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Forming a Good Quiz Bowl Team

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A Quiz Bowl, also known as an Academic, is a tournament in which teams of students compete on academic subjects, such as mathematics, geography, and science. There are tournaments for elementary (primary) school pupils all the way up to college and university students.

Teams can consist of any number of members, usually eight to ten, with half that number competing at any one time. There is also a coach who is usually a teacher at whatever establishment the team comes from.

Team Selection

When selecting members of a team, the coach should try out as many people as possible; even an unlikely candidate could be a blessing in disguise. The try-out process should be fair to all those who wish to enter. A process of this sort should consist of a written test and a speed test.

The written test should be at least 50 questions, covering a broad range of subjects, and should not be timed. Answers do not have to be in the form of complete sentences, as the answers given in competitions are often just a single word. The people who score the highest on this test move on to the speed test, eliminating all but 30 or so.

The Speed Test

The speed test should be conducted with a set of lock-out style buzzers1. The coach asks a question, and the first person to buzz in with the correct answer gets a point. After 20 or so questions, move on to the next set of hopefuls. The people who score the most points are the most qualified to be on the team.

Once the team has been selected, the captain must be chosen. The captain is responsible for giving the answers to bonus questions. The captain should be the most well-rounded member of the team, able to make quick decisions and to speak clearly. The reason for this is that, in competition, the captain may be faced with a situation in which he/she is forced to choose between answers, and they must decide quickly.

The members of the team should be knowledgeable in all subjects, with specialist subjects too.

Practice Makes Perfect

After the team is selected, they should practice often. Practice materials can usually be acquired from the organization sponsoring the competitions. The coach should ask for questions from previous competitions (this is quite good, because the organizers usually pick questions from previous competitions to ask in upcoming ones). Practice should be as close to competitions as possible, with team members playing against each other. During practices, rewards can be presented as incentives to the winning team.

Once in competition, the coach must select a few members to form the competition team. This team should consist of the captain and other team members up to the amount required by the event rules. If the team has members who are strongest in mathematics, at least one of them should be on the competition team, as hardly a round goes by without a mathematical question of some sort. The captain should be allowed to select who sits where, placing his/her most dependable members on either side.

A team should seek to compete in as many tournaments as possible, as the experience gained in one will help in another. To find out about competitions in your area, contact the local and state school boards.

1Lock-out buzzers should register who buzzed first, and keep out any buzz-ins afterwards.

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