Quiz bowl is the "sport of the mind." Although there are many names for it (academic bowl, academic competition, scholar bowl, knowledge bowl, brain bowl, etc.), quiz bowl is relatively the same anywhere you go. Basically, a team, sitting in front of buzzers, listens to questions, and tries to buzz in and answer the question before the opposing team. Points are awarded for correct answers, and the point of the game is to get the most points when all the questions are over. Being a boss at this activity takes a lot of time, perseverance and bossitude. It, however, will be worth it when you get to travel around the state and p0wn some derps, and they'll be like, "Oh, my gumballs!" Hopefully, if you follow this guide, you will be a cool, winning quiz bowl nerd.


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This video will hopefully get you familiar with the "sport of the mind."





Quiz bowl, like any other activity, has a large array of jargon. Here are just a few to get any player started:

  • Buzzing: Teams are sat in front of buzzers, which consists of a box and machines with a pokey-buttony-thing that will cause either the box or the pokey-thing itself to light up. Buzzing in the action of poking the pokey-buttony-thing, which is required to answer a question.
  • Toss-up: The most elemental question in quiz bowl. Toss-ups (TUs) are read to two teams, sitting in front of a buzzer or buzzers, by a moderator. Teams get one try to buzz in before there opponent and answer it correctly. Worth 10 points.
  • Power: Some tournaments will award powers to toss-ups. When one answers the TU early enough (the moderator will know, as the place where the power stops will be unbolded or have an asterisk), an extra five or 10 points will be awrded, on top of the 10 points from the TU.
  • Neg: Some tournaments will put in place "negs," in which a player is penalized for buzzing in early and missing a TU. Negs deduct 5 points from a team's total.
  • Round Robin: Tournament format, in which schools are placed in pools with other teams, then every team plays every other team. The goal is to go undefeated in your pool.
  • Swiss Pairing: Other tournament format, in which all the teams are randomly pair the first round. From then on, teams will play other teams with their same win-loss record. The end goal is to have all the undefeated teams give each other a loss until there is but ONE undefeated team. Being that ONE team is good.
  • Pyrimidal: Questions that a read from the most obscure clues to the most common. These are the best type of questions, as the team with the most in-depth knowledge of a subject would, theoretically, answer first.


Supplies Needed:

  • GOOD Practice Questions: Just like a basketball player needs a basketball and hoop, a tennis player needs a tennis ball and racket, and a musician needs an instrument, to be a good quiz bowl player needs good questions to practice with. Those can easily be found on the Internet, on sites such as hsapq.com or quizbowlpackets.com. These questions are pyrimidal, and will really expand your knowledge base, giving you a good idea what will come up in tournaments.
  • A team: Quiz bowl is a team sport, and a group of players who are knowledgeable in a wide array of subjects makes a school very successful.
  • Buzzers: To go to a tournament, you should have a set of buzzers. Outside of tournaments, buzzers are really the only way to practice. You have to get acquainted with buzzing in at the right points in questions to get as many points as possible. Without buzzers, that is not really possible.


1. Decide what you like to learn about. Quiz bowl is divided up in to subject areas, such as History, Literature, Science and Fine Arts. Studying for quiz bowl will be a lot easier, and a lot more fun, when you are learning about something you like. For example, if you really enjoy Chemistry, become a science player. Quiz bowl is a TEAM EFFORT, so a team of very knowledgeable people in their subject areas is the key to success.
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2. Free up your schedule. Quiz Bowl covers a broad spectrum of subjects, with each subject containing a colossal amount of information. If you want to be
the very best, like no one ever was, then you must devote a large chunk of time to studying. For example, the area of History includes many mini-areas, such as European History, American History and Asian History. Each of those mini-areas, American History for example, contains even smaller areas, such as the Presidents, famous politicians, American wars, Colonial America, etc.

3. Pay attention to all the knowledge around you. Although hard studying of lists and question packets help you retain new information, a good 30 percent of information that comes up in quiz bowl you have probably heard before. One of the best ways to study is to pay attention in class. Quiz bowl is a direct reflection of information learned in high school classes. When you study and pay attention in class, a good bulk of information shoul
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d come very easy.

4. Start with the basics. If you decide to become a literature player, start with the most famous authors and their most famous works. Learn things like The Odyssey by Homer, before you learn Factory Windows Are Always Broken by Vassal Lindsay. Consolidate common knowledge before you move in to very obscure information. The more common the knowledge, the more likely and more often it will come up.
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5. Build upon what you know. Once you feel like you have the basics of an area down, however, move in to more obscure information that builds upon what you already know. For example, if you know the common works by Edith Wharton, such as Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence, only then move on to the obscure works, such as The Custom of the Country and The Fruit of the Tree.

6. Find out which studying techniques work best for you. If you retain information by looking at a list over and over, then carry a list with you at all time. When you have nothing else to do, look over the list a few times. If you, however, don’t have a photographic memory, then use tools such as pneumonic devices or word associations to remember information. For instance, to remember the three Vice Presidents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the phrase “If the Garner keeps the Roosevelt from growing too far up the Wallace, then he is a Truman” should come to mind.images_(1).jpg

7. Now that you know the information, you have to know the game. Make sure you and the rest of your team, practice and study as much as possible. You have to all know the rules at each tournament you go to, including which format is being used. You have to know that there is a worksheet or lightning round coming up in case you have a player that is very helpful on those. To get all the points possible, you have to know the amount of time
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allowed on bonuses, how much time is left in timed games, etc. This includes knowing all of the quiz bowl jargon. Practice and tournament-play is the best way to get this all down.

8. With all this information at your behest, you must have confidence! If you hear a clue that sounds very familiar, then go for the buzz. More than not you will be right. And even if you are wrong, you will learn something from your mistake and never (hopefully) miss it again.