User:Gregory Gauthier/Comparison of quiz bowl formats

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NOTE: This page was contributed by Gregory Gauthier (as RJaguar3) on Wikipedia in September 2009. Wikipedian Prisencolinensinainciusol rewrote the first paragraph, but the rest of the article is by Gauthier.

The following is a comparison of different quiz bowl formats. There are four major academic quiz bowl: Academic Competition Federation (ACF), College Bowl Incorporated (CBI), Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), and National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT).

Player eligibility and team composition

Format Number of team members[pe 1] Credit hours needed for eligibility Maximum years of eligibility Campus Tournament required Graduate student restrictions Substitution allowed in-game
ACF 1–6[1]Template:Rp 1[1]Template:Rp no maximum No None[1]Template:Rp At half and before overtime, and players may enter if a team starts shorthanded[1]Template:Rp
CBI 3–5[2]Template:Rp 3[2]Template:Rp[pe 2] 6[2]Template:Rp Yes[2]Template:Rp at most 1 per team[2]Template:Rp No, excepting "incapacitating illness or injury"[2]Template:Rp
HCASC 3–4[3]Template:Rp 7[3]Template:Rp[pe 2] 4[3]Template:Rp Yes[3]Template:Rp No grad students allowed[3]Template:Rp No
NAQT 1 or more[4]Template:Rp 3[5]Template:Rp[pe 3] no maximum (Div. I)
4 (Div. II)[6]
No No restrictions in Div. I; prohibited in Undergraduate[5]Template:Rp and Div. II[6] At half and before overtime, or during a timeout[4]Template:Rp

Player eligibility notes

  1. All formats have teams of four players playing at a time; this column refers to the maximum roster size and (where applicable) the minimum team size to avoid disqualification
  2. 2.0 2.1 Or fewer with registrar verification that a lower number of credit hours will earn a degree.
  3. Or be making progress towards a degree with pre-approval from NAQT.

Match format

All four formats use the toss-up and bonus format in a game consisting of two equal halves. A team that correctly answers a toss-up question receives 10 points and the opportunity to answer a bonus question for a stated number of points. An incorrect interrupt by the first team to signal incurs a 5 point penalty; there is no penalty if the question is complete or the second team interrupts incorrectly.

In all four formats, only the team that answers the toss-up correctly may answer the corresponding bonus; the opposing team may not receive points.

Format Number of toss-ups and bonuses per packet Time limit per half Powers Bonus value Overtime rules
ACF 20[1]Template:Rp none No 30[1]Template:Rp 1 toss-up; +10 or −5 ends the game[1]Template:Rp
CBI and HCASC 28 toss-ups[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp
25 bonuses[7][8]
7 min. (CBI Campus Tournament)
8 min. (Regionals, Nationals and HCASC Campus Tournament)[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp[mf 1]
No[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp 20, 25, or 30[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp 1 toss-up; +10 or −5 ends the game[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp
NAQT 26 (Div. I)
24 (Div. II)[9]
9 min.[4]Template:Rp[mf 2] Yes[4]Template:Rp[mf 3] 30[4]Template:Rp 3 toss-ups with no bonuses; if still tied, additional toss-ups are read with the next +15, +10, or −5 ending the game[4]Template:Rp

Match format notes

  1. If all the questions are used prior to expiration of time, more questions may be obtained from other packets. (Rule 10)
  2. The game ends early if all the questions are used. (F.2)
  3. Each question contains a power mark. If a player signals before the first syllable after the power mark is read and answers correctly, that player earns 15 points instead of the normal 10.

Toss-up execution

On toss-ups, the first player to signal gets the chance to answer. A player may signal during the reading of the question (in which case the moderator stops immediately) or up to a specified time limit after the question has been read completely. No conferral is allowed on toss-ups. The player must answer within a certain time limit after being recognized. In some cases, the player must wait to be recognized before answering, with an answer before recognition counting as incorrect.

Format Question time limit Must be recognized Time to begin answering Conferral definition
ACF 5 sec.[1]Template:Rp No[1]Template:Rp 5 sec.[1]Template:Rp "verbal, written or analogous communication among team members that can convey information pertinent to what the possible answer to the question is."[1]Template:Rp
CBI and HCASC 3 sec.[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp Yes[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp immediately[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp "obvious non-verbal cues"[2]Template:Rp[3]Template:Rp
NAQT 3 sec.[4]Template:Rp No[4]Template:Rp 2 sec.[4]Template:Rp verbal or written communication, or communication that can "convey any information about the substance of the answer"[4]Template:Rp


All formats have a distribution: a proportion of questions from various disciplines that will appear in a packet or a tournament. While all formats have a majority of questions academic in nature, there are differences in the exact composition of a packet.

(All values in the table below are percentages.)

Format Literature History Science Fine Arts Religion, Mythology, and Philosophy Social Sciences Geography Current Events General Knowledge Pop culture and sports Special
ACF[10] 20.8 20.8 20.8 12.5 12.5 4.2 4.2 0.0 0.0 4.2[d 1] 0.0
CBI[7][d 2] 11.3 11.3 11.3 5.7 5.7[d 3] 5.7[d 4] 9.4 5.7 11.3 15.1 7.5[d 5]
HCASC[8][d 6] 8.9 12.5 12.5 5.4 5.4[d 3] 5.4[d 4] 8.9 5.4 8.9 14.2 12.5[d 7]
NAQT[9] 16.1 19.1 19.1 8.1 7.2 4.6 5.3 6.0 5.8[d 8] 8.8 0.0

Distribution notes

  1. The "your choice" question in each packet is listed here.
  2. Many CBI category distributions are given in ranges; midpoints are used where ranges are given, but since the total number of questions does not equal the sum of the midpoints of all the ranges, the percentage distributions do not add exactly to 100%.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Religion, mythology, and ancient history
  4. 4.0 4.1 Includes business
  5. Multi-cultural and women's studies
  6. This uses only the toss-up distribution, as the toss-up distribution and bonus distribution are identical, and the sum of the midpoints of the ranges of each category equals 28 exactly.
  7. African-American history and culture
  8. Comprises miscellaneous and foreign language


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Template:Cite web
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Template:Cite web
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Template:Cite web
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Template:Cite web
  5. 5.0 5.1 Template:Cite web
  6. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite web
  7. 7.0 7.1 Template:Cite web
  8. 8.0 8.1 Template:Cite web
  9. 9.0 9.1 Template:Cite web
  10. Template:Cite web