How to turn a good high school team into a nationally elite high school team
This article is intended to help teams who are already playing well (assume 18-20 PPB on regular question sets) become even stronger and prepare for runs at nationals.
1. Read High-Level Older Questions
Previous quizbowl national championships (the PACE NSC is always publicly posted every year and previous NAQT HSNCT sets can be purchased from NAQT) make for excellent practice material at this level. Harder tournaments like the Harvard Fall Tournament and Yale's BHSAT are also quite good to review as well. Reading these questions in practice and then again on your own will help you build up a set of potential answerlines and clues that form the foundation for higher-level high school quizbowl.
2. Read (and play, to the extent allowed) College Questions
Reading college quizbowl questions, especially those from previous years' tournaments, is particular important as the clue treadmill means that clues that are used at the college level one year may next year be used at the high school level. While teams may want to first focus on mastering the high school-level questions, looking at college questions in the area of one's specialty (potentially through QuizDB searches) may be a good idea. Many of the best high school teams also seek out opportunities to challenge college teams, though eligibility rules about this vary by tournament (simply attending a nearby college quizbowl team's practice may be helpful in some cases).
3. Compete at Tournaments Against High-Level Opponents
For teams who are already in regions with many strong teams, this is likely par for the course. If you are in a less competitive region though, take every opportunity that you can to travel and compete against other high-level teams. Playing better teams will help your team get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses and expose you to more realistic gametime situations. It can also provide good motivation for teams to continue to improve.
4. Ensure Coverage of All Subjects
At this level, you want to make sure that your team has no "gaps" in its knowledge. Even the smallest subcategories within the NAQT or mACF distribution need to be covered here, ideally with at least one team member seeking to gain deep knowledge and specialize in that area. Be sure to review the distribution for each national tournament carefully and make sure to plug any holes that practices or playing against other top teams might reveal.
5. Write Questions
This is likely to be particularly helpful as a way for team members to guide their study on their own and to think like quizbowl question writers and editors in how they learn about specific subjects or potential answerlines. Teams may also seek to write their own tournaments or collaborate with other teams on tournaments as a way of learning additional material and getting a clear overview of the entire canon.
Teams may also be interested in this guide to specific question sets to study.