Help training a math player for quiz bowl

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herbie.brock
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Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by herbie.brock » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:44 am

Hey everyone,

First, let me thank you all for all your help. I truly appreciate it.

Next, let me fill you in on my suggestion. We are a new high school academic team in Kentucky, so our primary format for competition is quick recall. It is very similar to quiz bowl, with some small differences. One difference is that exactly 1/5th of the questions we hear will be computational math. Whether or not it happens during a tossup (5 seconds) or a bonus (10 seconds) is completely random as the format does not have specific tossup questions and bonus questions. So, if no one answers tossup 1, question 2 will be a tossup. If that tossup is answered, question 3 is a bonus for that team.

We will compete against some pretty formidable opponents this year, and we are pretty prepared to face them except for in math.

I have a good science kid who is interested in math and gets some questions for us, but not at the level we need him to. He is willing to work hard for the team, but I just need to know what direction to send him in. I have Art of Problem Solving books I can give him. Do you guys think that would be helpful for quick computation? If so, how should I implement the books?

I am by no means a math person at all, so everything he does will be self-directed. Also, I am very uninformed about math olympiad and math counts, but it seems like using prep material for that might be good for him too.

Please let me know if you guys have any suggestions to help this student reach his potential and to help our team!
Herbie Brock
Rockcastle County Middle School

Ozymandias314
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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by Ozymandias314 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:16 pm

Some advice for comp math, which I happen to be quite alright at, even though I concede its no longer my favorite type of quizbowl question.

Comp Math ends up being very different from all other quiz bowl questions. They're also pretty different from Math competitions, as you won't really be seeing any Olympiad-level content. The best bet if your player really only wants to get good at comp math is to practice A LOT of AMC 10/Mathcounts level questions. They'll want to put time pressure on themselves when they do the problems (so try to do a practice test with 2/3s of the allotted time, if not even less). Once they get solid at doing AMC level stuff, quiz bowl comp math should be really easy for them, and they'll probably be able to consistently get them on the first line or so (if these are like the naqt comp math questions that I remember). Of course, you'll also want to practice on then buzzer after you do A LOT of math questions in your spare time.

EDIT TO ADD: after you do a practice test, make sure that you read the full solution. In general, the official solution presents the "smartest" or fastest way of doing the problem, which is the one that you want to learn. Also, it's probably true that some of the techniques that are used for harder AMC 10/MATHCOUNTS nationals problems are even too difficult for quizbowl comp math, but the concepts themselves are ultimately useful for getting math theory tossups, so I would recommend pursuing those as well, especially if your student likes math.

tl;dr: spam easy-ish competition math questions with time pressure until you become really really confident in your speed math skills
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A Very Long Math Tossup
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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by A Very Long Math Tossup » Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:25 pm

I played Science Bowl in high school, and I got really fast at mental arithmetic by factoring the time in my head whenever I got bored. This definitely gave our team an edge.
herbie.brock wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:44 am
Next, let me fill you in on my suggestion. We are a new high school academic team in Kentucky, so our primary format for competition is quick recall. It is very similar to quiz bowl, with some small differences.
Really? I was under the impression that Quick Recall was nonpyramidal.
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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by CaseyB » Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:04 am

I'll echo what was said above about Mathcounts. I did Mathcounts in middle school which helped a lot when it came to computational math in high school quiz bowl. You may want to look in particular at the countdown rounds in Mathcounts, because rather than being a written test like the other parts of the competition, the countdown round was played at the buzzer.
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herbie.brock
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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by herbie.brock » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:33 am

A Very Long Math Tossup wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:25 pm
I played Science Bowl in high school, and I got really fast at mental arithmetic by factoring the time in my head whenever I got bored. This definitely gave our team an edge.
herbie.brock wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:44 am
Next, let me fill you in on my suggestion. We are a new high school academic team in Kentucky, so our primary format for competition is quick recall. It is very similar to quiz bowl, with some small differences.
Really? I was under the impression that Quick Recall was nonpyramidal.
Nowadays it is more pyramidal than it once was. Most tossups have between three and four clues and they do get easier as they go on.
Herbie Brock
Rockcastle County Middle School

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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by herbie.brock » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:34 am

CaseyB wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 7:04 am
I'll echo what was said above about Mathcounts. I did Mathcounts in middle school which helped a lot when it came to computational math in high school quiz bowl. You may want to look in particular at the countdown rounds in Mathcounts, because rather than being a written test like the other parts of the competition, the countdown round was played at the buzzer.
Will do! Thanks!

And thanks to everyone that helped!
Herbie Brock
Rockcastle County Middle School

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Jangar
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Re: Help training a math player for quiz bowl

Post by Jangar » Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:25 pm

This is an extremely late response, and with the state competition coming up this weekend this may not do your team very much good at all this year, but it may be useful for future reference.

Also, as a quick disclaimer, I am not the "math person" on my team, so this is all coming from a once-removed point of view already. However, I've been on the same team as our math guy for five years now, so I've got a solid grasp on his process.

Most importantly, Quick Recall math questions are much more about speed than depth. The level of difficulty of even high school QR math questions will not be insurmountable for most students; after all, they have to be reasonably answerable within five to ten seconds. Most players could probably figure out the right answer, if given enough time, so what is most important is recognizing the format of the question (i.e, understanding what the question is and what it's asking for) from the beginning. For example, if a question mentions something about socks or shirts (a la "Billy has three red shirts, and four blue shirts..."), it's almost certainly about combinatorics. Knowing this, a math player can then buzz as soon as all of the numbers have been read out, without waiting to hear the end of the question.

Again, there's really a set number of types of questions that QR will tend to use. Although it is certainly a wide range, just running through some practice sets and picking out the math questions and going through how to do each one (or even better, which formula to apply to each one) is extremely helpful for math players, if you can spare the one-person practice time.

In terms of mechanics, it's also very helpful to learn to buzz primarily with your non-dominant hand so that you can write down calculations on paper while still being ready to buzz at a moment's notice.

Hope this helps!
Angus Maske
Paul Laurence Dunbar HS '19
NASAT 2018

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