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Getting Started as a New Player

Selecting a Subject Area To Focus On -

Selecting a Subject Area to Focus On - Selecting a subject to focus on is a relatively easy thing to do. Keeping in mind that you can be a decent player by knowing one subject thoroughly, to be great, you need to diversify to at least two subjects. Trying to learn all five subjects by yourself is pointless. You have teammates. Use them! Once you are a top five player in your state in an area and want to add a third or fourth subject, go for it. But until then let's keep it to one or two. So, what area should you choose to work on? The first thing to keep in mind is that you will be working quite a bit in the area you decide to make your own. Be sure that's it is something you enjoy. If you have no interest in an area, you're not going to put the time and effort into it that you should. Next, what does your team need? If you have five great math players, why spend hours learning what others already know. Sometimes, the fastest way to start varsity is by becoming an expert in your team's weakness. Obviously if you have a strength yourself, take advantage of it. These are the various things you need to think about when considering what subject area you will be spending the bulk of your time on.

Where to Start Within Your Subject - The five subject areas I will focus on here are Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Humanities.

  • Language Arts - Begin by learning who wrote what! While it is nice to know the names of all main characters, the plot, and the context in which it was written, the most important thing you need to know about a work of literature is who wrote it. When you are getting started, you will be able to answer many questions just by knowing who the author is. Find a lists of important literary works and go to work. We offer one here that was built with quick recall/quiz bowl in mind, but there are many others out there. Once you have between a thousand and fifteen hundred works/authors memorized begin learning main characters and plots of major works. Also, take notes during quick recall practice as you will learn a lot along these lines just from hearing questions.
  • Mathematics - Some teams have a math coach, but not many can afford to pay for another individual to advise in a single subject area. If you are not afforded this luxury, the first thing you should do is borrow a quick recall packet from your head coach. Teach yourself (or ask someone else if needed) how to do each problem within the packet. Then, ask a math teacher, or even better, a more experienced teammate to create five to ten questions of the same format of each question in the packet. Once you have those down, move on to the next packet. You will find that by the time you reach packet three or four, things start to repeat themselves. There is a limited number of question formats that are difficult enough yet quick enough to warrant being asked in a legitimate competition. This is why the best math player I ever coached, became so in only two to three months as a freshman. Written assessment mathematics is much more difficult. I would give you similar advice on this front. Find as many tests as you can and learn every problem inside and out. To get good at these, you have to learn "the trick" - the fast way to do a problem. There are many problems that can be done by anyone in five minutes, but that is not a good average pace if you want to do well on the test.
  • Science - The first thing I recommend learning in science is famous scientists and their accomplishments. When reading what they did, look up any term or expression that you're not familiar with. We offer a multi-disciplinary list of scientists in our store, however you can always search for a list online. I have found that much of what you will find is isolated by discipline (i.e. biology, geology, astronomy, etc.). Do not leave a discipline out. Next, look for a list of terms in each subject area. Science is a difficult area of study because there are so many different areas to learn, however there are many points to be had by someone with a true expertise. The Science Bowl website has a collection of multiple choice quick recall questions that can help you build knowledge. For Elementary school questions, click here. I would not rely on them to improve your quick recall speed. For that, seek out questions of the format you'll be playing in.
  • Social Studies - There are two major areas of social studies, geography and history. Threre are other minor areas such as psychology and economics, but when you are just getting started, focus on the areas that are going to score you the most points. Begin by staring at a map for a couple days. There are three things you should be looking at. First, the names and locations of countries. Notice which other countries they border. Second, as go along, learn the capitals of each. Lastly, knowing the geographical features, their locations, and what nations consider the feature important. Once you know where things are, you can learn what happened. I find that the best way to study history is to read through a timeline. This allows you to find out the major events that took place and they players in those events. The timeline aspect of it helps you put events in order. Start at the beginning of the timeline and work your way forward to that you get a feel for that order. Studying timelines consists of more than just reading them. Have someone question you on every aspect of the event. For example, "In 1789, Virginian George Washington became the first President of the Untied States." A very simple statement in a timeline. From this, you can ask who became the first president, what year George Washington became the first president, and what state he was from. that's not to say what country he became the president of, which will come into play more on foreign leaders. When you want to break away from history study, learn the major economists and economics terms. Psychology is asked about sparingly and should be the last thing you touch on.
  • Humanities - The three most important parts of humanities are art, music, and dance. This is the order that you should study them. However, in this subject, do not feel like you have to exhaust art, before studying music and dance. To the contrary, you should probably study one list of artwork, then a list of music. Dancers are a seperate list on themselves and you should try to work on them in between a couple of art and music lists. We have lists on all three of these in our store and on our program. After learning these lists, buy an artworks book or start searching the web for these major works. When trying to go beyond the basics of who painted/sculpted what, you need to know what it looks like so that when it is being described in a question you will be a step beyond the guy/gal who stopped at the lists. But again, do this AFTER you have learned the lists!