Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thoughts on Framing a Quiz Question

A good quiz question should meet a large number of the following characteristics

  • Long enough to provide sufficient details / clues. And short enough to enable a quick grasp of what's being asked.
  • High probability that the participants can work out or guess the answer, based on the data available and other facts that they are likely to know. Once revealed, the subject of the answer should be known to many.
  • Relevance. Provide new information that is interesting. Questions should provoke thought. It should not be merely a test of instant recall for answers. Though, audience should be able to recall Q&A after the event.
  • On revealing the answer, the reaction of the crowd should be - 'That's nice to know', or 'Oh! Interesting, I didn't know that', or 'I should have guessed that'. It should not lead one to think - 'Who's / What's that?', or 'Ok, So what?', or 'Who cares'
  • Should bring out the erudition / intelligence of the quizzers, rather than the QM's. Of course no harm in the question setter showing off knowledge or creativity, but it should not be through throwing multiple bouncers at the teams.
  • Clarity. Should not lead to multiple possible answers. At times, in order to not give away the answer, the setter may have to keep it a bit vague. However on the answer being revealed, it should be immediately acceptable as the only possible answer that meets all criteria set in the question.
  • Difficulty. Answerable by at least 10% of the crowd. Not known to > 80% of the participants.
  • Veracity. No cooked up facts to make it interesting.
  • Its ok to an extent, and perhaps unavoidable, to repeat / copy some questions from other quizzes. Especially if the participants are relative newcomers to quizzing, and are not likely to have seen the questions before. But with Kopimism having a large number of adherents among quizzers, its unlikely that no one has seen the same question before. So even if a question is being repeated, try and frame it differently. Or bring out some other aspect of the topic. Or build on previously asked questions on the theme.

A good 'set of questions' would fulfil a number of the foll:
  • Wide & Diverse range of topics. Though sticking within the theme of the quiz. e.g. A sports quiz would have all questions on sports. But it should not end up with half of them on cricket.
  • High on originality of questions. i.e, Keep repeated / copied questions to a minimum
  • Taken from multiple sources. Especially if questions are being lifted L,S & B. A team should not be able to ace the quiz, merely because they've gone through the year's KQA Mahaquizzer. Or because they subscribe to the Time magazine. Or have read the last week's newspapers.
  • Does not lead to a fastest finger competition. Especially if buzzers are involved.
  • Should be difficult to 'prepare' for. Be unpredictable
  • At the end of the quiz, all participants should feel that they have learnt some new stuff.
  • 75-90% of questions answered by participants.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Bird Watching

Seems the majority of the traffic to this blog is from those searching for 'quiz questions'. So will oblige and put up a few. This is from a round I’d asked at an informal gathering at Muscat, sometime back. Round title is ‘Bird Watching’.

1. Which Omani company’s name translates to “Seagull”?

2. Who was given a Guard of Honour by both the teams, India (led by Azhar) and England (led by Nasser Hussain) at his 66th and last test match at Lords in 1996?

3. Which famous name is the author of the book, 'Birds of the West Indies'? The cover also has the following text, "A field guide to all the birds of the Carribean Islands, with 94 color illustrations by Don R Ecklebury and 186 line drawings by Earl R Poole".

4. Darby Shaw, a Tulane University Law student wrote an essay speculating on the motives behind the assassination of two supreme court judges. And then got into all sorts of trouble for it. What was her write-up called?

5. Which NBA star of the 80s was also called the “Great White Hope”?

6. The National Anxiety Center is a sceptical organization whose purpose is to debunk scare stories promoted by environmental and consumer organizations such as 'global warming' and ozone depletion. It announces an annual ____ ____ award. The trophy is a rubber ______. Named after which fable character? (Hint: Char shared a fear with Vitalstatistix)

7. This Omani conglomerate’s name translates to “Peacock”. Which?

8. The Mad Hatter asks Alice this riddle, which is never answered in the story. Many answers were suggested much later. The most popular answer is, “Poe wrote on both." What’s the question?

9. Complete this nursery rhyme. "Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn, Apple seed and apple thorn; Wire, briar, limber lock Three geese in a flock. One flew east, And one flew west, ____________________________________"

10. Complete this famous line from a more famous book. "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it's a sin _________________.”

Notes: Questions 3, 9 & 10 are chestnuts. 1 & 7 provide the local flavour. While all are easy, 5 should be a sitter for anyone who follows sports. WRT framing, am particularly happy with the way #4 turned out. Also #8. Will put the answers in the comments, in a couple of days.