Transitioning from Regular to higher difficulty levels

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Transitioning from Regular to higher difficulty levels

Post by ybestone » Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:15 am

I'm not entirely sure if anyone else has felt the same way, but as someone who has just started playing quizbowl around 2 years ago, I find the difficulty spike between Regular level tournaments (such as ACF Regionals) and something like ACF Nationals (which I've played twice now) to be somewhat terrifying. Being primarily a literature player and what I'd optimistically call a low-level generalist, I'd like to say that I'm reasonably comfortable with the Regular-level canon at this point. To a certain extent I'd also say that I can manage at harder difficulty levels. (WAO and This Tournament is a Crime being ones that I actually got to play last year) But even after being (from my perspective at least) significantly more prepared for Nationals this year compared to last year, I still ran into the somewhat annoying problem of simply not knowing things in my slice of the distribution. I'm already working on studying even more of the material in my areas but I was wondering whether there's any advice people would like to offer on this issue. Is the trick just to continue studying things until you, for lack of a better way to put it, know everything? Also, this is specifically a question about the general area of literature, but other than studying directly from packets, what are good sources to read up on works of literature? (Since it is almost impossible to read literally everything. Also in a lot of cases at higher difficulty levels tracking down sources about certain novels or plays that aren't the works themselves has been quite hard)
Yonathan Stone
New College of Florida '19

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Re: Transitioning from Regular to higher difficulty levels

Post by mhayes » Tue Jun 06, 2017 11:23 am

I'm far from a literature specialist, but poems, short stories, and novellas are a significant chunk of the literature canon and are relatively easier to read in a short amount of time. For higher difficulty tournaments, many (but not all) answer lines are from lesser known works of well-known authors, so it helps to be familiar with such works (e.g. reading If Beale Street Could Talk may give you more mileage than only reading Go Tell It on the Mountain).
Matt Hayes


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Re: Transitioning from Regular to higher difficulty levels

Post by ErikC » Tue Jun 06, 2017 3:12 pm

I would say there is a Nats-level canon that some packets more than others lean on. While Nats is at the difficulty level that you will find the First Question Ever on some topics, other times there will be questions similar to Regionals, just more difficult. Getting these kinds of questions (like asking about a specific character from a novel you would tossup at Regionals) can come with practice of harder and some deeper learning about regionals level content.

For me, I find that because I have practiced on Nationals level packets enough that you begin to get the sense for what kinds of things they will ask for; for example, asking about lesser known eras of a country's history or a less-known book by a notable philosopher.
Erik Christensen
University of Waterloo - School of Planning Class of '18
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