Quizbowl Math

Some quizbowl tournaments these days have stopped using computational math. Their theory is– the rest of the game is quick recall of information, and computation is not quick recall. It’s a different skill set from the rest of the game. Math questions where the answer is “integer” or “point of inflection” are still OK; just don’t make anyone calculate anything.

Whatever your personal opinion, some states (including Illinois, Missouri, Georgia and Kansas) require some calculation in each game, so if no one on your team can calculate well, you’re at a disadvantage.

Here are five ideas to help your math experts score more points in quizbowl:

1) During practice, go over the math questions from past tournament sets. Give your students the same amount of time they would get in a game for each problem.

If you have used our tournaments in the past, they usually have the solution written under the answer. This allows students to learn how to do them in practice. If the set you’re using has no solutions provided, ask a math teacher to come in for a few minutes and demonstrate the basic techniques. Concentrate on shortcuts that help problems get done more quickly.

Let the students see each problem on the page instead of just reading it aloud. You may discover that they understand the problems fine but that simple arithmetic (like dividing 42 by 6) really slows them down. In that case, flash cards can really help.

2) The first 10-20 problems in each section of a math book are easy and intended to be done quickly so students gain confidence. Many books have answers to odd-numbered problems in the back. So give the math expert 30 seconds (timed with a stopwatch) for each of the first 10 odd-numbered problems. If he gets 7-8 of them right in the time limit, move on to the next section. Continue for up to 15 minutes while other team members are studying their area of expertise. You may be surprised at the progress a student can make in the month before your next tournament.

3) Use our math quizbowl set that has 200 questions, divided by general math subjects. Each question is designed to be answered in 30 seconds or less.

4) Our weekly subscription sets each have several math questions in them to simulate a real game. Ensure your math experts can do all of the problems in each set, using the solution information after each answer.

5) Use our Common Core math sets that map to the Common Core standards but are written in typical quizbowl style. You can use them for practice with both your math class and your quizbowl team. Create more questions by changing the numbers in the Word file we send you and just keeping the wording the same. Each Common Core set can be used by all the teachers at one school. We have sets for grades 4-8, but the 6th-grade set can also be used with 7th and 8th graders because questions at the 6th-grade level do appear even in 8th-grade quizbowl tournaments. How embarrassing would it be for your 8th-grade math expert to miss a 6th-grade math question?

Plus, even in high school events, basic arithmetic, probability, algebra and geometry from middle school do still come up quite a lot. How much more embarrassing would it be for your 11th-grade math expert to miss a 7th-grade math question?