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.


  1. Very interesting, full of clues...:)

  2. very nicely said. relevant on all days :)