Subject guide for question writers

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David Riley
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Subject guide for question writers

Post by David Riley »

Tired of the "hidden themes" (e.g. all English questions being about prefixes, all social studies questions being about World War II battles), I have developed a subject guide for questons writers. Contact me if you would like to see a draft copy ([email protected]).

Before I submit it to the general public howevr, I have a couple of questions.

1) How much time for math questions do you allow in your state (I know Florida allows 60 sec, Illinois 30)?

2) Do you allow foreign language questions, and if so, which languages and how are they structured?
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BuzzerZen
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Post by BuzzerZen »

In NAQT-ish/ACF-ish TU/B, there are never foreign language questions as such, though there are of course questions about books originally written in languages other than English. Math comp questions generally allow 10 seconds total following the end of the question, but the usual 2 seconds following a buzz.
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First Chairman
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Post by First Chairman »

Foreign language questions are more plentiful in Panasonic, as you know. Most other quiz bowl competitions avoid it. We have enough trouble with foreign names, so it would be awful to try to have us read foreign sentences or interpret.

Math: PACE NSC has one known calculation question per round in the category quiz. We are still seeking a good balance in time, as we have previously allowed 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 60 seconds depending on how involved the question is. As a rule, we never use math tossups and we have moved away from "riddle" questions at the NSC (e.g., periodic table chess).

Personally, I would also welcome "calculation" questions in physics/chemistry as bonus questions, but I always see math questions as needing collaboration or a lot more time to conceptualize. Otherwise, we might as well run MathCounts.
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mithokie
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Post by mithokie »

In Virginia, the state VHSL format allows 10 or 15 seconds past the end of the math questions (I believe), but the question is read twice so the second reading often gives a good bit of computation time. Neg 5's only apply on the first reading.

Our local MACC competition which has a math team as well as other subject area teams allows 20 seconds for team math questions and 10 seconds for math toss-ups.

As a former player who specialized in math stuff... I say bring on more math in all formats... but I am most definitely biased.


VHSL has 1 foreign language per match (50 questions)... They seem to be usually french or spanish, but there may be others. Shaun Pickrell could tell you for sure.
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Post by STPickrell »

Math questions get 10 seconds after the second reading.

Foreign language is 1/50 per VHSL match, and that includes Spanish, French, Latin, as well as "questions to which the answer is a language," such as "Italian," "Esperanto," etc.

I dropped the German questions this year. Some of the French and Latin questions have as answers foreign phrases in those languages.

There's been a few comments from schools that don't offer languages other than Spanish.
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Post by First Chairman »

Oh I should mention: Ohio format gives "equal time" usually. So each team question usually gets the same amount of time, so 20 seconds for Team B's question follows up with 20 seconds for Team A's question. The tossup afterwards, I think at regionals and states, it's the same amount of time before the question dies.

This is true regardless of length of time, and I think the longest I've recalled math questions in Ohio format go has been 30 seconds, but I'm guessing Bob Kilner remembers a few 60-second ones?
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NoahMinkCHS
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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Georgia is 15 seconds. I don't recall ever hearing any specifically foreign language questions (except at really bad local tournaments, where anything was fair game), but most tournaments tended to use NAQT or follow NAQT protocol, so thats's a factor.

(I say "specifically" because I wouldn't consider a question on something like "deus ex machina" or a legal term to be foreign language, even if the giveaway were "give this Latin term for X".)
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Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

I know for a fact Ohio has used 60 second math--and it sucks--but I haven't seen any in the last year or so. Three of those are almost as long as the damn alphabet round (or just as long as it in some competitions).

Speaking of alphabet rounds, one time at my county tournament I wrote foreign language alphabet rounds for the later stages (the regular league season went from A to V, the first four rounds of the tournament were W, X, Y, and Z, so I had to try something new). The first was A with 10 French and 10 Spanish one word answers. The second was B with 7 French, 7 Spanish, and 7 Italian (you could choose one to not answer). Third was C, 5 French/Spanish/Italian/German. That was as far as we got, but we had D: 4 French/Spanish/Italian/German/Latin ready if needed.

They didn't go over too well, although scoring was better than some of the harder English rounds (Q, X).
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Post by sweaver »

West Virginia allows 15 seconds for math requiring calculation.
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Post by MCDoug »

How much time for math questions do you allow in your state (I know Florida allows 60 sec
One tournament in FL does allow 60 seconds for math questions, but that same tournament also allows 60 seconds for all of its questions and is probably the most ridiculous format known to quizbowl (i.e. panasonic format). Florida also has "normal" quizbowl tournaments, including an NAQT state championship and other NAQT tournament, as well as college written tournaments in ACF style. These actually make up the majority of tournaments down here. Needless to say, these tournaments use the normal 15 second time limits for math.

Tired of the "hidden themes" (e.g. all English questions being about prefixes, all social studies questions being about World War II battles),
There is a reasonable way to do themed rounds and an unreasonable way to do it. Most tournaments have a normal distibution between lit, history, science, etc. It is possible to have a "hidden theme" and still adhere to these specific distributions. I've seen it done with all answers relating to birds, all answers containing some form of the word Mark, a cast listing for Star Wars (that round was crazy: "Old" English, Big "Ben", "Keno", "Bee", "Guiness"), and an all atheist themed round (both tossups and bonuses for this last theme). Three of these were at high school tournaments and were generally well recieved. That other was at a small "friendly" college tournament and it was also well recieved. So as long as the theme can stick to the distibution of the tournament, it's fine, but if it changes the distribution (like the two examples you have given) it is a bad thing.
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Post by Stained Diviner »

I think that by hidden themes, Mr. Riley means tournaments that aren't supposed to have themes. That is, you show up at a high school tournament expecting a regular distribution and all of the chemistry questions are "Name the element that..." or all the world history questions start out "Name the British monarch who..."

There is no problem with themed rounds or themed tournaments as long as everybody signing up knows what they are getting into, but we sometimes show up expecting one thing and end up with another. The problem comes from the fact that many high school tournaments are written by a single person or small company that is weak in a particular area and does not realize that the tournament is weakened when their questions are not broad enough.
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