Tips for Increasing JBQ Team Proficiency

Preparing for JBQ Quiz by Mastering the Fundamentals

by Paul Markwell / November 27, 2017

Over the years, I’ve discovered some successful ways to make our Junior Bible Quiz teams become more effective and competent during JBQ competition. See if any of these tips can help your team compete in the upcoming year of JBQ competition:

Increasing Speed

For younger teams, use incentives to get them to buzz in faster.  These incentives include:

Silly scoring: Each quizzer gets double the points if they buzz in and answer a question at the break point.  For example, in C League, where all questions are 10 points, give them 20 points for every question answered at the break point and 15 points for every question that is interrupted and answered.

Cups and candy:  During practice have clear, plastic cups filled with candy like M&M's® or Skittles®.  If the JBQers answer a question at the break point, either the quizzer or the whole team gets three pieces of candy.  If they interrupt and answer, it's two candies, and if they simply answer the question, it's one candy. If they get one wrong—especially if they buzz in too early and get one wrong—take away a piece of candy from the entire team. When M&M's®, Skittles® or some other bonus is at stake, quizzers seem to try harder.

For older or experienced quizzers: Have them practice using the quiz box against the perfect or near-perfect quizzer. This requires the question sets used in practice to show the break point.  Of course, the cards in the JBQ Fact-Pak (see JBQ resources) already show the break point.

In practice, have another person with access to the question set, sit on the other team's side with the question set, and buzz in at the break point, or just after the break point. This person is the "perfect quizzer" or "near perfect quizzer." Exactly where that person buzzes in depends on how skilled the JBQ team is. For teams that are seeking state titles, or regional or national births, the "perfect quizzer" literally buzzes in at the break point. The point being taught is that every quizzer must learn to buzz in at the break point to answer a question and get points. Quizzers need to score points to be successful. If a quizzer is unable to score due to lack of speed, it's easy to get discouraged, so teach speed in practice.

The "perfect quizzer" can be the quizmaster, but it's usually better to have a completely different person doing this. If the quizmaster performs this duty, it can affect the way the quizmaster reads, etc. There are parents, however, who can function as quizmaster/perfect quizzer every time they practice with a child and have learned how to do it well.

If you don't have a quiz box to practice with and you're practicing one-on-one, then use a squeeze toy.  

The three steps to quizzing successfully at the regional and national level are:
•  Learn all the questions at the break point.
•  Learn speed using the perfect quizzer.
•  Learn to have control.

Increasing Control

After a JBQ team knows all the questions and has enough speed to buzz in at the break point (or at least buzz in at the 2nd or 3rd syllable of the question and guess), it's time to learn control. Control is learning not to buzz in early when the question has a lot of words or syllables before the break point. These questions are commonly called "long bolds" by national champion coaches. They are questions such as:  
•  "In the Christian's Armor . . ."
•  "Which book of the Bible . . ."
•  "Who was Abraham's . . ."
•  "What do we mean . . ." (20 points)
•  "Which of the Ten Commandments . . . "

In practice, if a quizzer buzzes in too early on a long bold, stop and have the entire team practice buzzing in at the right place four to five times before going on. It's a frustrating, or repetitive process, but it works over time. The idea is this: Before we can go on, we need to do it right five times in a row. Quizzers eventually learn how not to buzz in early on long bolds.

Some coaches even count and predict whether the next question is a "long" or "short" based on the law of averages. For example, about one-third of 30-point questions are "long bolds." If the first two 30-point questions are shorts, it may be a safe bet that the last 30 pointer is a “long.” This may seem silly, but in one season of competition, guessing this correctly on the last 30 pointer was the difference between A League 1st and 2nd place at the Kentucky State Tournament.

Before a match starts, or right after lunch (if there is quizzing after lunch), have the quizzers go through a warm-up list of questions to get their timing down. How much time is spent on this depends on the stamina of the quizzer. Some quizzers need a lot of warm-up time, or they'll quiz out backward the first round. Others need just a little warm-up time, or they'll be worn out soon after the first round. The warm-up list consists of “longs” and “shorts.” When warming up, it's not necessary for the quizzer to answer each question (he/she already knows every question and answer), just that they buzz in at the correct place. If they're too early or two slow, mark the question and go back to it, just like you would if you have bowls and cards and you're teaching them to know all the questions.

When my kids were quizzing, and proficient at the regional and national level, we typically practiced at home, using a quiz box, the JBQ Fact-Pak questions assigned to them, and three bowls. The bowl in the middle contained the questions being asked. The bowl on the right held the questions where the quizzer buzzed in at the break point and answered the questions correctly. The bowl on the left contained the questions answered incorrectly. Once a quizzer gets through the entire bowl in the middle, the bowl on the left becomes the bowl in the middle, and we continued until the quizzer "graduated" from those questions. This is an automatic way for JBQers to work on the questions they need the most help on. A quizzer getting ready for regionals or nationals would "graduate" from their entire assigned bowl of questions about every two days.

Mastering the Fundamentals

While much of this may seem extreme, to me these are the fundamentals of the game, and every game (e.g., basketball, baseball, football) has fundamentals. Mastering the fundamentals is the key to success at the highest levels. Quizzers all need some measure of success so they don't become discouraged and quit.

It may seem like a lot of work, and it IS a lot of work. But working hard to know God's Word backward and forward is work that's worthwhile. The spiritual payoff far exceeds the time spent, and in some cases, I've seen the academic payoff far exceed the time spent.

Section Healthy Kids
Sub-Section JBQ