How do I interrupt questions?

Interrupting questions is one of the biggest challenges for new quizzers. Unlike JBQ, you no longer have a list of the questions to be asked. The best way to learn how to interrupt questions is to listen to questions. Some writers have specific patterns they use. In general, questions are written today so as not to make it difficult to finish the question if you choose to interrupt it in a good spot. Some quizzers learn techniques such as “Hit on the second word” for certain types of questions. If that’s the pattern the writer uses then you can take advantage of that, but the real rule should always be “Hit the question when you know how to finish it”. Eventually, you learn to anticipate keywords, but to start off with, just hit where you have an idea of how to finish the question.

Before getting to specific techniques, there are four guidelines that you must always follow when completing an interrupted question.

  1. You must demand the same answer

    For instance, the question “What does one of you say?” is different from “What does one of you do?” because the second question requires the word “said” while the second does not.

  2. You must agree with the introductory remarks

    If your completion asks two questions and the question is not labeled a two-part question, you are wrong. At first, you may have difficulty remembering the introductory remarks. You can overcome this by learning to mark your fingers. For me, right hand was for multiple part questions, left hand was for multiple part answers, my left pinky represented “Give a Complete Answer”, a right pinky represented “Scripture Text Question” and so on. Find something that works for you. That way you will never again hit a two part question and forget to ask two questions. Once the “part answer” gets beyond five, you can no longer use your hand and you will just have to remember, but that’s usually not hard with large answers.

  3. You must not contain incorrect information

    For instance, if you question says that Apollos was “our brother” instead of Sosthenes, it is incorrect. This seems like it would be impossible to violate, but when you “cover your bases” (which we will talk about later), you have to throw lots of information into your question.

  4. You must ask the same basic question, though not necessarily in the same words

    If you look in the rules, there is a long note following this rule that explains in some more detail what the “same basic question” is. We’ll discuss this more later.

Suppose that I ask the following 10-point question with no introductory remarks:

Who was called to be an apostle?

Certainly it is impossible to finish this question before the word “called”. The word “called” is a keyword in this question. This means that usually a writer will not include a word like that unless it is straight out of the Scripture. By looking up the word “called” in your concordance, you will see that it appears in 15 places. If you hit the question on “Who was called”, there are several ways to finish it from chapter 1, chapter 7 or chapter 15. If you find yourself in a situation like this, you should usually go with the first question to come to your mind. Your instincts will prove accurate most of the time. A good writer will have already seen that a quizzer might get “burned” by hitting there, so they will either narrow it down to chapter one or to the untitled section. Every other instance of the word “called” in chapter 1 has a plural answer, so all of those possible questions would start with “Who were”.

Some questions might provide you with a reference. Consider the following 10 point question with no introductory remarks:

According to First Corinthians 1:5, in whom have you been enriched?

This question can be interrupted on the word “in”. There are lots of ways to complete this if you hit on the reference, so writers typically make it so that the question is obvious by the first word after the reference. Looking at the verse, you might notice that the word “in” appears four times in this verse. However, the only other possible questions from that verse that begin with the word “in” are “in what have you been enriched” and “in all of what have you been enriched”. The first would be either a complete answer or a three part answer and the second would be a two part answer. If the question has any other introductory remark besides “Give a Complete Answer”, you can usually interrupt on the reference. There is only one good “Two Part Answer” in this verse and even if there were two, the writer would tend to shy away from asking a question that forces quizzers to have to guess.

If a 20 or 30 point question is labeled “Give A Complete Answer”, you should try to find an answer that has multiple clauses and that seems the appropriate length. An answer that is only four words long is not likely to be asked as a 20 or 30. For instance, if you interrupt a 20 point complete answer on, “According to First Corinthians 1:9”, the most logical way to complete the question is “Who is faithful?” as it demands most of the verse.

Scripture text questions are almost always interruptable by the first word of the actual Scripture text. Sometimes you can hit them earlier.

Suppose you interrupt a question and all you have heard is the following:

Whose household…

Ignore for the moment that there are two mentions of the word “household” in chapter 1. The answer to this question comes from 1 Corinthians 1:11, but how are you to know whether the question is “Whose household is mentioned?” or “Whose household informed Paul that there were quarrels among the Corinthians?” Those are NOT the same basic question. The way that good quizzers get around this is to complete the question “is mentioned that is also the same household that informed Paul that there were quarrels among the Corinthians?” Here, no matter what the question is, you are correct. Everything in your question is correct information, so in the worst case scenario, you can contest that you are still correct. However, most quizmasters know the material well enough to rule you correct right away, and even those who don’t will look it up in their Scripture Portions. The more information you throw into your question the better.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to interrupting and completing. When you are in practice and someone hits a question in a good spot and completes it, ask them how they did it. If you have an experienced coach, ask him to stop reading at the point where he thinks the question can be completed.