What Is Quizbowl?

Quizbowl is a game in which two teams (usually featuring four students each) compete head-to-head to answer questions from all areas of knowledge including literature, science, history, mythology, fine arts, and more (and yes, even the occasional pop culture question)!

In a  typcial Quizbowl match teams hear 20 tossup/bonus question sets. “Tossup” questions are read to both teams, and any individual member of either team can buzz in at any point to interrupt the reading of a question when they know the answer. This format rewards players for the depth of their knowledge, instead of their speed on the buzzer, as the tossup question will start with obscure clues that generally get easier as the question is read. If the player is correct, they earn their team 10 points (15 points if they buzzed in on an earlier clue!) and the chance for three followup “bonus” questions, generally usually on a different topic. While collaboration on tossup questions is not allowed, conferring with your team for the more difficult bonus questions is encouraged.

Questions come from a variety of sources, some from national question writing companies like National Academic Quiz Tournaments, though many high school and college teams will write their own question sets (these sets are generally called “housewrites”). Tournaments are run at all levels — including middle school, high school, and college — and are hosted at schools all over the country (see our Tournament Recaps page for a list of tournaments the Ithaca team has played at!).

If you’d like some more information about Quizbowl and getting started with a team, check out NAQT’s About Quizbowl page or our own Player Resources page, or send an email to the Ithaca High School coach Benjamin Kirk.

Assignments and Mathematical Musings from Mr. Kirk

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