-0) vs. No. 3 Marshall County (2-7-0); winner plays No. 1 Murray (5-4-0) for championship.

Crittenden County (4-0-0), Caldwell County (2-4-0) and Livingston Central (1-5-0) all take part in District 5, and Cairo (Illinois) (0-5-0) also takes part in regular-season competitions, but these teams are not eligible for the Academic Bowl.

McCracken County leads the association with 26.17 points per match, followed by Paducah Tilghman (19.69), Calloway County (14.14), Murray (14.11) and Mayfield (13.43).

This year, there are six weeks of academic team competition and two weeks of subject assessment testing in math, science, social studies, language arts and arts and humanities.

"We had a written assessment component back in the 2000s," Krug said. "This year, we brought it back as a way to encourage students who may not be as fast on the buzzer to take part in academic competition.

"Instead of having everyone travel to a central location to take a test (as is done in Governor's Cup), what we're doing is allowing every team member to take these tests at their own school. Students enter their answers online, and they're scored almost instantly."

With the addition of assessment tests, the WKAA is hoping to bolster area students' efforts in the statewide Governor's Cup.

"I have noticed a marked improvement (in the results of western Kentucky students at Governor's Cup)," Krug said. "Students are taking it more seriously and they are studying more effectively."

The WKAA began in 1982, predating the statewide academic competition association by four years, making it one of the oldest -- if not the oldest -- academic organizations in Kentucky.

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