Quiz Questions > How to set quiz questions
Here are some tips for setting questions for table quizzes, pub quizzes and the like.
Possible sources for questions include:
- Quiz Questions section of this site
- Quiz books
- Quiz games, such as Trivial Pursuit, QuizUp
- Make up your own questions, using encyclopedias (e.g. Wikipedia), reference books, newspaper websites (for topical questions), etc.
- Ask a friend who is into quizzes to come up with some questions
- Pay for questions - there are a number of companies offering questions for a fee, just search for "buy quiz questions" or similar
Try to use a mix of sources. Be wary of taking all your questions from one book/website, as a contestant may be familiar with it.
Remember, old quiz books/games might contain out-of-date answers. Check answers against a reliable up-to-date source.
VARIETY OF QUESTIONS / FORMATS
Have themed rounds of questions, to differentiate one round from the next, for example:
- Sport / Entertainment / People / Science & Nature / Geography / History / Arts & Literature / etc. Themes can be quite loose. For example, if the theme is "Sport" it does not have to all pure sport questions (which can be a turn-off for people who are not into sport). You could ask for example a question about the spouse of a famous sportsperson, e.g. Victoria Beckham.
- Picture round - name the famous person / logo / cartoon character / movie
- 'Dingbats' round - e.g. GR 12" AVE = One foot in the grave
- Music/audio round - e.g. name the song / song played backwards / band / composer / person speaking
- Speed rounds - e.g. teams have 2 minutes to write down as many, say, countries beginning with "C" as they can think of
Have a mix of difficulty levels. It can be tricky to get the difficulty level right, so for each round have a mix or harder, easier and middling questions. This will ensure there's something for everyone.
Don't make questions overly obscure. Even for hard questions, choose questions that all teams can at least have a guess at a right answer.
Make questions more fun/easier by including one or more clues in the question. For example, instead of asking "Who wrote 'Little Women'", ask "Which author, whose middle name is a month of the year, wrote 'Little Women'" (Answer: Louisa May Alcott)
Include some topical questions based on recent news / current affairs, including events on the day of the quiz.
Use a variety of question formats, for example:
- Multi-point questions - Give 1 point for each part of the answer, for example:
Name the last 3 FIFA World Cup (soccer) winning teams (in any order)
Teams can give up to 3 answers, 1 point per correct answer, plus bonus 4th point if you get all three right. Another variation on this is for Q1 in a round to have one answer for one point, Q2 two answers for two points, and so on.
- Multiple choice questions
ACCURACY OF QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Be clear about what is being asked, for example:
- level of detail required in answer
- if asking WHERE something happened, do you require the city or country
- if asking WHEN something happened, do you require the day, month or year
- is first name required or is surname alone sufficient
- are you asking for the actor's or character's name
Make sure answers are correct, particularly if you got the question/answer from a less than reliable source (e.g. a random website or out-of-date quiz book). Get another person to check the questions/answers for correctness against one or more up-to-date reliable sources (e.g. online encyclopedia)
Make sure there is only ONE correct answer. For example, don't ask "What is the capital of South Africa?" as it has three capitals.
Note down any likely wrong answers. If there are answers that are definitely NOT right (but likely to be given), then include these answers - and why they are wrong - on the answer sheet for your MC, so they can deal with queries & objections.
Make sure quizmaster/MC knows how to pronounce foreign words, etc. in questions and answers. If words are hard to pronounce, include a pronounciation guide for the quiz master.
Don't ask trick questions, or questions that deceive or deliberately mislead. You'll just annoy people. That said, if a question does have a trick to it, warn people that they need to answer carefully.
CORRECTING ANSWERS & SCORING
Where necessary, be clear on the answer sheet used by scorers about what IS and IS NOT an acceptable answer, e.g. "USA" is required, "America" is not sufficient.
When correcting, give teams the benefit of the doubt. For example, ignore bad spelling, and if it's a "fun" quiz then give answers that are any way close. There will be less complaints/queries this way.
On the scoreboard display TOTAL team score for each team (e.g. 6 after round 1, 14 after round 2, etc.). Don't just list the individual round scores and leave it to people to calculate totals themselves.
Keep answer sheets grouped by round, in case there is a query about a score in a previous round.
Discourage too many frivolous complaints/queries by requiring a donation to charity (the one benefiting from the quiz, if there is one) for queries, which can be refunded if the complaint is found to be valid.
Have plenty of tie-breaker questions ready. You never know exactly how many you will need.
Choose tie-break questions/format that will quickly determine a winner, for example:
- Choose questions with a numeric answer such as "How tall in metres is the Eiffel Tower" and whichever team is closest is the winner.
- Or ask the tie-breaker question of the team captains and whoever answers first wins (but if they get it wrong they lose).
DECIDE ON QUIZ RULES
Set out any rules for the quiz that the quizmaster/MC can read out before the quiz starts, for example:
- Number of rounds (we suggest between 6 and 10)
- Questions per round (we suggest between 6 and 10)
- Maximum number of people per team (usually around 4-6). and how strict you will be on this.
- No cheating (e.g. smartphones put away, or all put in a clear plasic bag on the table, or ask questions that can't be Googled). Penalty could be disqualification or points deduction. Note: Shorter, quicker rounds will give less time for cheating.
- Surnames or full names? For example if a person's name is asked for, surname alone will suffice, but if the WRONG first name is given, answer will be regarded as WRONG.
- Handicaps: If it's a regular quiz, you might choose to handicap teams who have recently won.
- Quizmaster/MC's decision is final
Quiz books can be a good source of questions, but beware of out of date answers (e.g. world's tallest building)
Accuracy of questions/answers is important. You don't want this to happen...