Why am I not improving?

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JoelIn1
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Why am I not improving?

Post by JoelIn1 »

Hello, I am an upcoming high school junior who has been playing for 3 years now. Ever since I started in freshman year, I haven't improved too much in terms of ppg. At most, I answer up to one or two questions. Usually, I cannot even do that and I go the entire round with no questions answered. My stats are awful, and I'm really embarrassed. My teammates usually get like 5 or 6 powers per round, and I feel inferior to them. I don't get it. I've been playing as long as them, and study everyday. I'm in a HS quizbowl tournament right now, and I just feel so bad after every game. I feel very disappointed in myself. So, fellow quizbowlers, how do I improve quickly and get results? I'm a history player, if that helps. I just want to feel better.
Niththilan Ramanitharan
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db0wman
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Re: Why am I not improving?

Post by db0wman »

How do you study, and how often?
Dylan Bowman
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Snoopy
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Re: Why am I not improving?

Post by Snoopy »

JoelIn1 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:18 pm My teammates usually get like 5 or 6 powers per round
If you have very good teammates like this, and especially if one of them is a History player as well, you might just be shadowed very heavily. Do you make good contributions on bonuses when you compete? If you play by yourself, say, on Protobowl, do you do exceptionally well with a lot of powers?
JoelIn1 wrote: Tue Jul 21, 2020 3:18 pm So, fellow quizbowlers, how do I improve quickly and get results? I'm a history player, if that helps. I just want to feel better.
Well, hate to say it, but getting better is neither quick nor easy. The good news is that if you were to adopt a study plan and stick to it, by the time you get into Senior year, you'll be doing pretty good. I'll leave what that exact study plan is to other members here.
"THE" Joe Feldman
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Subotai the Valiant, Final Dog of War
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Re: Why am I not improving?

Post by Subotai the Valiant, Final Dog of War »

There are two ways people get better at quizbowl, in general. The way I like to analogize this is with a landscape of sand. New learning is represented by adding sand. Every point on the landscape is a particular topic, and the height of the point is how deeply you know that topic.

In general, people either build up spikes or layers of sand. If you build up layers, you're increasing your knowledge of most of your category slowly. If you build up spikes, you're building up deep knowledge of particular things. Most people do a mix of these but generally lean more toward one side or the other.

Based on the way you describe your stats, I'd guess you've been learning by "layers." If you at most get 2 questions in a game, you're probably not getting the random amazing games extremely over your average that result from luck when you're a "spiky" player with very high spikes. To demonstrate what I mean by "spiky," there have been instances where I've randomly alternated between being top scorer on my team one game and getting one tossup in another over the course of a tournament, in games with similar outcomes.

The upside to learning by "layers" is consistency; you have relatively similar levels of knowledge of most topics in your category. The downside is that you'll easily get shadowed by someone who simply has a higher baseline than you do, which is likely the case, as Joe said, given how good your team is.

My suggestion would be to build up spikes in areas of knowledge you enjoy. On regular high school questions, I would define "spike" level knowledge as something that will get you an early to mid power. Read deeply about some things, and you'll get the questions on those things if nothing else. This will not be quick at getting you a lot better, but it will definitely produce results if the spikes you cultivate are things that appear reasonably often in quizbowl. Learning by layers, while it gives more consistent results in the long run, tends to be a lot more thankless at the beginning, and if you're looking for "quickly" improving, that may not be what you want.
Daniel, Hunter College High School '19, Yale '23
vathreya
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Re: Why am I not improving?

Post by vathreya »

The obvious answer to this question would just be to study more. However, there's a lot more to quiz bowl than simply "studying" and coming across things. It's hard to translate whatever you come across when reading packets or when taking notes into something you can store and retrieve fast at game speed. I am by no means an expert on this, but here are some things which I think might help:


1. If you're going through packets or a question reader, try and go through each tossup line by line. After you read each line/clue, try and narrow down the answerspace to a list of possible answers, and then eventually once you get to a clue where you think you might have an answer, "buzz". If you're correct, then you now know your thought process behind getting to the answer a lot better, and you may be able to repeat it in-game. If you're incorrect, then you can add that answerline to a list of possibilities, learn more about the clues that could have caused you to "neg", and learn more in-game. I am of the opinion that the quiz bowl game is as much about making connections and educated guesses as finding knowledge. In many cases, it's easy to get frustrated and not buzz because you aren't familiar with a clue explicitly, but you can still get points (and buzz somewhat early) on such a tossup if you're able to narrow it down and make an educated guess.
2. Write questions. If there are sets open to newer writers, take the opportunity. Even if there aren't any such sets, you can still write your own questions, and use them as a database from which you can draw questions, if you choose to participate in writing a set. Writing questions helps organize your knowledge into a "quiz-bowl" format, and allows you to mentally consider the different ways something could be clued. This is useful in-game because, while you may have come across something while studying, it's a lot easier to retrieve it from your mental storage if you're familiar with something with a similar phrasing as well. Additionally, writing questions allows you to synthesize information from various sources into one "unit", which you can use to study a certain concept, thing, etc.
3. Seek out additional sources of knowledge. It can be somewhat tiresome to expand your knowledge base solely through reading and writing questions, carding, taking notes, and other forms of studying. There are other, more secondary ways of improving your knowledge base that could have a greater effect on your performance. Since you're a history player, there are numerous youtube channels which present history in a somewhat interesting way - Kings and Generals is one that is often recommended by history players. If you're into podcasts, there are numerous history-based podcasts available that you can listen to. The good thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them almost anywhere - you can listen while doing homework, working out, or doing other activities.


This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are some things that could help you improve your performance (and perhaps make you enjoy quiz bowl more). Most of the things on this list are not substitutes for bona fide studying (taking notes, making flashcards, reading packets, etc), but these are good supplements that help you take your studying and turn it into an in-game advantage, and may help you obtain the maximum yield from your time spent on quiz bowl. In any case, I wish you the best of luck for your quiz bowl future.
Vikshar Athreya
MSJ/Escobar'18
UW'22
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