My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

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The Herb
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My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by The Herb »

Hey, everyone. I was recently indoctrinated into the cult of quizbowl, and (like everyone else) I'm trying to get better at it.

I try to study and improve, but I feel overwhelmed. Whenever I read something deep, I feel like I'm being inefficient with my time; whenever I read something more general, I feel like I'm not learning in enough depth to get a tossup on what I'm studying.

At the end of the day, I always feel like my studying has been ineffective, and I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to study effectively.

EDIT: I guess I was also kind of wondering it's better to study more broadly or more deeply in certain areas.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by AlphaQuizBowler »

The Herb wrote:Whenever I read something deep, I feel like I'm being inefficient with my time; whenever I read something more general, I feel like I'm not learning in enough depth to get a tossup on what I'm studying.
That's pretty much the basic paradox of quizbowl studying right there. I would say that the optimum strategy depends on your team dynamic: if you were starting a newer team, I would suggest going for breadth over depth. I understand, though, that they're pretty good at quizbowl over at Whitman, so it might be more useful to find your niche in a certain subject area and develop your knowledge in that.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Francis the Talking France »

I would ask people at your school and in your area, as you seem to be at an advantage where your school does well in plenty of tournaments during the year. My school hasn't done better than 6th or 7th this year, and I'm sure if we left North Carolina, we wouldn't do any better. Just ask around and see what the main players are doing at your school and other schools.

I'd also like to see what people say in this thread though, as I'm having the same issue. I can't lie though, I get at least 7 or 8 questions just off trash, haha.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

For the rest of this year, i would just study as broadly as you can. Read packets, tons of em, and try to remember as many quizbowl-esque clues as you can. Next year you can try to really dive into that niche you might find, or at least a couple subjects you enjoy a lot, and read deeply into them.

But, really, for high school quizbowl, packet study really works.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Angry Babies in Love »

Carangoides ciliarius wrote:For the rest of this year, i would just study as broadly as you can. Read packets, tons of em, and try to remember as many quizbowl-esque clues as you can. Next year you can try to really dive into that niche you might find, or at least a couple subjects you enjoy a lot, and read deeply into them.

But, really, for high school quizbowl, packet study really works.
Packet study is really the best, especially for a newer player to get a good grasp of the canon.
And once you feel ready, writing is really helpful as well.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Attend practice, see which subjects your teams are complaining about. If you hear somebody yell things like "dangnabit, we always miss those social science questions" or "ugh, I *HATE* African literature so much", that's a good clue that you could really add value to your team by studying social science or african lit.

Not only will you get more points, but your teammates will be grateful. There are some categories I truly hate, and I love it when I have teammates that make those questions go away really quickly.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Francis the Talking France »

Morraine Man wrote:Attend practice, see which subjects your teams are complaining about. If you hear somebody yell things like "dangnabit, we always miss those social science questions" or "ugh, I *HATE* African literature so much", that's a good clue that you could really add value to your team by studying social science or african lit.

Not only will you get more points, but your teammates will be grateful. There are some categories I truly hate, and I love it when I have teammates that make those questions go away really quickly.
Dreaded Literature and Opera then...sigh.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

MattNC wrote:
Morraine Man wrote:Attend practice, see which subjects your teams are complaining about. If you hear somebody yell things like "dangnabit, we always miss those social science questions" or "ugh, I *HATE* African literature so much", that's a good clue that you could really add value to your team by studying social science or african lit.

Not only will you get more points, but your teammates will be grateful. There are some categories I truly hate, and I love it when I have teammates that make those questions go away really quickly.
Dreaded Literature and Opera then...sigh.
Oh no, probably the easiest major and minor* categories to become a competent high school level player at!

*Opera may in fact share this title with social science, but I don't really intend to answer that question.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Francis the Talking France »

Haha, it's not a matter of difficulty in being able to study them, they're just not my favorite things to know/learn/study about.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant »

Which is why you should try to convince a teammate who does like them to learn them.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Francis the Talking France »

List of wrestling-based comic books wrote:Which is why you should try to convince a teammate who does like them to learn them.
That's kind of an issue. We don't actually have anyone who does except for one girl who just started coming to the meetings 1 or 2 months ago. She hasn't gone to a tournament yet though.
Matt Duchan
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by The Herb »

Morraine Man wrote:Attend practice, see which subjects your teams are complaining about. If you hear somebody yell things like "dangnabit, we always miss those social science questions" or "ugh, I *HATE* African literature so much", that's a good clue that you could really add value to your team by studying social science or african lit.
I see the idea of studying something your team doesn't know as a bit of a double-edged sword, because, after having learned a decent amount about said subject, you can easily grow complacent with your knowledge monopoly. At our most recent tournament (where we were pretty thoroughly humiliated by some pretty great teams) I found that I got more questions on the stuff that I would have had to fight for in practice than on the stuff that I would have gotten way before anyone else in practice--though I didn't really get much of anything.
Basil Smitham
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill »

MattNC wrote:Haha, it's not a matter of difficulty in being able to study them, they're just not my favorite things to know/learn/study about.
This may change when you start studying it. My Junior year, I answered less than 10 lit questions all year. Going into my Senior year, I knew I needed to learn literature, and a lot of it. The more I studied it for quizbowl, the more I found out about a ton of authors and stories that sounded really cool, and when I went and read them, they were really cool. I can attribute my love of Nikolai Gogol and Ernest Hemingway short stories directly to quizbowl.

So the moral of the story is, studying things for quizbowl can spark an interest you never thought you would have.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by ryandillon »

Inkana7 wrote:
MattNC wrote:Haha, it's not a matter of difficulty in being able to study them, they're just not my favorite things to know/learn/study about.
This may change when you start studying it. My Junior year, I answered less than 10 lit questions all year. Going into my Senior year, I knew I needed to learn literature, and a lot of it. The more I studied it for quizbowl, the more I found out about a ton of authors and stories that sounded really cool, and when I went and read them, they were really cool. I can attribute my love of Nikolai Gogol and Ernest Hemingway short stories directly to quizbowl.

So the moral of the story is, studying things for quizbowl can spark an interest you never thought you would have.
Yeah this is totally true. The more you spread out, the more cool things you find which help spur you on to become a better player. Also, even if you don't like it, getting more tossups is always nice.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Great Bustard »

Inkana7 wrote:
MattNC wrote:Haha, it's not a matter of difficulty in being able to study them, they're just not my favorite things to know/learn/study about.
This may change when you start studying it. My Junior year, I answered less than 10 lit questions all year. Going into my Senior year, I knew I needed to learn literature, and a lot of it. The more I studied it for quizbowl, the more I found out about a ton of authors and stories that sounded really cool, and when I went and read them, they were really cool. I can attribute my love of Nikolai Gogol and Ernest Hemingway short stories directly to quizbowl.

So the moral of the story is, studying things for quizbowl can spark an interest you never thought you would have.
Completely true. I discovered Saint-Exupery, Classical Music, Norse Myth, architecture, psychology, loads of other stuff this way. Two things I'd also recommend. Get a copy of An Incomplete Education. Seriously, the one living author of this book (Judy Jones, the other is William Wilson) should give me a cut, I recommend it to so many teams. On some subjects (vocab, photography, types of carriages, other random esoteric stuff) it goes into way more detail than you'll ever need, but I won entire tournaments in high school based on the studying I did from this. And it's written in a sardonic tone, that some may find annoying, but I loved.
Also, studying packets helps, but especially so if you go make lists of the stuff that is important in them for future reference. Not everything in every tossup is of equal importance. NAQT's frequency tables and "You gotta Know" lists are a good place to start here. Think of it almost like learning a foreign language. Going through packets is like listening to conversations - at some level this is essential. On the other hand, most people typically learn (at least after age 6 or so) more quickly through systematically studying vocab and grammar - which is like the nuts and bolts of qb facts that come up over and over again. Poems and poets, books and authors, operas/symphonies/whatever and composers - all of this is stuff that lends itself very nicely to the list approach. Then, don't just make lists, study them. In a car, in class, when you've got down time, whenever. Can't read your lists? Run through the facts in your head. No one said this is overly intellectual but it gives you good background for when you have time later to actually go back and read the books and poems, listen to the music, etc. Anyway, this approach worked very well for me in high school. More than anything though, be systematic about studying with your teammates. That's the number 1 thing that separates great qb teams from the best qb teams IMHO.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Tanay »

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:Get a copy of An Incomplete Education. Seriously, the one living author of this book (Judy Jones, the other is William Wilson) should give me a cut, I recommend it to so many teams. On some subjects (vocab, photography, types of carriages, other random esoteric stuff) it goes into way more detail than you'll ever need, but I won entire tournaments in high school based on the studying I did from this. And it's written in a sardonic tone, that some may find annoying, but I loved.
I've gone through a fair amount of this book and feel like it's good for local formats, as many writers who consign themselves to writing alternative formats (with more opaque conceptions of distribution and the canon) are more likely to use it directly for writing questions. For mACF/NAQT/HSAPQ and the like, I've found books on specific subjects to be more useful.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Auroni »

Play packets in a competitive setting as often as you can and strive to get the bonus parts that you missed last time or to buzz a clue earlier than you did on the previous tossup on a certain topic. Couple this with signing up for as many writing collaborations as you can handle. And when you have time, read up on specific subjects. If you do all three, you won't feel as much of an uneasiness about your breadth studying to the detriment of depth or vice versa.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling »

Definitely something that you won't waste much time studying for is poetry. The great thing about it is that it's really easy to gain real knowledge on it because it doesn't take much time to read and process poems (except for epics and extended ones like The Waste Land. However, poetry above anything else has a tendency to clump together (at least in my brain), but going back and reading the poems again helps reinforce the distinctions in your mind (and rereading them also takes little time).
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

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drno wrote:Definitely something that you won't waste much time studying for is poetry. The great thing about it is that it's really easy to gain real knowledge on it because it doesn't take much time to read and process poems (except for epics and extended ones like The Waste Land. However, poetry above anything else has a tendency to clump together (at least in my brain), but going back and reading the poems again helps reinforce the distinctions in your mind (and rereading them also takes little time).
This also holds true for short stories. They take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to read, depending on length, thus greatly increasing the return on the time invested.

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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by Everything in the Whole Wide World »

Even if you plan on specializing, there are a few things that are so frequent that you should at least give them a cursory study. Shakespeare comes to my mind. You don’t have to read the plays, just knowing a plot outline and characters were immensely helpful, even when I was playing junk quizbowl formats for my state competition.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by MrHickoryHam »

The Herb wrote:
Morraine Man wrote:Attend practice, see which subjects your teams are complaining about. If you hear somebody yell things like "dangnabit, we always miss those social science questions" or "ugh, I *HATE* African literature so much", that's a good clue that you could really add value to your team by studying social science or african lit.
I see the idea of studying something your team doesn't know as a bit of a double-edged sword, because, after having learned a decent amount about said subject, you can easily grow complacent with your knowledge monopoly. At our most recent tournament (where we were pretty thoroughly humiliated by some pretty great teams) I found that I got more questions on the stuff that I would have had to fight for in practice than on the stuff that I would have gotten way before anyone else in practice--though I didn't really get much of anything.
It is definitely important to have a team cover as many categories as possible, even if you have to pick up those categories yourself. However, I must agree with the Herb in the fact that when you lack competition on certain subjects in practice, you tend to feel as if you are much better than you really are. For me, this was the case. My top category has always been fine arts, but my lit knowledge is starting to surpass my fine arts knowledge. Why? Because no one else in my school knows arts, but there are several who are quite good at literature. The competition in the lit category inspired me to study really hard for lit, so I can finally kinda beat my team to the buzzer on lit questions. Meanwhile, I can do the same in Arts, but in tournaments with decent/really good Arts players, I can barely keep up, whereas my lit knowledge stays strong. So it is a good idea to heed the Herb's advice here, but still be able to cover as many categories as you can.
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Re: My Problem With Studying for Quiz Bowl

Post by sssssssskkkk »

MrHickoryHam wrote:It is definitely important to have a team cover as many categories as possible, even if you have to pick up those categories yourself. However, I must agree with the Herb in the fact that when you lack competition on certain subjects in practice, you tend to feel as if you are much better than you really are. For me, this was the case. My top category has always been fine arts, but my lit knowledge is starting to surpass my fine arts knowledge. Why? Because no one else in my school knows arts, but there are several who are quite good at literature. The competition in the lit category inspired me to study really hard for lit, so I can finally kinda beat my team to the buzzer on lit questions. Meanwhile, I can do the same in Arts, but in tournaments with decent/really good Arts players, I can barely keep up, whereas my lit knowledge stays strong. So it is a good idea to heed the Herb's advice here, but still be able to cover as many categories as you can.
I think you should draw your motivation for improving in certain categories more from the competition you face at actual tournaments and less from normal quizbowl practice. The key is to not grow complacent with any level of competency in quizbowl you have (if you really are serious about improving).
Webster Guan
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