This Frequently Asked Questions page will address some of the questions we anticipate. If your question is not listed here or the answer given below is not sufficient to address your concerns, feel free to email jeff.hoppes@gmail.com.

Should my team purchase a buzzer?

Yes! Here’s why.

It’s cheap. The cheapest buzzer system on the market is Anderson Enterprises’s OfficiatorTM, priced at $210. For a team of just ten people, everyone can chip in about twenty dollars for a buzzer system that will last you several years. Plus, tournaments offer five- to ten-dollar discounts for teams that bring a buzzer, which means that, with regular tournament attendance, the buzzer will pay for itself in just two or three years.

It’s fun. Having a buzzer system means you can use it at practices, scrimmages, intramural tournaments, and (with your team’s permission) take it home or elsewhere to use with friends. Practices are more lively when your teammates can simulate an actual match using a buzzer system.

It’s good practice. Using a buzzer at team practices is a great way to accustom yourself with the feel of pressing a button to answer a question, rather than slapping a table or shouting an answer. In a close game, having the experience on a buzzer may be what gives you the split-second advantage over your opponent.

It’s good for the community. For every one buzzer system your team purchases, that’s one buzzer system that any tournament in Northern California can use to field up to two more teams. Buying a buzzer system for year team is ultimately a purchase for the community that can help the circuit to grow and attract teams from other parts of the nation. For certain very large tournaments, we may specially request or require teams to bring a buzzer. More information on particular buzzers. If you have financial difficulties paying for buzzer systems, please take a look at the website of the charity Matt’s Buzzers.

Why NCQBA-certified tournaments?

NCQBA is comprised of a corps of experienced quiz bowl veterans who are committed above all to maintaining a high standard of quality and integrity in tournaments. Following the model of other large organizations throughout the country, we only give our endorsement to those tournaments that succeed in fairly rewarding more academically knowledgeable teams.

What are NCQBA members?

There are two types of membership: individual and “affiliated school.” Individual membership allows for voting power and the benefits of our organizational structure, which is the nexus of quiz bowl in Northern California. School affiliation merely requires a parent of a student, a student, or a coach/teacher from a particular school to give us their contact information or to respond to our emails of interest, and it places them in a position to receive NCQBA correspondence (including information about upcoming and past tournaments) as well as updates on the state of the Northern California circuit.

How can I become an individual member of the NCQBA?

For high school players and coaches, membership requires directing a certified NCQBA tournament that has a field size of at least 12 (we may still grant the membership if you don’t achieve this field size but can prove that you tried). Email ankit.aggarwal@berkeley.edu after the tournament’s statistics are posted publicly on the forums and the tournament database to receive membership. Remember that membership cannot be obtained by hosting a non-certified tournament, and a maximum of 2 individuals can be made members from a single tournament. Individuals who cannot host tournaments may gain membership through other means such as outstanding efforts to grow the circuit and assisting in our tournaments elsewhere. Those who are not affiliated with a particular high school or middle school may request nomination. If they are nominated by a member, the procedure outlined in the charter will be used to approve or deny the nomination.

Why join the NCQBA?

The membership benefits, including certain voting rights exclusive to members, are detailed in our charter. You can take a more active role in assisting the growth of the Northern California Quiz Bowl circuit once you join and gain the resources of the NCQBA at your disposal as well as priority in hosting future NCQBA-certified tournaments.

How should a team study for quiz bowl?

Aspiring teams can begin by familiarizing themselves with the format of and the community surrounding quiz bowl. The Quizbowl Wiki and the Quizbowl Resource Center (specifically its “Best of the Best” subforum) are the best resources for learning about the game, and the Quizbowl Packet Archive contains literally hundreds and hundreds of packets of questions. Additionally, studying for quiz bowl is a common topic that shows up quite often on the forums. Posts like this are geared towards beginners and are especially helpful.

The first steps in studying should be to read through high-quality questions either through the Quizbowl Packet Archive or a searchable database such as Quinterest or QuizbowlDB in order to learn common clues and essential information about key topics that come up frequently. The sets listed in bold are especially high quality sets for beginning players. Attending practices and tournaments is also crucial in gaining to exposure to new topics and improving at the non-knowledge areas of the game–teamwork, discipline, listening skills, and so on. A practice that many experienced players adopt is to write down every tossup and bonus part in a game, whether during practice or in a tournament, to look up afterward. This kind of practice helps enormously because, after hearing enough questions, you will hear many answers come up repeatedly, and the more you read on those topics, the earlier you will nail those tossups or the higher your bonus conversion will be. Experienced players will tell you that the common statistical yardstick to measure how good a team is by looking at bonus conversion, or the average number (out of 30) of points per bonus a team procures during a tournament. Bonuses have easy, medium, and hard parts as well as containing the majority of potential points, so a team that can consistently nail two or three parts of a bonus at a regular high school tournament will end up among the top 25 teams in the country. In this way, both pyramidal tossups and three-part bonuses reward the team with the greater knowledge of a particular subject.

The next step should be to pinpoint one or two enjoyable topics and read as much as possible about those topics. First of all, the classroom and school texts are a fantastic resource for learning the basics of any subjects that quiz bowl will test you on. This can range from reading works of poetry and literature to looking at and learning about the context of paintings and sculptures to reading a textbook on Byzantine history. Especially in studying for science, however, a conceptual understanding of key topics should be emphasized over knowing all the minute details of different scientists and formulas. Social science and philosophy will require you to be familiar with the works of important thinkers in many different fields. Books that summarize each subject in a more general sense are a fine jumping-off point for study. Writing questions on these subjects and submitting them to ACF’s Writer Feedback program is a great way to solidify knowledge, and there are several detailed guides on the subject. Ultimately, quiz bowl should spur you to read more books on academically important subjects, which will help you get an edge in every school subject.

The most important aspect of studying is to have fun! At the end of the day, quiz bowl should be an enjoyable activity, and any tedious attempt at rote memorization is simply a waste of time.

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