Transitioning from Middle School Quiz to A League

One of the most challenging feats facing a young quizzer is the transition from Novice to A. Many quizzers that are strong, even dominant, in Novice get to A and fall apart. Some struggle for a long time before the transition becomes comfortable. While there will always be a period of adjustment for any quizzer, there are things you can do to help ease the pain of transition.c

The first thing to understand is the most important difference between A and Novice isn’t the length of the material, it’s the speed of the game. Most Novice quizzers aren’t used to seeing every question interrupted, let alone nailed very early. For all but the very top Novice quizzers, interrupting is a skill they are just trying out. Often they have very little idea how to consistently apply the rules of questions to make early hits.

To combat this, I would recommend making sure that your new A quizzers get a chance to see some high quality A quizzing before they start. Ideally, they can attend Nationals or a Pre-Nats tournament to see some of the best quizzing. Being able to see the speed up close and demystifying the interruption process is the first step.

In addition, from the first practice, you need to challenge these quizzers to fly on every question. They need to be pushed to interrupt early on every question. It’s going to take a lot of time, but you can’t afford to have them let every question go to the last word. Interruption is everything.

The other obvious difference is the length of the material. Fortunately, Mark is only 672 verses, so it’s not a killer. In fact, it’s a little shorter than the two Corinthian epistles we’ll be studying next year. Some people say that gospels are easier to memorize than epistles, but don’t put too much stock in that. It really depends on the individual quizzer.

The best way to help quizzers master more material than they are accustomed to is to start them a little earlier. I would start them around the beginning of July and put them on a graduated memorization schedule. If they are only used to doing 4 or 5 verses per day, they aren’t going to be able to jump to 8 or 9 a day in one step. Start them at 5 a day, and after they get the first couple chapters under their belts, step them up to 6 or 7. Continue this approach until you get them where they need to be.

The key here is to make sure you know when you have to hit checkpoints for the total material. Make sure they have finished the right chapters for the league matches and tournaments. Avoid skipping chapters to be picked up later at all costs. Build a master schedule and stick with it. It also helps to build in breaks where you can on new memorizing. As there is time, let them have a day or two to just review and get their chapters sharp. The best time for this is before tournaments.

A few other tips for the MSQ to A transition

  • Let quizzers go when they are ready. If a seventh or eighth grade quizzer has the ability, there’s no reason to hold them back. If they reach freshman year and they aren’t there yet, give them a year (or half of one) in B-league to work it out.
  • Don’t be afraid to push them a little. A-league quizzing is supposed to be tough. Coaches and quizzers in A are far more aggressive than in Novice, and they need to be able to perform under pressure.
  • Give them as much as they can handle. If a young quizzer needs to start as a 10-point specialist, that’s fine. If they are the best you’ve got, and they can handle it, encourage them to attack the higher point values. I have seen young quizzers do some amazing things.