What You Need To Know About Watching A Bible Quiz

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Bible Quizzing is an amazing program of the United Pentecostal Church International. It is a bit complicated and confusing, though, if you have never seen it in action. I have put together this primer to help first-time viewers understand what’s going on. A secondary benefit is that it can be a source to help new teams get an idea of how the game works. 

The cast of characters:

Most important are the quizzers 18 years old and younger. At any one time there are 2 or 3 quizzers from each of two teams quizzing at the table. There may be up to 2 alternate quizzers waiting behind the table to get put in the game. The team on the left (from the view of the audience) is red, and the team on the right is yellow. Each quizzer has studied and memorized several hundred designated verses verbatim. (The number of verses is determined by which division their experience and age puts them in.) They are able to quote these verses word-for-word and mixed randomly. This skill and knowledge of the material allows them to answer the questions asked during the quiz. The more ambitious quizzers also memorize hundreds of “charts” which are facts such as what 2 verses contain a certain word or what three verses end with the same five-word phrase. 

Each team has one or two coaches who sit behind the quizzers and keep score, follow the material, help with contests, call time-outs, and bite their fingernails. 

The quizmaster reads the questions, states whether the answer is “correct” or “incorrect”, and otherwise runs the quiz. 

The judges follow along with a copy of the questions and confer with the quizmaster about any questionable answers, consider contests, and listen to a recording of what was said by the quizzer.

The scorekeeper, you guessed it, keeps score. Within the last few years most tournaments have begun using a computer program to make this job more automated. The team score is shown. 

There are other positions such as foul judge and recording operator, but these are not necessary to understand at this point. 

The quiz itself:
For Beginner and Jr divisions (up to age 11) each quiz is comprised of 15 questions: 6 ten-point questions, then 6 twenty-point questions, then 3 thirty-point questions. 

For Intermediate and Experienced divisions (ages 12-18) each quiz is comprised of 20 questions: 8 ten point questions, then 9 twenty point questions, then 3 thirty point questions. 

After each question is read, the quizzers have 5 seconds to hit their buzzer and claim the question.

After a quizzer hits their buzzer they have 30 seconds to give the correct answer. 

There are several types of questions. The quizmaster must identify the type of question unless it is a direct question. Some types of questions are:

Direct: a straight up question with one answer.

Quotation: the answer must be quoted word for word with no stumbles, repeated words, etc.

Quotation Completion: the quizmaster starts quoting a verse and the quizzer finishes the verse, word for word with no stumbles or repeated words, etc.

2 Part, 3 Part, 6 Part, etc: the question has 2 or 3 or 6 or whatever number of parts. An example of this kind of question is the “how many” of something is mentioned and “what are they”. As you can imagine, a 6 part question can be quite complicated. All the answers must be in the order they were asked, or if they are mixed up the parts must be identified by the quizzers as to which answer goes with which question. 

Cross reference: these questions involve 2 or more non-consecutive verses (in the Jr division they will specify a question from any 2 verses as cross-reference even if they are consecutive). These may be combined with the multiple part questions to make up a 2 part cross reference or 6 part cross reference, etc. 

Each team has 4 contests they may use if they think their answer has been incorrectly judged by the quizmaster or if they think the question is invalid. Only quizzers may call a contest. The coach may withdraw 2 of the contests and may present (or the quizzer may present) 2 contests to the quizmaster and judges. If a contest is granted it does not count against the 4 contests. 

Each team has 2 sixty-second time outs to be used between questions during the quiz. The quizzers and coaches may speak to each other during the time out. Usually this sixty seconds is used for telling the quizzers the score, strategizing, stern scolding, and deep prayer. 

A 5-point foul may be given to any coach or quizzer for breaking any rule in the rule book (manual). This includes but is not limited to inappropriate communication between quizzers and coaches, standing at the wrong time during a contest, calling a timeout after a question has started, or any other limitless number of items. Fouls are generally more embarrassing than harmful, but occasionally that 5 points can swing a quiz.

Answering the Questions:

Interrupting: In quizzing, unlike in social situations, interrupting is encouraged. A quizzer may interrupt the quizmaster at any point after the question is begun by pressing the buzzer. At this point the quizmaster stops, the quizzer’s buzzer number is called, and the automated system says “interruption”. The quizzer then must finish the question and give the correct answer. The quizzer does not have to give word-for-word what was on the quizmaster’s paper, but it has to be the same essential question. 

Points: A correct answer gives the team the number of points of the question. A ten point question answered correctly gives the team ten points, etc. 
An incorrect answer subtracts from the quizzer’s team’s score 1/2 the point value of the question. A ten point question answered incorrectly gives the quizzer minus five points. 

An interrupted question, when answered incorrectly not only subtracts 1/2 the point value of the question, but the same question is then reread to the opposing team giving them a chance to answer the fully-read question without interruption.

Quizzing-out: when a quizzer has answered a certain number of questions correctly (6 for Beginners and Jrs, 8 for Intermediate and Experienced) they are given a ten point bonus and removed from the game. This prevents any one quizzer from taking all the questions and adds an incentive for teamwork.

Erroring Out: when a quizzer has answered 5 questions incorrectly they are removed from the quiz table. 

Locking a Game: there often comes a point in the game where even if a team were to answer all of the remaining questions correctly they still couldn’t win. At this point the game is locked and often the coaches will instruct their quizzers to not hit any more questions. So you really can’t tell how close a game was (or not) by just looking at the final score.