Studying for HS lit in MS

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J. Young
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Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by J. Young » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:10 am

What books generally come up in HS lit sets? I am in middle school but about half the tournaments my school attends are high school level, like TJIAT. I'm pretty good at the Western classics, but I don't know much of what comes up in the high school sets.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue Jul 14, 2015 8:32 am

Well, no one's going to just post a list of the hundreds and hundreds of literary works that could possibly come up in high school, so I'm not sure what you're looking for. The best way to learn what comes up is to just read a bunch of packets and take notes (or do whatever other memory-retention thing works for you) on stuff that you see coming up often. Another good quick-start approach is to pick up one of the NAQT frequency lists, though the full versions will cost you or your team some money, and beyond an awareness of what comes up and how much, these are only going to get you title-creator familiarity.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by Corry » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:10 am

Even in high school, there is still only a reasonably limited number of authors and works that could conceivably come up, at least in the regular season. As a result, reading over past packets (and taking notes) is probably the most straightforward way to introduce yourself to the high school "canon."

For instance, NAQT writes 6 regular difficulty high school sets (including the SSNCT) every year. From my personal observations, by the time NAQT is putting together the last ~2 sets of the year, the writers are desperately grasping at straws for new literature answer lines (especially for tossups). There really just isn't that much that can be asked for at this level.

Of course, this is not to say that you have to shell out cash to buy old NAQT sets. Looking in quizbowlpackets.com and reading through the entirety of 4-5 regular difficulty sets there would probably be equally as helpful.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Tue Jul 14, 2015 9:33 am

If you're interested in an answer that doesn't start its flow from quizbowl, I also recommend finding the reading lists your local high school provides (such as the summer ones they give you on transitioning from MS to HS) and just browsing the titles, maybe choosing a few to read. Typically these are very "Great Canon" works, and pretty enjoyable. Similarly, you might also talk to your English teacher, either for MS or HS, and ask for recommendations or authors that might be coming up in the year. From my memories of Fairfax County, you probably still read The Pearl in 8th grade, and The Odyssey in 9th grade; thus I'd recommend exploring other works like East of Eden or The Iliad. If you can find them, the AP Lit/Lang teachers will probably have very sophisticated recommendations.

The nice part of this idea is that you get a head start on school as well, and build a relationship with your English teachers. (When is it ever too early to start thinking about college?...) Your studying will be slower, but it's a much more thorough and rewarding process.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by dwd500 » Tue Jul 14, 2015 10:34 am

UlyssesInvictus wrote:I also recommend finding the reading lists your local high school provides....Typically these are very "Great Canon" works, and pretty enjoyable
Your mileage may vary depending on your district, however.

I'm not saying that some of these aren't worthwhile, but as for books that come up, there's some slim pickin's in there.

Frequency lists, You Gotta Know lists, and reading packets are the way to go.

If you're owning MS Literature, look to A-Sets or SCOP Novice first.

This past year was my first with HS. There had not been much structural work (absolutely no requirement to study, no players with more than one year HS experience, 1 junior and 0 seniors) at the HS before, and I had (and still have) very young players who had to take on those big leadership and subject playing roles.

Literature was the first subject that we realized had a very steep learning curve (like Science is now proving to have), as the full HS canon is MUCH larger than the MS canon. It would have been much easier for those players had there been upperclassmen who could take the harder stuff while they picked up on the intermediate step. Instead, it took one Sophomore taking it upon himself to play protobowl nearly non-stop for about a month, coupling that with flashcarding and packet study. That worked for him (I remember when I was a HS Sophomore - I would've just as soon gnawed my own leg off.) and he saw the benefits very quickly. The team is glad he did that, but I'm not happy that we were in a situation where he had to do that.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Tue Jul 14, 2015 11:10 am

dwd500 wrote:
UlyssesInvictus wrote:I also recommend finding the reading lists your local high school provides....Typically these are very "Great Canon" works, and pretty enjoyable
Your mileage may vary depending on your district, however.

I'm not saying that some of these aren't worthwhile, but as for books that come up, there's some slim pickin's in there.
You're right, I was probably being insular in my confidence in the lack of YA dystopia novels on every reading list -_-

But since in this case I'm from the same school district as the OP, I'll repeat my vote of confidence in reading lists, at least for this particular district (and assuming nothing's drastically changed in five years; actually, my brother is a year older than you, so I can take a look at what he's reading.)

And as for packets, I'm not saying they're not helpful--they're almost guaranteed to be more helpful than slowly reading books--but I like the idea of getting in school material as well as quizbowl preparation.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by Jason Cheng » Wed Jul 15, 2015 3:42 am

I'd like to revisit the idea of approaching literature from a standpoint that doesn't start its flow from quiz bowl, as Raynor pointed out. The idea of using high school reading lists is a great one: in case you want more lists of things to read, here's Arcadia's, which has almost zero(!) spec fic/YA dystopian lit on it (although the number of works on this list has slimmed down from what I remember. No more Toni Morrison and Ray Bradbury in the 9th grade section, no more Thomas Hardy, Ayn Rand, Charles Dickens, significantly less Shakespeare, from a quick eye check; there's a lot of additional stuff that individual teachers add to the list on their own too). If you want, you could probably dig up a lot of these school reading lists on the internet and cross-reference them, finding the works that appear the most and learning about those. The benefit of that is two-pronged: first, you'll be gaining a lot of cultural literacy, since a good majority of the works of literature people know and regard with respect come straight out of what they were taught in high school. Spotting a throwaway reference to something and just being able to own it and know exactly what it's referencing and how it applies is one of the best tiny thrills there is.

Second, and the reason you're probably posting on these forums, you'll be getting a lot of mileage out of that knowledge for quiz bowl. High school literature is much easier than college literature that way--people writing literature questions for high school default to things they know are taught in high school classes, which makes the canon a lot more manageable. What's taught in high school all across America actually tends to be a lot more uniform, since you're very likely to hit on several classics. You have to look pretty hard to find a high school graduate who hasn't read The Great Gatsby, after all. You could also try to Google something like "top 100 classics" or "Western Canon" or something and there's like a 70% chance that something you pick off the results will be something that comes up in high school quiz bowl questions. With a bit of a discerning eye, you can pretty quickly figure out which of those works are ones that a lot of people consider "of literary merit," no matter how varied individual opinions of what "literary merit" are.

I'd advocate this approach rather than a packet-based approach where you read a lot of packets and try to take notes on what's repeating mostly because it's a lot more interesting and infinitely less tedious to me than just reading old questions with incomplete information about works. Plus, you can probably develop an idea of what's important with less work than you would by just waiting for a third mention of Alan Paton during a packet crawl. I'd also suggest trying to learn through a framework: approach authors in terms of categories, and learn the context of those categories as well. Literary movements are usually a fun way to start. For example, if you want to start learning poetry, I'd suggest starting from the Romantics and looking up Lyrical Ballads and proceeding from there.

You definitely do have to read packets though, so no getting out of that :party:
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Jul 15, 2015 7:53 am

Jason Cheng wrote:I'd advocate this approach rather than a packet-based approach where you read a lot of packets and try to take notes on what's repeating mostly because it's a lot more interesting and infinitely less tedious to me than just reading old questions with incomplete information about works.
Yeah, to be clear, "reading a bunch of packets" is a good way to start, and when I mentioned taking notes on stuff that comes up, I meant to give you an idea of what to then go and learn about, rather than as a studying end in and of itself. Reading through stuff like the last few NSCs, HSAPQ's questions, and the most-highly-recommended regular-difficulty high school housewrites will get you a good idea of what the best high school writers have already found askable (and answerable). There's no need to reinvent that particular wheel by cross-referencing high school reading lists or whatever unless you really want to--plus, playing questions and writing down what comes up is a lot more fun.

Once you've gotten a decent idea of what comes up regularly, you'll want to start studying that information in a more basic fashion--nailing down basic associations like titles, characters, and creators, then moving on to learning more in-depth information in whatever fashion you find most personally rewarding.

Lastly, don't make the mistake of assuming that the things that have come up are the only things that can come up--looking at past packets is a great way to start building familiarity with the canon, but it's by no means an exhaustive list of askable topics.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by Jason Cheng » Wed Jul 15, 2015 12:08 pm

Oh yeah, definitely. There are a million different ways to study lit, each with varying levels of effectiveness for different people. I just wanted to touch on a way that didn't start from quiz bowl, in case someone looking to study lit thinks in those terms.
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by J. Young » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:53 am

I tend to study lit by reading the actual books, because I find that I can get powers better that way, and I have a lot of time now, since its summer. Can somebody please name some of the books that come up in almost every HS tournament?
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Re: Studying for HS lit in MS

Post by acrosby1861 » Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:24 pm

J. Young wrote:I tend to study lit by reading the actual books, because I find that I can get powers better that way, and I have a lot of time now, since its summer. Can somebody please name some of the books that come up in almost every HS tournament?
I've seen quite a bit of Shakespeare works, so for those, I recommend reading the most commonly asked parts and lines. (like the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, and the "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" speech from Julius Caesar)

Also there've been questions on Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities (both by Dickens), The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, most things by James Joyce (but these ones were limited to just "name the author"), and Moby Dick by Melville.

Do you also want poetry too, or are you just focusing on the books?

(Note, I think I forgot a few major works too.)
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