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- Matches consist of two nine-minute (middle school and high school) or ten-minute (college, including community college) halves (but may end sooner if all the questions available have been exhausted, which is typically a limit of 24 tossup-bonus cycles)
- Four players play at a time
- Matches consist of tossups with powers and interrupt penalties available. These are worth 15 and –5 points, respectively, while non-power correct tossup answers are worth 10 points.
- Correct tossup answers in regulation lead to bonuses comprising three parts worth 10 points each
- Players have 2 seconds to begin answering after they are recognized for buzzing in on a tossup
- There are 3 seconds from the end of reading a tossup until the tossup goes dead. (For computation tossups, it is 10 seconds.)
- Teams have 5 seconds to answer each bonus part; the moderator prompts after 4 seconds. (Occasionally bonuses, especially computation bonuses, may specify a longer time limit.) Bonus parts do not bounce back.
- Each team is allocated one 30-second timeout
- Teams may substitute players at a timeout, at halftime, or before overtime
- If necessary, overtime consists of three tossups that do not lead to bonuses. If the game is still tied after that, it goes into sudden death.
NAQT has made many revisions to the rules since they were first created in 1996. Here is an incomplete list of major changes:
- Eliminating bonuses with configurations other than three parts worth 10 points each (such as 30-20-10 bonuses, "5 points for one correct answer, 10 for two, 20 for three, or 30 for all four," and other schemes). Variable-value bonuses were eliminated c. 1997, while all remaining bonus formats (besides three parts worth 10 points each) were eliminated c. 2014.
- Expanding college play from 9-minute to 10-minute halves
- Eliminating the clock-killing neg and, in general, specifying that the timer shall never end a tossup-bonus cycle
There have also been many small tweaks about protest procedures, answer acceptability, unusual situations, etc.