How To Get Better at Quizbowl

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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How To Get Better at Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:48 pm

Here's something i wrote up a while back for my teammates, and in it I try to give suggestions on how to make yourself a better player. I figure I'll throw these out for your critiquing pleasure and future use. I'd be interested in ways to revise it, add to it, stuff like that. Also, in light of the discussions going on right now I would maybe be interested in seeing a college version of this being made.
For a lot of new players, quizbowl can seem really scary. There are a ton of things that come up that people haven't heard of before they joined, and that can be really scary, especially since there are players on our team who have already mastered a lot of it. However, I'll be the first to say that you can change this (just ask Brandon), and it's surprisingly easy to turn yourself into a solid player if you want to put in the work. Here are things you can do-

• Read lists of basic information about such things as authors and their works, famous battles in history, capitals, SI units of science, etc. We have lots of these kinds of things around the room, just ask Mr. Allen. Also, there are "You Gotta Know" lists on naqt.com, just click the link on the side.

• Read JV and one-liner questions from old tournaments. This can be really helpful for new players just to build a base of knowledge.

• Read NAQT questions of all kinds. A-sets are easier (3 lines), regular IS-sets are harder 4-5 lines, and National Championship sets, which can get really hard. All of these sets can be really good to read so you can expand your knowledge of lots of the things that come up in high school quizbowl. NAQT is a question writing company that writes for a lot of high school tournaments, and reading their stuff can help out a lot in your game.

• Read all kinds of other sets, both from house-written high school tournaments and from college sets. I have a lot of high school tournaments that I can email to you. It can be really helpful to read college novice sets and other easy tournaments like ACF Fall. Lots of tournament sets can be found on the ACF archive ( http://acf-quizbowl.com/archive.php ) and on the Stanford Packet Archive ( http://quizbowl.stanford.edu/archive ). If you are interested I can give recommendations and/or burn you a disc of all the tournaments on my computer. Also, I can possibly print out copies of tournaments for you to read through when you aren't on a computer.

• After a while, if you figure out what kinds of subjects you are interested in, you might want to try and learn all kinds of stuff about that subject and make it yours. If you can get 80% of the questions in any given subject, you can be a really useful player for a team. This is one method a lot of players take, where they specialize in one subject and then expand out to other subjects and become a really good, helpful player. One method to improve in this is to read subject-area tournaments

• Read the Stanford Culture pages, which are very extensive pages about all kinds of quizbowl topics ( http://ai.stanford.edu/~csewell/culture )

• Come into practice at least 3 times a week for an hour or more. We have practice every day, and we are pretty loose about scheduling stuff, and you don't HAVE to come in all the time every week, but if you show up pretty frequently you will get a lot more experience playing and will be exposed to even more stuff. 3 times is a pretty good number to shoot for, I think, and if you come in more often, then that's even better.

• Join online forums and read a lot of the discussions. I would recommend lurking until you've become more involved in the team and gone to a tournament or 2, and then joining and getting involved in the discussions (which range from really in depth discussion of quizbowl topics to sports and nonsense). These websites are http://hsquizbowl.org (this is the larger national board) and http://z4.invisionfree.com/academic_competition (this is the Missouri-specific board).

• Listen to online recordings of real games. These can be found by browsing naqt.com and on Mike Bentley's blog ( http://quizbowlcast.blogspot.com ). The first one has recordings of the high school national championship from the past 3 years, while the second has both high school and college. There is also podcast by a guy named Dwight Kidder who works at NAQT, and there is a fair amount of useful information there if you have the patience to listen to them all. The link to it is http://fraughtmachine.com/9minutes .

• A suggestion that a former player named Raj Bhan made is to write questions. This can be a really helpful way to solidify your knowledge so that you are actively involved in learning it. If there's a subject you don't know a lot about, it might help to research them write some questions about it. What's good about this is that they can be used later for tournaments. Bhan's guide can be found here.

Now, I've listed all of these things, but don't be scared by how much there is. This is a really gradual process, and it takes at least a year to do this stuff unless you have all kinds of free time. Instead, just try mixing and matching some of the things I've suggested (except for practicing, you should do that), and see what happens.

I guess the biggest thing for quizbowl is to have the right attitude about it. Don't get discouraged just because you aren't as good as someone else, or because you lose games, or because you are put on the B team, or whatever. Instead, pay attention to what those better players are getting and try to learn it, or maybe read some extra games, or pay attention in practice to the questions or clues you are missing. If you engage yourself you can turn into a really really good player in a surprisingly fast amount of time. If you spend 20 minutes reading just one game a day in a few months you will be so much better you will shock yourself. If you do even more then that, you can turn into a real monster within a year or 2, even if you come into your first practice not knowing anything. Topics and clues almost always repeat themselves in quizbowl. Most importantly, have some fun while you're here.
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:13 pm

Since you give a shout out to Raj Bhan, I thought I'd make this available to anyone and everyone who wants it.

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:21 pm

Thanks - if someone mentions something that I find worthwhile I'll edit the original post to include it.
Edit - Wait Donald, whatever you linked to needs a UIUC ID to access.
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"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

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Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Dec 30, 2007 8:39 pm

Fixed

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Post by ScoBo » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:11 pm

Not a big deal, but you could change the MO board url to moquizbowl.com

In general, it looks good. I personally would encourage question writing; that's probably from where a lot of my deeper knowledge has come. Holding casual practice sessions at someone's house is also helpful; I think this in particular really helped Liberty's 2007 seniors to become as good as they were (at the substandard Missouri game, at least).
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Post your tournaments, SQBS reports, and question sets to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database!

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Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Dec 30, 2007 11:16 pm

Oh, whoops, I can probably just delete that address entirely for this post since it was for a Missouri team originally.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
"I won't say more because I know some of you parse everything I say." - Jeremy Gibbs

"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

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Post by Mike Bentley » Wed Jan 02, 2008 5:28 pm

Some other tips I'd probably add:

Take a class in a subject you know nothing about, especially a subject with a relatively small canon. An Art History class, for example, will teach you enough to be a decent enough art player at most levels of quizbowl except for the harder college tournaments (and will still provide some useful information in those tournaments). Taking a class in an area that you know nothing about can be better than simply studying on your own as the class will probably do a better job of easing you into the subject and forcing you to study and retain the knowledge that you learned.

I've found audiobooks to be pretty helpful in improving in quizbowl. Audio books play to the same audio learning and comprehension that quizbowl does. They're also relatively easy to introduce into your existing schedule, as typically most people spend a considerable fraction of their day driving, walking places or exercising. If you listen to an audiobook rather than music or nothing during these periods, it can very quickly add a solid base to your knowledge. The Teaching Company (http://www.teach12.com) offers some really good lectures on things that are quizbowl staples (especially in areas like history, religion, philosophy, and classical music). There are also knock off companies that offer similar lectures (like Portable Professor). And, of course, regular books like novels or historical works can also be easily found in audio form. Rather than shelling out big bucks for these yourself, check out your local library. They're almost certain to have a good selection of stuff from the Teaching Company or other books you might be interested in. I suggest burning these to your computer and putting them on an MP3 player so that they're more portable and you're not tied up with due dates. You can also relatively easily buy software that will rip DVD audio to MP3 for about $30 if you, for instance, can only find DVDs from the Teaching Company.

Play online quizbowl. If you connect to irc.slashnet.org and go to #scobowl, you can play all sorts of questions to your heart's content. You can also relatively easily set what category you want the questions to be in, if you're trying to focus on getting better in a certain area.
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Post by The Atom Strikes! » Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:14 pm

For art history, reading a college coursebook can make one considerably better.
Henry Gorman, Wilmington Charter '09, Rice '13, PhD History Vanderbilt '1X

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Post by Ondes Martenot » Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:30 pm

im surprised no one's mentioned it yet, put i think watching jeopardy really helps....

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Post by Jeremy Gibbs Lemma » Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:10 pm

jeopardy is not listed because we are talking about how to get good at quizbowl ... not how to get good at a game that halfway resembles quizbowl

while it might be fun to watch, it doesn't promote learning deep knowledge

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Post by AndyShootsAndyScores » Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:42 pm

Kent B wrote:...it doesn't promote learning deep knowledge
Unfortunately, neither does most of Alabama quiz bowl.
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Post by Strongside » Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:51 pm

The thing about quiz bowl is there are many was to get better. Charlie covered a lot of the ways in his post, but I would like to add a few things.

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=3484 This thread started by Ryan Westbrook is a good thread to read, as he explains what he did to improve at quiz bowl.

Another way to improve is to look over the forum archives to look at old threads discussing questions. If someone talks about how something was out of place in a question, too easy, too hard, etcetra, it might be worth remembering.

This isn't really a quiz bowl study tool but in high school I got a question at a tournament based off of an episode of David Letterman I had watched the night before, that I otherwise wouldn't have gotten.

I also powered a question at the NAQT HSNCT based on an episode of Jay Leno that I watched once.

I was looking over the 2007 MLK packets, and there was a tossup about Zebulon Pike with a lead in describing an island named for him near where I live that I have run on before. There was also a bonus part at that tournament where one had to be name a sport team based on a few of their players from 1995, and one of the answers was The Minnesota Twins, which I knew because I followed the team when I was younger.

While the main ways to get better at quiz bowl is to go to meets, practice, look over old questions, and write questions, there are also numerous other ways to get better,
Brendan Byrne

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Post by Youse Da Force » Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:54 pm

I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.

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Post by STPickrell » Wed Jan 02, 2008 9:48 pm

For Asian history, I'd recommend Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

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Post by The Atom Strikes! » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:11 pm

The truth is, reading or consuming almost anything with academic information in it will make you a better quizbowl player. Also really excellent are AP History Courses
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Post by Ugly » Wed Jan 02, 2008 11:43 pm

I'm having trouble getting to irc.slashnet.org
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Post by Alejandro » Thu Jan 03, 2008 1:54 am

Ugly wrote:I'm having trouble getting to irc.slashnet.org
I'll just repost these instructions:

1. Get an IRC client (for example, mIRC or xChat)
2. Set your server to SlashNet (irc.slashnet.org, or if that doesn't work, moo.slashnet.org, vertex.slashnet.org, radon.slashnet.org)
3. Connect to the server
4. Join #scobowl (/join #scobowl in most clients)
5. Read the rules and play!

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Post by Arian Fathieh » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:49 am

Youse Da Force wrote:I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.
I know it sounds silly but this is one of the best pieces of advice that can be given to a quizbowl player. You would be surprised how much can be learned from video games considering how many are based off of history. Having a strong reference point is helpful too, even for unrelated information. For example, remembering Alan Shepard is easier upon thinking of the video game Mass Effect and its protagonist Commander Shepard.
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Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jan 03, 2008 4:06 am

I suggest reading the thread in this very same forum about the benefits of writing questions. You will get better faster by writing questions than by almost any other method. Barring that, reading academic books on your chosen subjects is my preferred way of learning, but I'm a very text-based guy; maybe for some people listening to audio lectures like Mike suggests would be a better idea.
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Post by The Atom Strikes! » Thu Jan 03, 2008 9:16 am

Youse Da Force wrote:I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.
The most awesome, of course, for historical content, is Age of Empires II (for some reason, in 3, they didn't have a historically based campaign)
Henry Gorman, Wilmington Charter '09, Rice '13, PhD History Vanderbilt '1X

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Post by Youse Da Force » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:45 pm

SwissBoy wrote:
Youse Da Force wrote:I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.
The most awesome, of course, for historical content, is Age of Empires II (for some reason, in 3, they didn't have a historically based campaign)
This is true. I forgot to mention it because I didn't install it on my laptop.

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Post by walnutmjb10 » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:17 pm

those slashnet sites still dont' work

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Post by pray for elves » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:34 pm

walnutmjb10 wrote:those slashnet sites still dont' work
Are you trying to access those through a web browser? If that's the case, they won't work. Use an IRC client (mIRC, Chatzilla, Pidgin's IRC client, etc.), or the java client linked above.

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Post by wilusa » Mon Feb 18, 2008 1:54 am

Arian Fathieh wrote:
Youse Da Force wrote:I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.
I know it sounds silly but this is one of the best pieces of advice that can be given to a quizbowl player. You would be surprised how much can be learned from video games considering how many are based off of history. Having a strong reference point is helpful too, even for unrelated information. For example, remembering Alan Shepard is easier upon thinking of the video game Mass Effect and its protagonist Commander Shepard.
Hey guys, I'm a phd student in classical studies, and also I teach full-time Latin and Greek at a college preparatory high school, and I can tell you that the Europa Barbarorum modification for Rome Total War is built by history/archaeology/classics grad students and other artists to help *educate* moreso even than to entertain. Tens of thousands of Greek and Latin names (real ones), thousands of recordings of classical Greek, Latin, P and Q Celtic, and now Old Persian and proto-germanic voiceovers have been recorded and are in the game, as are detailed year by year summaries of what happened to these peoples each year you play. Realistic traits (with their ancient names), famous ancient monuments, descriptions of provinces, etc. And it's all free. :grin: Just take a look at our map:
Image

You can download the mod here (but you'll need to pick up Rome Total War out of the bargin bin at your local Best Buy or Walmart): http://www.europabarbarorum.com/downloads_mod.html

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Re: How To Get Better at Quizbowl

Post by Ondes Martenot » Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:58 pm

Athena Starwoman wrote:If you are interested I can give recommendations and/or burn you a disc of all the tournaments on my computer. Also, I can possibly print out copies of tournaments for you to read through when you aren't on a computer.
[/quote]

Hey Charlie you have any packets you can email me?
Aaron Cohen, Bergen County Academies '08, RPI '12, NYU-???, NAQT writer, HSAPQ writer, PACE writer

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Re: How To Get Better at Quizbowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Mar 10, 2008 7:00 pm

My email is charlie16 at gmail. com, email me and let me know what kind of stuff you want and i can try to get back to you with it.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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"At one TJ tournament the neg prize was the Hampshire College ultimate frisbee team (nude) calender featuring one Evan Silberman. In retrospect that could have been a disaster." - Harry White

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Re:

Post by nurgles_herald » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:01 am

Youse Da Force wrote:
SwissBoy wrote:
Youse Da Force wrote:I can recommend computer games, specifically historical ones.

This would include:
Civilization IV
Crusader Kings
Europa Universalis II (better for historical events)
Europa Universalis III (better gameplay)
Victoria
Hearts of Iron II
Rome Total War : Europa Barbarorum mod

Not only can you learn history if you read descriptions and pay attention to events, but you can learn geography. For example, conquering Europe in all these games makes you learn major cities and their locations, which in turn can lead to powers.
The most awesome, of course, for historical content, is Age of Empires II (for some reason, in 3, they didn't have a historically based campaign)
Uh, the MyMap Mod of Europa Universalis II is infinitely more historically grounded and educational than AoE II. Just for the record. The only problem is that the rivers get slightly messed up in the MyMap mod... but oh well. Can't always get what you want, I suppose.
Walker Yeatman, State College alumnus

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