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A question in quizbowl typically refers to one of three things: a tossup, a bonus, or a single part of a bonus. Together, they comprise the tossup/bonus format, in which the game is structured as a series of tossup/bonus cycles where the successful answering of a tossup will award a team the corresponding collaborative bonus.

Questions consist of clues which test the knowledge of the players on a team.


See: tossups

A tossup (or toss-up) is a question, usually containing several sentences, that is read out loud for both teams to attempt to answer. During a game, any player who believes they know the answer to a tossup can use their buzzer to interrupt the question and deliver an answer in an attempt to score points for their team. Tossup questions are the staple of gameplay for virtually all contemporary quizbowl.

"Good quizbowl" advocates for tossups in pyramidal style, in which a question begins with more in-depth knowledge about the answer and progresses towards easier clues, the intent being that more knowledgeable teams should answer before less knowledgeable teams.

In Britain, tossups may be called "starters."


See: bonuses

A bonus is a set of several questions that the whole team can work together to answer. Bonuses are given as a reward to the team that answered a tossup immediately beforehand. A bonus is typically worth 30 points, and they have been standardized as three-part questions whose parts are worth 10 points each.

Other forms of question

The NHBB format includes lightning rounds, in which teams have a minute to answer eight related questions in sequence before it bounces to the other team.