The National History Bee and Bowl’s Guide to Quiz Bowl Resources

The National History Bee and Bowl’s Guide to Quiz Bowl Resources

By David Madden, NHBB Executive Director, Summer 2011

The You Gotta Know pages, while they haven’t been updated in a few years, are still one of the best online resources for getting the most relevant information on scores of topics that come up again and again. Organized by subject headings (e.g. deserts, New York Yankees, Civil War Battles, etc.), the YGK pages are by no means comprehensive, but provide a great starting point. NAQT has recently begun to update YGK again after a bit of a hiatus. NAQT’s website also has information on all NAQT tournaments, including HSNCT, the High School National Championship Tournament, which had 224 teams this year.
ACE Quiz Bowl Camps are a great way for students to improve their games over the summer, to meet other quiz bowlers from around the country, and have a great time. In the summer of 2012, ACE will be holding camps in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio, and Illinois. Meanwhile, on their website, similar to YGK, the ACE study guides are another great set of resources. Certain guides have highlighted information, which helps students prioritize the information presented.
This is the most comprehensive site for old quiz bowl packets, an invaluable study resources. Of course, packets vary considerably in terms of difficulty and quality(anything advertising itself as having been written by one of the top teams in the country is usually on the hard side; look for “novice” or “freshman-sophomore” tournaments for easier questions.) Older packets may not be consistent with recent trends in question writing, both in terms of distribution and question structure.
HSAPQ (High School Academic Pyramid Questions) maintains a packet archive on their site, including questions from last year’s National History Bowl National Championships and NASAT (the year-end state all star tournament). Some 20 odd sets are available. Generally these questions are very well-written, and longer than NAQT questions.
A great new resource, the Torrey Pines database allows you to search by category and difficulty to find the sort of tossups you need most to improve your game. Best of all, the site features two “play-along” functions, one of which hides the answers to tossups until you click on them, the other of which actually reveals words in the tossups one at a time so you can buzz in on your computer, give your answer, and see how you stack up against the competition.
The quiz bowl forums at are the premier resource for now for finding out about upcoming tournaments and discussing all things quiz bowl. Discussions, known as ‘threads,’ discuss tournament formats, question formats, tournament logistics, quality of teams, tournament results, etc. Under High School Tournament Announcements, you can also find the latest on the free Online Skype Practice League that the National History Bee and Bowl sponsors. Two of your school’s players can play in any one round (rounds last 5 weeks). There will be six rounds over the course of the year, followed by a Champions’ League. and
The homepages of the National History Bee and Bowl, these sites have the most updated and comprehensive information on the fastest growing academic competitions in the USA, with 80-90 tournaments projected for 2011-2012 in the USA and beyond. The sites also feature information on NHBB Nationals which will be in Washington, DC on April 28-29, 2012 and will have information on logistical preparations, competition sites (including Mt Vernon, the Smithsonian, embassies, etc.), and registered teams beginning in January 2012.
This site maintains a full database of tens of thousands of past Jeopardy! questions organized chronologically. There’s no function to sort by category, and keep in mind of course that Jeopardy! and quiz bowl are two completely different sorts of competitions. However, this can be a helpful and fun resource when used with that caveat in mind. Plus, you can see who answered the questions correctly, and who did not.
A great service to the quiz bowl community, Matt’s Buzzers provides grants of $200 towards the purchase of a buzzer system for teams that win an annual draw. Matt’s Buzzers was founded in memory of Matt Cvijanovich, a former quiz bowl star who passed away in 2005. Make sure your school enters next year’s draw if you need a new buzzer system!

An Incomplete Education By Judy Jones and William Wilson
AIE was my quiz bowl bible while in high school. I literally won entire tournaments for my team based on the studying I did from it. Granted, much of the information contained within this cultural literacy tome is beyond the scope of quiz bowl (e.g. basically the entire chapter on vocabulary), but much of it is outstanding; i.e. pithy Shakespearean plot summaries, good descriptions of major religions, a strong American Literature section, etc. The tone is very tongue-in-cheek, but I found it a pleasure to read. Again and again and again.

Prisoner of Trebekistan By Bob Harris (see:
Not a study guide, per se, but rather the account of how one guy who didn’t play quiz bowl in high school used the experience of studying for Jeopardy! to transform his outlook on life. Basically, Bob taught himself loads of information to succeed on Jeopardy! (which he did; he’s one of the show’s most successful contestants ever), and then went back and read the books whose titles and authors he had memorized, went and visited the countries whose capitals and currencies he had learned, joined all the religions he had learned about (well, okay, not that, but you get the point). Bob is a stand-up comedian, so the book teems with humor. A must read for everyone in the quiz bowl universe.

The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge
Fills in many of the gaps where An Incomplete Education doesn’t cover things. Not nearly as entertaining to read, but a great resource to look up various subjects quickly.

The Teaching Company / Recorded Books
These are CD courses of college lectures. They also come with outlines that are very handy. Next time you’ve got a long car ride ahead of you, get these! I particularly recommend anything by Timothy B. Shutt of Kenyon College (Recorded Books) or Daniel Robinson of Georgetown University and Robert Bucholz of Loyola University of Chicago (Teaching Company).