How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

This forum is for anyone seeking advice on starting a collegiate team, branching out into new types of tournaments, or other "how-to" aspects of collegiate quizbowl.
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How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

Post by AGoodMan »

In high school, this is how I studied quiz bowl:
1. Read packets.
2. Extensively look things up about a topic (for example, Tosca, Mexican-American War, etc.) on Wikipedia, Quinterest, encyclopedias, YouTube, other sources.
3. Create my own Google Docs notes based on the information I learned
4. Convert notes into Mnemosyne flashcards.
5. Continuously review flashcards.

At the high school level, this method worked out okay for me, as I was able to become a decent low-level generalist and do well at regular difficulty tournaments. The Wikipedia-Google Docs-Mnemosyne chain also seemed to help me with learning and retention. But now that I am a freshman in college, I know that the game is much more difficult. Is it still effective to flashcard, or more generally, continue with my study method from high school? I am no longer trying to generalize, but rather focus on Religion, myth, and history.
Jon Suh
Wheaton Warrenville South High School '16
Harvard '20 (Co-President)

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Re: How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

Post by Red Panda Cub »

The basic cycle for getting good at a knowledge based activity is, yeah, assemble information -> remember information. Your method, assuming you've found it successful so far, should continue to be effective. Make sure you also read books as part of the "assemble information" step.
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Re: How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Buy a big notebook. Take it to every practice and tournament you attend. Write down all of the answers that come up: tossup answers, bonus answers. Then go back through the notebook and look up anything you've never heard of or are curious about.

Definitely read books too, and not just old packets. The people who are writing questions are reading books, which are providing them with detailed clues to use in future questions. In my personal experience, older books can be a bit better for quizbowl, because they are more clue dense. That is, they tend to just focus on telling you what happened and the names of people involved, whereas newer books are more interested in elucidating some overall long historical trend. Harvard's libraries are full of old books about history and mythology, you'll find more than you can ever read.

Continue to behave as an intellectually curious person would. Go to museums and read the signs. Lots of art museums (including the MFA in Boston, which is actually a great example of this kind of museum) actually have enormous sections of historical and religious artifacts.

I've always found writing questions to be a good way of teaching myself clues (I retained the clues better if I used them in a question), and based on your signature you seem to be doing this already. Do it more, at the college level too.
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Re: How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

Post by UlyssesInvictus »

Read books, go to class, and read books suggested by class! Clue memorization/association works a lot less better at the college level, so learning contextual info is much more important. Coming to practice regularly is also a good idea to keep from being rusty :P (Or even leading practice to give your overloaded officers a reprieve.)
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Re: How to Study Quiz Bowl at the College Level

Post by kitakule »

Jonathan, I would certainly take into account what everyone else has said in this thread so far, but if means anything I study by reading packets and converting them into flashcards. My case might be a bit different since I came from an area with very bad high school quiz-bowl and this method helped "bring me up to speed" in terms of the general canon for high level quiz-bowl freshman year. The method is still effective today, but one caveat I would mention is that the cards can become somewhat of a chore as you progress through college and your academic and extracurricular workloads increase. I can't tell you how many times I've efficiently finished my homework at 10:30 PM, only to click on the Mnemosyne tab and realise I have 800+ scheduled cards to do. I would stop using Mnemosyne myself but I'm enjoying the end product too much to quit, and I wouldn't want all the hours and thousands of cards to go to waste. So I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that if you're willing to make the commitment and feel that it's worth it, you can use Mnemosyne for college quiz bowl, but the other methods are much better if you'd like to set your own studying pace.
Moses Kitakule
Episcopal School of Acadiana '15
Yale University '19 (Vice President '16-17, President '17-18)

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