Most Important Subject

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ChopinManiac
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Most Important Subject

Post by ChopinManiac »

I have always wondered what most people consider to be the most important subject to learn in academic bowl. While I assume that it would have to be one of the big three, i.e. Science, literature and social studies, I have never really been able to tell if one was more important than the other. So anyone here who has an opinion on the most important subject to learn, please enlighten me.
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Post by somerandomguy »

I suppose it depends on what style of questions you are using. It seem to me that there are a few formats that are a little heavier on the Social Studies than Science, Lit, or really anything else. (not attacking anything, just saying that it seems that way). However, in a successful team, all three "majors" need to be mastered.
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Post by Admiral »

I think it also depende on the competition.....if you are playing a team with some absolutely top notch science people (as an example)...your science people will likely be neutralized......let it go and load the team with the humanities and hope for the best....etc, etc, etc.

The type of questions you use are also pretty important. Illinois balances math, social studies, lit, and science equally. It is very tough to win with a one man (or women) wrecking crew, and it is even harder to win if your team only knows one or two subjects very well....two math people are a must or you will never advance very far (unless you are assured of answering every SS, Lit, and Science question out there). I have seen NAQT questions, and it looks like you can leave the human calculators at home.....it also seems that if you have total command of history, geography, art, and literature, you are a shoe in to win.
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Admiral wrote:two math people are a must or you will never advance very far (unless you are assured of answering every SS, Lit, and Science question out there).
2 math people? With the IHSA format going 1/5 of each round math, sci, lit, social studies, and the other 1/5th about half humanities and half misc., you need to use the 5th player to shore up a weak subject. If math is that subject, so be it, but if you need 2 math people for IHSA matches, you need to redefine your definition of math person, unless your Calc/Trig player suffered a concussion and completely forgot Algebra.
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Post by Admiral »

but if you need 2 math people for IHSA matches, you need to redefine your definition of math person

In my opinion, the lelve of math in the state tournament (not necessarily the local matches) has gotten much tougher.....in the state finals it seems that people today get a lot fewer math questions correct than they used to...and by that I mean that people are running out of time, not just "not knowing their math".

The issue is on the math bonuses. If you are looking down the barrel of a complex four part bonus, you really need two people there to handle the math (and its not always simple algebra or geometry). If you don't, you are handing likely three or all four parts over to the other team.

Since my experience has been that math experts = science experts (or close approximations thereof), they are pretty valuable. My experience has been that lit and SS and Art people tend to specialize quite a bit...science and math people end to be more general (but that is just my opinion).
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Post by cvdwightw »

There are really two theories as to what's the most important to learn. The first is to learn whatever your team's the weakest in, as people have already pointed out. Some formats place more emphasis on computational math than others (there's almost none at the college level), but having someone strong in math is good if he/she knows another subject better than anyone else on the team, no matter how minor (as long as it's general and it comes up more than a couple times a tournament).

The other theory is that the most important thing to learn is whatever you as an individual are either strongest or weakest in. Strongest: you already have a good background in whatever subject, and by increasing the breadth and depth of knowledge you become a darn good specialist. Weakest: shoring up your weak holes is a major priority if you're a one or two-man team. In addition, schedule conflicts or illnesses/injuries can mean that a major contributor in an area you're weak in won't make an important tournament. Working to gain a decent base in every subject allows you to cover for teammates who are absent or sitting out.
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Post by No Sollositing On Premise »

All of the advice given so far has been sound, but I believe that studying something that doesn't interest you in the least can only be a burden; be your own specialist. The best advice I can give is to pay attention in practice all the time and practice often so that every member on your team can become at least a decent generalist, and to organize teams so there is a balance and minimum overlap in specialties.
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Post by ericblair »

I would say that the single most important subject to learn is Fine Arts and Humanities. By learning this subject one gains an understanding of art, philosophy, history, literature, and music. With a deep knowledge in this field, a good knowledge in other areas will come.
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Post by No Sollositing On Premise »

Dude, "fine arts and humanities" isn't a single subject, you have to divide it in to at least four (fine arts, history, literature, and social studies) before you can portion those out. It's kind of like saying "the most important thing to study in academic bowl is most of academia."
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Post by quizbowlmike »

History-

A very smart man once told me, "Everything is history."--J.R. Barry

We all know that it depends on the format and on the level of play. But, getting the most bang for your buck would probably have to be:

JV - World Capitals, American Lit, and US History

Varsity - European History, simply because it covers both world wars, basic events from many european countries, basic arts and humanities, and could even cover philosophy and literature. Either way, it's definately a good subject to build from.
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Post by Stained Diviner »

My sense is that quiz bowl questions in social studies cover a broader range of topics than quiz bowl questions in lit and fine arts. You are not going to become strong in social studies just by learning some lists and reading a few articles (though you might get a little bit better). It is possible to do so in lit and fine arts, however, especially in fine arts. This is especially true if you spend a few years at it (on and off of course).

Such studying will not win NAQT, PACE, or PAC Nationals because more depth is needed on those questions against the best teams, but it will add some points onto your score on a regular basis.
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Post by UISQuizBowl »

From what I remember in Missouri Lit was by far the most important subject. If you had somebody who could steamroll through lit and you where average at everything else you where almost assured to make it to the finals of any given tournament.

These recollections are dated by 4 years now so things could have changed.
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Post by mujason »

On the Missouri hs php board, there's actually a discussion about lit; some people think it's too list-oriented (i.e. works and authors). Technically, the MO distribution is as follows: (tossup/bonus)
Lit: 10/4
Math: 10/4
Social Studies: 10/4
Science: 10/4
Fine Arts/Performing Arts: 3/1
Grammar: 3/1
Miscellaneous: 4/2
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Post by mentalchocolate »

The most important subject is math. You must be able to calculate in your head in what direction and speed you must press the button, therefore w/o learning math everything else is pointless. (Although these skills are easy to master).

After you have conquered this than it depends on the format. In NAQT lit, social studies, and the fine arts are the most important and should be the focus of 2 or 3 of the players. Science and math usually can be taken by 1 person (there aren't that many types of math questions out there in NAQT).

The Govenor's Cup (Kentucky) has each of the following at 1/5 (or so they say)

math
science
social studies
english (a bit broad i think)
fine arts

In this format every good team knows lit, social studies and the fine arts. Math and science questions surprisingly go unanswered much of the time. This is the time you should probably have one person for math only.[/i]
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