General Information

What Is Quiz Bowl?

Quiz Bowl is an academic knowledge game, usually played between two teams of up to four players, where players buzz in to answer questions on subjects such as science, literature, history, music, art, social science, geography, and pop culture.

Berkeley quiz bowl players who have gone on to game shows such as Jeopardy! or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? in recent years include Larissa Kelly, Elise Burton, Jeff Hoppes, Steve Kaplan, Nick Meyer, Eok Ngo, and Albert Lin.

Games which are similar to quiz bowl in at least some ways include College Bowl, It's Academic, Science Bowl, Kiwanis Bowl, Knowledge Bowl, Academic Team, Academic Decathlon, Trivia Bowl, Certamen, High School Bowl, Brain Bowl, Hi-Q, Trivial Pursuit, Jeopardy!, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

A typical game of competition quiz bowl proceeds as follows: First, a tossup question is read to all players. When a player thinks he or she knows the answer to the question, he or she buzzes in using their buzzer. Players are "on their own" during a tossup question; they may not consult with teammates at any point. If a player answers the tossup question correctly, their team receives 10 points and a chance at a bonus question. The bonus question, which is worth a total of 30 points and typically consists of several parts, each worth 5-15 points, is read to the team as a whole, and they may consult with each other on their answer to each part of the question. Only the team that correctly answered the tossup may answer the bonus. If a player incorrectly answers a question, their team is assessed a 5 point penalty and the remainder of the tossup is finished, during which only the other team may buzz. Once the question has reached the end, players are no longer assessed a penalty for an incorrect answer. The team which accumulates the most points at the end of play (which may either be a fixed amount of time or a fixed number of questions) wins the match.

The formats that Berkeley plays most often are NAQT, which features timed tournaments, a faster pace of play, and a fair amount of pop culture, and ACF, which features untimed tournaments and more academic, in-depth questions.

To see what a typical quiz bowl round looks like, see these sample NAQT questions, which have a wide variety of different examples at different levels of competition.

See our links page for more links.

For New and Prospective Members

When and where is practice?

For information on the current status of practice, see the front page for times and locations. For more information, and to confirm, contact our club presidents (whose contact information can be found on the front page).

New members are always welcome at practice, students and non-students alike, so if you want to drop by and play a few games, please drop in and meet us. Our practices are very low-key and casual, and not mandatory. (Of course, practicing is one of the best ways to make you a better player.) Many members show up periodically whenever they can make it. We meet twice a week in order to minimize the possibility of schedule conflicts; if you have something on oneof these nights, you can always come to practice the other night. Of course, some players do come both nights.

What happens in practice?

During practice, we typically read and play on questions. Play proceeds as it would during a competition match as described above, with the exception that, to encourage more buzzing, there are no teams; players buzz only for themselves. (This way, if you buzz in with an incorrect answer, the rest of your team doesn't have to sit around doing nothing for the rest of the question.) During practice we also usually allow free buzzing on bonuses, also to speed up the proceedings. Usually before a tournament, though, we will try to play with regular rules so that people can become re-acclimated to them.

Some people worry that they won't be able to answer any questions in practice, but don't be alarmed! None of us started out as a great player; eventually you'll get better. And we try to have a separate room for newer players whenever there are enough, so that they'll have a chance to answer questions without worrying about the older players getting them all. Finally, remember that even if you don't get a lot of tossups, you can still be a valuable asset to your team by helping out on bonus parts. So don't give up! Many tournaments are also aimed towards newer players, so you can still play at them without worrying about more experienced players.

What tournaments does the club attend?

The tournaments that we attend fall into three categories:

Players have also attended invitational tournaments at far-away locations such as Chicago and Michigan, but expenses for these tournaments are paid out-of-pocket.

How has Berkeley done at these tournaments?

During the past several years, Berkeley has established itself as one of the top national teams, capturing the NAQT National Championship in 2004 and the ACF National Championship in 2003. Our record is the best on the West Coast. We are currently looking to build up a fresh corps of undergraduate players to maintain our proud tradition. Our other goal is to get every graduating quiz bowl player in the nation to come to Berkeley for graduate school.

Do you hold any tournaments?

Yes, Berkeley holds many tournaments each year, including the Collegiate Novice tournament in the Fall and regular difficulty events during Winter and Spring. Typically, when we host a tournament, the more experienced players run the tournament, serve as moderators, and so forth, so that the newer players can play if they want (of course, help is always welcomed).

What else do you do?

Over the years, the club has also run campus intramural events and high school tournaments. Recently these programs have been dormant but we are seeking to revive them to promote wider interest in quiz bowl.

Is there a mailing list?

Yes, there is a local email list for the club. To subscribe, send mail to <> and request to join the list. Unsubscriptions can be handled similarly.

For broader discussion, check out the Yahoo! quizbowl group. Other resources can be found on our Member Information page.

How do I join?

There's no official initiation rite or anything; if you want to join, email our leaders, subscribe to the mailing list, and start coming to practice. That's really all there is to it. We'd be delighted to have you!

Information for Visitors

  1. Where can I find information about Berkeley tournaments (location, parking, etc.)?
    See our Hosted Tournaments page.
  2. Why is there a guy in Sproul Plaza singing show tunes?
    Welcome to Berkeley.
  3. What's the deal with constant drumming?
    Welcome to Berkeley.
  4. What's the deal with this guy screaming at me?
    Welcome to Berkeley.
  5. What's that terrible smell?
    Welcome to Berkeley.