The tossup/bonus format is the most common format used in both high school and collegiate quizbowl. In this format, the game consists of the reading of tossup questions which either team can buzz in on. The team which answered the tossup correctly receives a bonus question, which they control. If neither team answers a particular tossup, then the match goes on to the next cycle and the next tossup is read - this means that one fewer bonus question gets used.
Usually, games in the tossup-bonus format are untimed, and a set number of tossups are read with their corresponding bonuses before the game is ended and the team with more points is declared the winner. The standard used by ACF, HSAPQ, PACE, and many other question sets is the reading of 20 tossup-bonus cycles, in which case the format is sometimes called the 20/20 format. Some local high school and middle school tournaments use a different number of questions. The tossup-bonus format can also be played timed, in which case the expiration of a clock determines how many tossup-bonus cycles are read in each half of the game.
Hilariously, CBI once claimed a legal trademark on the tossup-bonus format.
- See: tossups
Tossup questions are read to both teams; an individual must buzz in and answer the tossup correctly for their team to receive points for their team.
In the tossup-bonus format, all buzzing on tossups is entirely individual; players are not allowed to confer to answer a tossup, either by speaking to or writing notes for a teammate. If neither team answers a particular tossup, the moderator states the answer and moves on to the next tossup (this is referred to as a question "going dead").
- See: bonuses
A team which answers a tossup correct receives a corresponding bonus read only to them.
In contrast to tossups, bonuses are team-oriented and conferring is not only allowed but encouraged. The standard format for bonuses has an easy part, a medium part, and a hard part (not necessarily in that order); each is worth 10 points.