When I played College Bowl back in the day, I often wondered how to get better quicker. Certainly, you need to read a lot, and taking notes and keeping up with recent events helped (a good strategy even now). But those take SO LONG…
After many people asking me how to get better at quizbowl, and only being able to give them the advice above, I thought about sports. Every year, you hear of someone who, a year ago, barely made the JV team. This year, they’re all-League. Why? It wasn’t just that they worked hard, but they also worked smart. Coaches in sports know what to tell their players to get good fast: run a lot, eat better, study the playbook, and so on.
There had to be something similar for quizbowl. And yet, there wasn’t.
Over a period of time, and with some inspiration, I have developed the structure for Fact Mountain apps. As far as I can tell, it’s still the best way to help you get better, faster, at quizbowl. The clues in each app are generated by someone who knows quizbowl and really speed up the process of learning the quizbowl-relevant stuff from a 500-page textbook or from a survey course in literature or art.
You can play the app as a pyramid quizbowl game (one clue at a time, from harder to easier), or as a set of flash cards that can be used by anyone from total beginner to an expert who needs a challenge. You can also pick any answer in the set and study just the clues for that answer. Many clues have hyperlinks that allow even deeper study; for example, the literature apps link you to Project Gutenberg and allow you to read most of the works for free on your device.
If you’re trying to get better at quizbowl, try a Fact Mountain apps for iOS or Android. Our recommendations for how to best use each app are in the instructions, and (based on my kids’ experience at the National History Bee finals), the apps work. All the apps now have a “freemium” version so you can try them out with a few clues before deciding whether to buy the app.