Starting a Quiz Bowl Team

NOTE: In addition to this page, we recommend reading NAQT’s guides for new teams, as well as this article by Greater Pennsylvania Quiz Bowl

Starting a team is easy! Just get some interested players together, find some packets to practice on, and find out when the next tournament is.

If your school already has a Knowledge Bowl team, it’s even easier to get started with quiz bowl—just read some quiz bowl questions at practice! We’ve written a summary of the differences between the two formats.

If you have any questions, please contact us at We’re happy to help, and if possible, we can send out a current player to help you get set up.


The packet archives is a virtually unlimited source of free, high-quality practice material for all levels of quiz bowl. This guide provides an excellent (albeit slightly dated) overview of various sets’ difficulty.

NAQT also sells their old questions as practice material.

New teams should start off practicing on novice-level packets before moving on to harder ones. For high school teams, we recommend the SCOP Novice sets. For college teams, we recommend Collegiate Novice, ACF Fall, Delta Burke, and EFT. All of these sets are available for free on the archives.


High school and middle school teams generally need a teacher or parent to handle administrative tasks, coordinate transportation, and take responsibility for the players.

Many college teams entirely are student-run, but a faculty advisor can help with many administrative aspects of running a team.


While not strictly necessary, a buzzer system is highly recommended for any team. Buzzers make practice more lively and more like an actual tournament match. In addition, quiz bowl tournaments offer discounts for teams that bring buzzers.

Here are some points to keep in mind when buying a buzzer system:

  • Many tournaments require wired systems and will not give discounts for wireless ones (due to the potential for lag).
  • Avoid systems without lights on the individual buzzers. These require the moderator to verbally recognize each player before they answer, which slows down games.
  • Battery powered systems may fail during tournaments; it’s better to buy a plug-in one.

The most commonly recommended system is the Anderson Officiator. It’s easy to set up, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.

If your team has difficulty affording a buzzer system, check out Matt’s Buzzers.


COQB keeps an list of all upcoming tournaments in Colorado. Announcements can also be found on the forums and tournament database.

If you want to do well in your first tournament, you’ll need to practice. Specifically, you’ll need to practice on quiz bowl questions. The questions used in quiz bowl are different than the ones found in other formats like Knowledge Bowl or National Science Bowl (though many teams report that preparing for quiz bowl has helped them in other competitions).

Greater Pennsylvania Quiz Bowl has a useful guide for teams attending their first tournament.


Fortunately, quiz bowl far is cheaper than most interscholastic competitions. Most tournaments have affordable entrance fees, and many will offer discounts to new teams. However, as expenses add up over time (especially for teams that wish to attend national tournaments), many teams will need to fundraise. For experienced teams, hosting a tournament is a great way to do this. In addition, many colleges (and possibly some high schools) allow student groups to apply for funding.