|President or CEO||Bob Pierce|
Answers Plus (A+) is a question writing company based in Breese, Illinois. Until 2000, it wrote questions for the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championship Series. The company was founded and is run by Robert Pierce in the fall of 1989, and originally was marketed as a training program for high school quizbowl coaches. A pioneer in the use of the internet, the company's website is: www.quizbowl.com. For a time, the company also owned the rights to www.geography.com, but that domain has long since been sold for a lot of money. They also own www.pyramidquestions.com.
The company specializes in short "buzzer beater" questions, and (especially in computation) patterned bonuses where a single skill is repeated three-five times.
The contract with the IHSA State Series called for the company to provide questions, gratis, in return for retaining the rights to resell the questions. As the official provider, and in an era before there were many other question writing companies, especially given Illinois' unique question requirements, the company held a virtual monopoly on question sales in Illinois.
One of the few scandals that ever hit Illinois Scholastic Bowl was the time Answers Plus provided questions to a tournament at Northern Illinois University. After the second round, a team with a first round bye admitted to having heard these questions in the previous year's State Series. Almost as scandalous was the fact that many other teams would have heard these questions, and never acknowledged same.
Complaints about question quality and the complete correctness of answers were an annual event at the IHSA Advisory Committee meetings. Finally, the Executive Director felt that something needed to be done. Despite many letters to the company asking for changes, the letters were often unanswered. When Tom Egan proposed the start of a question writing group to write the questions for the IHSA, The IHSA decided it was better to pay a couple of thousand dollars for decent questions than for Answers Plus questions. The IHSA refused to renew its contract. The company soon after lost the contract for the Illinois Masonic State Tournament.
While still retaining some popularity with conferences downstate, Answers Plus began a decline in Illinois. After 2007, NAQT finally made headway even with some downstate conferences which further cut into Answers Plus business.
For many years after losing the IHSA and Masonic contracts, Answers Plus would send out advertisements selling an "Illinois State" series in its annual mailing. Some coaches feel this is weasley advertising, as it implies usage in an Illinois State playoff series, while in fact the company no longer wrote for any statewide playoff series.
His website claims to have written for the Missouri State Tournament in 1992, and for a Michigan State Tournament sponsored by Michigan State University as recently as 2005.
The following are a sample of their questions, taken from their "Free High School Questions" set advertised on its website:
- Who wrote the following words? “At the time of Billy Budd’s arbitrary enlistment in the Bellipotent, that ship was on her way to join the Mediterranean fleet.” (Herman Melville)
- Which U.S. state legislature is the only unicameral legislature in the United States? (Nebraska)
- What is the eccentricity of a circle? (zero)
Pierce was also an early master of URLs, and is the current owner of www.usgeography.com where he sells prep material for various geography bees. His main website is www.quizbowl.com.
As of 2017, it is not known if Answers Plus continues to write scholastic bowl questions. While the website for quizbowl.com still maintains the A+ Answers Plus header, and there is still a page with some links, most of the energy seems to be diverted to a company called 'Global Press, Inc., which appears to be geared toward geography competition preparation.