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Job Description: Quizmaster

The quizmaster is the person responsible for controlling each game and it is essential the quizmaster knows the rules of the contest.

If possible, read the questions prior to the match(s) to familiarize yourself with any unusual pronunciations. If there are words that you have difficulty with, be sure to spell them for the teams when you ask the questions.

As soon as the teams arrive, have them take their places and set their name cards in front of them so that you may easily read them. Check any unusual pronunciations.

Introduce yourself, the judge, timekeeper and scorekeeper. In the first match of the day, it is appropriate to give time to the coaches and players to introduce themselves by saying a few words about his/her year in school, hobbies or interests.

Each game is composed of two 10-minute halves, two one-minute lightning rounds and a short break between.

The match begins with a toss-up question for either team. The first player to buzz-in gets the chance to answer the question, but only after being verbally recognized by the quizmaster. If the player is not recognized by the quizmaster they will get a warning. On the second offense it will be determined an incorrect answer and the team will lose 5 points. It is important that the quizmaster respond as quickly as possible when a team buzzes-in. No one else can answer, and there can be no conferring on either team. A player may buzz-in at any time during the reading of the question to give an answer to the question. If the answer given is wrong, that team loses five points and the opposing team then gets a chance to answer the same question during or after the quizmaster completes the reading of the entire question. Whenever a player correctly answers a toss-up question, that team gets a chance at a bonus question. The team has twenty seconds to buzz-in, indicating their desire to answer a bonus question. Unlike a bonus question, teams may confer in order to come up with one answer.

The team captain must buzz-in prior to the expiration of the allowable twenty seconds. The team captain answers for the team on a bonus question unless the team captain defers to another player. A correct answer adds five points to the team score and there is no loss of points for an incorrect answer to a bonus question.

The pattern of toss-up questions followed by bonus questions continues until the buzzer sounds ending the first half. When the first half ends, and if a team is in the process of answering a bonus question by having already buzzed in, they will have the opportunity to finish answering the question. If the answer is correct, they will also have a chance at the bonus question. This rule also applies at the end of the 2nd round. If neither team has buzzed in prior to the end of the first or second round, the half or game is over.

The team leading after the first round gets the first chance at the Lightning Round. The team trailing must leave the room and be in a location so as not to hear the Lightning Round questions. The Lightning Round is timed for one minute. Only the panelists can participate in the Lightning Round. You should read the questions as fast as possible, while still being understood by the teams. The quizmaster should stay with the same question until a correct answer is given, or until the team captain says pass, at which time you begin reading the next question. There is no loss of points for a wrong answer in the Lightning Round and each right answer gets five points. When the buzzer sounds the Lightning Round is over. A player does not get a chance to finish an answer after the buzzer sounds. At this point, the team that was trailing after round one returns to the room and is asked the same questions as the first team. At the conclusion of the Lightning Round you may call a break for two minutesto allow coaches to make any change they desire among the players such as exchanging panelists and alternates.

The second half is then conducted the same way as the first half.

The game is over when the buzzer sounds ending the second round of ten minutes, or when all toss-up questions have been used. For this reason, if you can see that you will not have enough questions for the ten minute round, begin announcing the question number during the last five to six questions.

The team leading at the end is declared the winner unless there is a tie. At that point a tiebreaker is given. For tiebreaker rules, see Overtime, “ INL Scholastic Tournament Rules,” pg. 4.

If a dispute occurs or you are uncertain whether a team has sufficiently answered a question, you should defer to the judge. The decision of the Judge will be final.

As quizmaster you must be vocal, poised and controlled. To assist the judge, scorekeeper and timekeeper in their responsibilities, it is wise to verbally announce whether each question is a toss-up or bonus, how many points are awarded or lost on each question, and amount of time allowed on each question.

Only the person who pushes their buzzer may give the answer to the toss-up question. An answer given by another team member whether it is correct or incorrect, will not be accepted and the team will be scored with an incorrect answer.

It is the responsibility of the team coach to keep track of the official scoring. They should consciously watch to see that it is always correct. If a mistake is made, then it should be brought to the attention of the quizmaster at the moment it is noted, so that is may be corrected immediately. Any challenge that is raised must occur immediately following the issue being challenged and before the next question is read in its entirety. If no challenges are made throughout the game, the final score displayed at the end of the contest will stand as the official score.


Science Bowl Contacts:

Steve Zollinger, 208-313-4559 Send Email

Brenda Greenhalgh, 208-526-9399 Send Email

Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office