Trivia, brain teasers, quiz questions, multiple choice trivia questions, call them what you will but if they’ve got personality, intrigue and challenge then they’re perfect to sit down with some friends for an hour or two on a quiet evening. It’s the best of all worlds – some general knowledge that may come in handy some time, a few laughs at your mates’ expense and some time to yourself to chill out on your own. This is not only about the fun but there are prizes involved too.
Choose your topic
If you want to be a trivia champ, the first thing to do is choose your topic. And don’t think you can just go online and find a random category and win. The best categories are the ones that interest you the most.
Most of the questions in a quiz bowl tournament will not be that hard. You can usually figure them out with a little bit of effort, and even if you’re stuck, the other team will probably struggle too.
The problem is that there are often one or two really hard questions per round, and if you get one of them, it’s game over.
This is where knowing your topic comes in. The best way to deal with really hard questions is to avoid them entirely. And the best way to avoid them is to know what they are. If you know that cosine means one thing in math and something else in trigonometry, you can eliminate half the answer choices on any question about cosines.
So if you are going up against teams from schools with better players — which means most of them — you have to be an expert on some obscure topic relevant to their strengths, like maybe the early twentieth-century or something.
Create each question
The most important step is to make your own questions, rather than adopting someone else’s questions, which you don’t know as well. Most pub quizzes consist of one set of questions bought from a quiz company, and the contestants who win those quizzes tend to be trivia buffs who already know those sets of questions.
A few years ago I was inspired by a friend’s success in a local pub quiz to start a weekly trivia night at a bar in Brooklyn. I decided that if I used someone else’s quiz, I would never have the fun that comes from making up my own questions. And so it turned out: within a few months we had more people showing up than any other weekly event in Brooklyn, and we also won the local pub quiz competition every week.
The secret wasn’t so much choosing interesting or tricky questions as being familiar enough with each subject area to be able to write twenty or thirty original questions about it.
Just make sure you are corresponding to the right answer.
It is important to distinguish between the right answer and the right answer. Most of the time, when you don’t know something and someone gives you an answer, it is one of the latter rather than the former.
Read more: Why and how to prepare for UCAT
Let’s say we are at a party and someone asks, “What African country has the highest percentage of people living in poverty?” This is a hard question that you probably don’t know how to answer, but luckily it is one that you can look up. The answer turns out to be Malawi.
If later in the party someone asks, “What African country has the highest percentage of people living in wealth?” you will think back to your earlier research and come up with the answer: Malawi.
But this is wrong! It is not Malawi; it is Nigeria (or maybe Burundi or Rwanda). It has nothing to do with whether people live in poverty; it has to do with whether they live in wealth. A better way to phrase your earlier research would have been: “I’m pretty sure that Malawi has one of the highest percentages of people living in poverty.” This formulation allows for further research—it tells us what we should look up next time—and it also avoids getting us into trouble later on.