Bad topics--Bad Questions

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Tegan
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Bad topics--Bad Questions

Post by Tegan »

I was reading through the college threads and was inspired to start a thread on questions or question topics that are either done to death and need to be heaved until the 2010 season, or are generally so poorly written that you can't stand hearing it one more time.

For openers: Flame tests in chemistry. Not only is it overdone to the extreme (at least here in Illinois...though this season not too bad), but the question writers almost never leave wiggle room for interpretation. I have talked to high school teachers and university professors, and they say there is no standard answer (ie. crimson should equal red should equal dark red, etc). Maybe the question writers just need to wake up on this one.

In the chemistry book that I consult when writing questions, I just put a slip of paper marked "NO!!" on the page that talks about flame test interpretation...just in case I hit my head too hard one day.


Others:
Flower parts (four identical bonuses in different tournaments this year)
Saul Bellow (I'll vomit the next time Humboldt's Gift comes up)
Opportunity and Spirit (I love 'em, but enough is enough!)
"Name these groups encountered by Gulliver....."
Layers of the atmosphere
Layers of the Earth
"Given the moon..name the planet".

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Deviant Insider
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Post by Deviant Insider »

I don't agree with your whole list, but I do agree with flame tests and the last three. One flame test question is too many.

I would add:
Convert between degrees and radians
Answer the same question about different regular polygons
Find the center of the circle/ellipse/hyperbola
Name the city containing the museum
Jeannette Rankin (I am in full favor of asking questions about women, but I shouldn't have to hear questions repeatedly about somebody with exactly one claim to fame.)
Tsunami (My dad, who is very well read, told me a few weeks ago that he had never heard the term before the recent disaster. I told him that I have heard it every week for the past ten years.)

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zwtipp
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Post by zwtipp »

I heard this question way too often last year in Ohio format lightning rounds:
"It may not be funny when you break your arm, but what is the name of the upper arm bone"
A question like that is just insulting and should be gone.
Other things:
Battle of the Bulge and D-Day come up a lot. I'd like to hear more operation market garden or other less prominent things than D-Day
Also, more of the smaller civil war battles. It seems they only ask about Shiloh, Antietem, Vicksburg and Gettysburg and that's it.
I do not care much for large yellow Avians.

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solonqb
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Post by solonqb »

One thing I've noticed is that college trends sometimes find their way into the high school sets. Question security prevents me from naming specific examples, let's just say I've heard several examples off of Weiner's pet peeve list at tournaments.

Apparently in every question set I've played this year there's been a 1/1 distribution requirement on South African authors. And the same three keep coming up.

I wish they included a bit more non-European battles. (I'm talking strictly about NAQT/PACE nationals here) Hattin and Lepanto are good for starters, but how about a little Ain Jalut, Manzikert, or Qadisiyah? Those are all pretty historically significant, arguably more so than ones that get asked.

The same goes for mythology. I liked the Shahnama bonus at HSNCT last year. It's something to build on.

There are good things as well. The science questions in general seem to be easier than the literature/mythology/social science, with the notable good exception of last year's PACE NSC. I liked Sorice's questions; they could have used a bit of cutting from maybe 9-10 lines to 6-7 lines on average, but on the whole much better than your typical Boyle's law/Charle's law morass.

In summary, I have some peeves but things are looking up.
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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

the degree/radian thing should come up in a little jv, but at the varsity level that's a given sweep. the moons i don't disagree with, but rankin should not come up and mr. reinstein, she has two (first woman elected to congress and only person to vote no on entering WWI and WWII). saul bellow would be good, but only in a pyramided format. as for gulliver, i've heard PLEASE MAKE FUN OF ME BECAUSE I SPEAK NEITHER LATIN NOR ENGLISH that just want four lands (not the four lands, four fictional is correct, just four lands is not b/c he visited japan). a strange bonus i heard at boylan and should never be repeated asked for the id of an amendment based solely on the first ten words

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Irreligion in Bangladesh
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

In Illinois, the Home Economics category should be taken out back and shot. I've heard more different styles of French breads (brioche and baguette) than composers of operas (Puccini....we haven't hit Carmen [and thusly Bizet] yet this year.) When a team can score as many points answering types of stitching and farm animals (Home Ec., Ag., filling up the 2 TU Miscellaneous requirement) as composers of musical works and famous paintings (Music and Art, filling up the 2 Arts requirement), something is rotten in the state of Illinois.

Or should I say, something is rotten in the state of Illinois. Given the fact that it at one point was a sheep, name the type of meat it was pre-rotting.

(The correct answer, as has been heard 4 times since sophomore year, is mutton.)

And solon? In Illinois, our tossups are considered lengthy at 2 lines. For example, the 18th tossup of a semifinal afternoon match ran "Who created the character of Billy Pilgrim in his book Slaugherhouse Five?", and was considered an "excellent job of pyramidal styles, going from character to book in quick fashion." Do not feel angry about 10 line questions. I would kill for a 4 line question.

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Post by jrbarry »

Any academic question that ends up with a lame video game or pop culture clue/giveaway drives me to consider the sanity of the writer.

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Post by Tegan »

jrbarry wrote:Any academic question that ends up with a lame video game or pop culture clue/giveaway drives me to consider the sanity of the writer.
I resemble that remark!

:grin:

Seriously....if you are writing a match for nationals, I can see where that could drive you insane on some obscure piece of academia, gotten by some videohead who saw it in the background of a nintendo game.

On the other hand, as a question writer, when I write regular season stuff, nad I know that not every team is going to get it, I throw in the final clue from time to time (heck, I linked the Crusades and Samuel L. Jackson....I was proud of the accomplishment).

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Post by Trevkeeper »

I'm generally not fond of Language bonuses, specifically the ones that ask you to name the days of the week. They come up too often, I've seen. It's an easy sweep.

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solonqb
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Post by solonqb »

jrbarry wrote:Seriously....if you are writing a match for nationals, I can see where that could drive you insane on some obscure piece of academia, gotten by some videohead who saw it in the background of a nintendo game.
The Buzzerpalooza question set had just such an example, but of a videogame hose. People kept negging on Carmina Burana with Final Fantasy VII beacuse it mentioned the villain Sephiroth.
Noah Rahman
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Post by mrblinux »

People did the same thing at when the same questions were at the University of Maryland.


FF7... great game.

Back to subject... literature questions with movie leadins need to go.
No longer affiliated with Blake It's Ac team :D

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Post by Captain Sinico »

solonqb wrote:I liked Sorice's questions; they could have used a bit of cutting from maybe 9-10 lines to 6-7 lines on average, but on the whole much better than your typical Boyle's law/Charle's law morass.
Glad to serve; expect more this year if you go to PACE. And I'm working on the length, which has always been an issue of mine.

MaS

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Post by STPickrell »

Home ec -- I don't see the tragedy in that. Not sure where in the VHSL distribution I could fit it, as a component. But no way it should exceed the 1.5 we have of art and 1.5 we have of fine music (these two will include jazz, pre-1950 cinema, etc.)

Ditto business/finance (which to me is part of Social Studies - Other, along with Politics/Civics/Law and Psychology/Sociology.) If the questions are answerable, I think having business/finance as part of an explicit distribution is not so bad -- HS and college students are shockingly lacking in knowledge of these areas, from what I've gathered, and knowing to balance your checkbook, how a credit card works and choose a good mutual fund is as important IMO as knowing who composed "Carmen" or who wrote "Paradise Lost."

As for a "NAcutie" or academic question that ends with a lame video game or pop culture giveaway -- I have no problem with that and use them reasonably frequently in VHSL questions. Why? The teams had plenty of academic clues to get the TU earlier on, and I'd rather see the question answered from an "impure" clue than go dead.

Also we have a category -- Vocabulary -- which includes multidisciplinary questions, many of which would go "To a mathematician ... To a biologist ... What is this, that to a football fan means ...?"
Shawn Pickrell, HSAPQ CFO

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Post by Deviant Insider »

Mohs

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dtaylor4
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Post by dtaylor4 »

the lit with movie leadins are ok, but only should be used if the movie was any good. i know that opinions may differ, but that is what is so great about this country of ours. from my experience at a local tournament where a question about baklava came up verbatim in five out of nine rounds and there was a tie for first among three teams with two losses (it was a 9-team round robin), home ec must go. psych should be included in moderation, but i've had a year of accounting and a semester of econ and can't get some of these business questions except for a question on wal-mart which i got on "This business, named the most admired *buzz*" "Walmart" because i had seen a one-hour special on it.

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Post by STPickrell »

DaGeneral wrote:the lit with movie leadins are ok, but only should be used if the movie was any good. i know that opinions may differ, but that is what is so great about this country of ours. from my experience at a local tournament where a question about baklava came up verbatim in five out of nine rounds and there was a tie for first among three teams with two losses (it was a 9-team round robin), home ec must go. psych should be included in moderation, but i've had a year of accounting and a semester of econ and can't get some of these business questions except for a question on wal-mart which i got on "This business, named the most admired *buzz*" "Walmart" because i had seen a one-hour special on it.
I will say that from what I've heard, the VHSL questions seem to be more pyramidal/NAQT-style than the Illinois questions. The citations you list are pretty bad.

But over the course of an 10-match tounrament to have questions whose answers are "baklava", "bouillabaise", "General Tso", "sushi" and "spatula"? That's 1/2 question per match (out of 55 in the VHSL format.)

As for business/econ, here's what I had as answers in 12 of the 45 2003-04 VHSL District matches:

ruble
How many stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average? 30
oligopoly
What the acronym FDIC stands for
title deed
foreclosure
put (the stock option, in the question was "call")
preferred stock
regressive tax
naming "gold" from the different coins made by different nations and the price of gold in early September 2003
money from M1, M2 and M3

Region:
severance pay
load (as in no-load mutual funds)
Sallie Mae
demand elasticity
progressive tax
supply-side economics
home equity from definition
reverse mortgage
bear market
liquid asset
debit card

State:
public goods
scarcity
corporations
monopsony
John Maynard Keynes
repeat of "money" (oops, repeats are hard to avoid over the course of 65 matches!)
Shawn Pickrell, HSAPQ CFO

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No Sollositing On Premise
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Post by No Sollositing On Premise »

Video game lead-ins and giveaways really shouldn't exist. In one practice my senior year of high school there was a question about the Chinese epic Outlaws of the Marsh which I buzzed in incorrectly with Suikoden upon mention of "108 heroes and angels" or something. The fact that I mistook a fairly important literary work for a role-playing video game loosely based on said work sort of makes me sad. The fact that there are actual clues like the Carmina Burana/Sephiroth tie-in and a Dynasty Warriors/Romance of the Three Kingdoms clue I remember reading once makes me feel ill. Should we really reward anti-academia knowledge on questions that are anything but? I mean sure, trash questions mean trash knowledge, but trash knowledge in good questions shouldn't happen.
Mike Sollosi, University of Virginia

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Post by David Riley »

ANYTHING having to do with World War II--there are other wars, too, ya know! :grin:

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Post by dtaylor4 »

David Riley wrote:ANYTHING having to do with World War II--there are other wars, too, ya know! :grin:
no more political slogans! policies are ok, but slogans are cheesy and embarrassing if overused

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