Frequency list

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A frequency list tabulates the number of times that specific topics have appeared in a corpus of quizbowl questions.

Basic frequency lists contain only the name of topics and their frequency. Some frequency lists may have additional information on each topic, such as creators' birth and death dates, country of origin, etc.


Frequency lists provide an advantage over regular list studying because the frequencies give teams a better idea of how important it is to learn each item on the list, and perhaps how important the given works are generally.

Disadvantages of frequency lists include:

  • they may go out of date easily
  • they may misrepresent recent (and thereby important-to-learn) trends in the canon as having the same frequency as older works that are rarely asked anymore
  • they may include non-academic material, such as children's literature in a list of literature
  • they may omit important and frequently-asked works due to inconsistencies in category or topic tagging systems
  • they may incentivize binary association learning or otherwise discourage deeper learning of a topic

List of frequency lists

NAQT has sold frequency lists in various categories, such as Literature, Non-Fiction, music, and Art (all visual).

In December 2011, HSAPQ published a list of 27,000 raw answerlines (and their categories) extracted from the question sets they produced over the course of about 3 years.[1][2]

You can look up "most important <subject matter>" or "100 most famous works of literature" on a search engine to approximate a frequency list.