Concordance Work, Part 1

There are lots of different ways to pull concordance lists. It is important to note that of all the secrets coaches keep, this is probably at the top. At James River, we are no different. We won’t be publishing our list, or our exact methods for creating our list. It should also be noted that, at least in our case, our methods are not always the same every year. These things can change depending on the material being studied and the experience of the quizzers.

So absent an exact roadmap, let me give you some guiding principles for generating your concordance lists.

  1. Make a really big list. Literally, sit down with the concordance and list everything that could be asked. The best way to sort the data is by number of answers (all the 2PAs, 3PAs, etc). This is the “wide-net” approach, but it can be effective.
  2. Spot-pull weekly lists. This is most effective for younger quizzers who may not be able to handle having a lot of things tossed at them at one time. It was how my coach started me out. You basically pull a new list of 10-20 items that you think are likely to be asked and hand them to the quizzer to learn. Be sure to follow up by testing them on it.
  3. Use a former quizzer. If you have access to a former top-level quizzer, you might get them to help you pull together a list. They can be especially helpful at knowing the types of questions that are likely to be asked at Nationals.
  4. Study the writer. Look at the kind of questions the writer has previously asked, and see if there are tendencies you can identify.

A couple of additional tips:

  • Don’t leave this up to the quizzers to do on their own. Some are capable of it, but most are not. Give them materials that they can study, and encourage them to think creatively about additional items that might be asked.
  • Be sure to study Individuals and Geographical Locations. These are almost always a big part of the concordance stuff that is asked.

Concordance material is where coaches earn their money (so to speak). Invest time and energy in this, and with a little trial-and-error, you’ll have your team where they need to be.