Competition Round FAQ

​Coach Responsibilities

Do I have to be present during the round? Can my mentor fill in for me?
YES. Coaches must be present to monitor their students during a round of competition and ensure all competition rules are being followed. 
If you need your mentor or another adult to take over coaching duties for one round, you can submit a request for an alternate coach.

How do I request an alternate coach (for one round only)?
If a coach is unable to perform their duties, they may designate a coach alternate for one round only. To request a coach alternate for the round, complete the Coach Alternate Request Form prior to the start of the round. 

How do I request a permanent coaching change?
If you are no longer available to fulfill your duties as coach, you may transfer the responsibility to another qualified adult. To request the change, email with subject line: Coach Change Request. Include in the email your name, email address and the team number(s) (xx-xxxx) that you wish to transfer. Also include the name and email address of the individual who will be taking over as coach. 

The new coach must create a volunteer account or already have an existing account with CyberPatriot before the transfer can be processed. The change of coach will need to be approved by the verification official for the team.

My team can’t compete during the scheduled round. What should I do? 
There are no scheduled backup dates in CyberPatriot. The emergency competition date is for emergencies as stated in the Rules Book. All requests must be submitted via the Emergency Competition Date Appeal Form by 4:00 PM ET on the Tuesday following the scheduled competition round. Schedule conflicts will not be considered for the Emergency Competition Date.

Virtual Image Distribution Information

I didn’t receive the image download (or StartEx) email.
The image download email is typically sent on the Friday or Monday prior to the competition round start date. The StartEx email is sent at the start of the round (Thursday @ 9:00 AM ET).  A copy of the StartEx email will also be made available on the coach dashboard at the start of the round. If you have trouble locating the information, contact to request a resend. Include your team numbers (16-xxxx) in the body of the email. 

​Can I use cloud hosting to distribute images?
NO. Please DO NOT use vSphere or cloud hosting to distribute your images during any rounds of competition. Doing so may use up the limited number of license keys we have available and may disrupt the facilitation of the competition for all teams.

Can I send the images to competitors participating virtually? 
Yes, you may share the download links with virtual competitors; however, coaches must control the round images and passwords and ensure their proper use by persons known to them. Teams from the same school or organization CANNOT collaborate or share information from the images or Cisco Networking Challenge with each other or any other team.
If necessary, coaches and mentors can walk through the download steps with team members by safely using WebEx, Zoom or conference call. 
Coaches must ensure every team member deletes the images at the end of the round.

Scoring, Penalty, and Advancement Information

Where can I see my team’s score during the round? 
A public scoreboard is available during online rounds at You can also view your team’s score on the Scoring Report available in the images (desktop icon).

I have a JavaScript error on my scoring report. What does that mean?
JavaScript is required for some error messages that appear on the CyberPatriot Scoring Report. To ensure that you only receive appropriate error messages, please do not disable JavaScript on any of the images.

Why am I seeing an Overtime Penalty?
A team’s 4-hour competition window begins the moment they open the first virtual image in VMware. If you open an image before your planned competition time, your time begins. If you re-open the image later, you’ll see on the scoring report that the clock has been running, and your four hours may already be expired.

What is a multiple instance penalty? 
During a competition round, no more than a single copy of the same virtual image may be opened at the same time. For example, if you are running the Windows 10 images on Computer 1 you cannot open a second copy of the Windows 10 image on Computer 2 or 3. See the example below:

I’m having shutdown and Stop Scoring Button issues.
There are certain image security settings that will cause the Stop Scoring Button to malfunction. In the event your team receives an error using the Stop Scoring Button, please shut down the image using the following steps below:

  1. Click the Player drop-down
  2. Click Power 
  3. Click Shut Down Guest
  4. Click “Yes” on the pop-up
Shutdown or restart the host computer and do not re-open the image or you may incur an overtime penalty. Please ensure the images are deleted at the end of each camp.

There is an issue with my score. Who should I contact? 
Score Correction Requests will only be accepted via the official Score Correction Request Form. The Score Correction Request Form allows coaches to self-report scoring discrepancies or issues during and immediately after the competition (until 11:59 PM ET on the last the day the round ends – Late requests are NOT accepted). Please do not email the CyberPatriot Program Office with documentation unless requested. 

Once the score correction requests are reviewed, coaches will receive an email with the preliminary scores. The email provides information about the Preliminary Score Discrepancy Form​, which is the last opportunity for coaches to request changes to their scores before the scores are finalized and made official. Technical issues and scoring issues such as not recieving points for a fix, image crashes, etc. will not be considered in the Preliminary Score Discrepancy Report form.

When / where are final scores published? 
Final scores are published on under Competition > Current Competition > Scores. It takes 7-10 business days after the end of the round for scores to be published. Coaches will be notified once the final scores are posted. Until then, please refrain from contacting us about when scores will be available.

How do I know what "Tier" my team is in?
Tier placement for high school teams (Open and All Service Division) is located on the published Round 2 Scores​ document. Middle School Division teams are not assigned a tier placement.

What teams advance to the Semifinal Round?
  • Open Division - Within each tier, the top 25% of teams (based on State Round score) advance to the Semifinal Round. If a US state, Canada, or the At-Large Region is not represented by ​any of the top 25% of teams, the highest scoring team from each of the unrepresented locations will advance as a wildcard team.
  • All Service Division - Within each tier, the top 25% of team (based on State Round score and regardless of category) advance to the Semifinal Round. The six highest scoring teams from each category must advance to the Semifinals. If one of a category’s six highest scoring teams does not advance as part of the highest 25% of their tier, then that team will advance as a Category Wild Card. 
  • ​Middle School Division - The top 60% of teams (based on cumulative Introductory Round and State Round scores) advanced to the Semifinal Round.​

Image Troubleshooting 

Why won’t my image open? 
If an image that has a correct MD5 checksum does not open, you may try the following:

  • Verify the file name at the top of the VMware Workstation Player is correct. 
  • Verify that the file is not a zipped file by opening the unzipped image from the VMware Workstation Player. This is a common error.
  • Ensure virtual extensions or Virtual Technology settings are enabled in the BIOS.
  • Remove and re-install VMware Workstation Player.
  • Open the image on a different computer. 

My unique identifier is not working
If you receive a message that your Unique Identifier is invalid, verify and re-enter it. To do this, click the Set Unique Identifier icon on the desktop and enter the full 12-digit UID as displayed on the coach dashboard.

What do I do if my image is frozen?
If an image appears frozen, does not score, or otherwise does not function properly, the user has three options:

  • Go back through your notes and reverse what may have caused the issue.
  • Stop working on the image and accept the current score.
  • Shutdown the image, remove it from the library in VMware Workstation Player as well as the unzipped copy from the folder it was in, and reboot the host computer.  Then unzip a new image, open the image in VMware Workstation Player, and start with a score of zero.

How can I restart an image?
If an image needs to be restarted (restored to the way it was before any changes were made):

  1. Shut down image in VMware Workstation Player
  2. Delete the image .vxm folder (the current version of the unzipped image folder) 
  3. Extract a new copy of the image from the .zip file (the original image file download)
NOTE: If you open a new copy of the image, the score for the image will be reverted to zero. It is important to keep notes of changes that have been made to earn back easily and quickly the lost points.

Contact Us

Technical Questions
Our technical staff can help answer questions about image troubleshooting, competition rules, Cisco NetAcad access, software installation, etc.

During competition round weekends, the WebEx chat is the preferred tech support channel. DO NOT email for technical support during a round unless otherwise instructed to by CyberPatriot staff. 

Access the WebEx chat here​Use WebEx Password: CP14Coach!
Tech Support can also be reach through the ‘Tech Support’ icon on the image desktops​​

For technical questions outside of competition round weekends, contact or call (877) 885-5716.

Registration / Administrative Questions 
Our administrative staff can help answer questions related to team registration, volunteer account lockout, and the coach dashboard. Direct these questions to or call (877) 885-5716.