Study tips for literature

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Study tips for literature

Post by TSIAJ »

So MSNCT is coming up, and we just found out we're going...

What's a good way to improve literature in a short amount of time? (17 days)
My literature knowledge is fairly good at the middle school level, and one of my teammates and I pretty much get half and half on literature tossups.

Would it be best to split the studying between me and him and then into subcategories like time period and country?
Since we need to improve our literature knowledge in a short amount of time, this can be challenging.

Many thanks.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by High Dependency Unit »

Sparknotes or something similar to spark notes. I did it before MSNCT last year. I would suggest actually reading poems and short stories though. Don't waste time sparknoting novels that are commonly read-Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc. will probably be powered by someone in your room who has read it (if you haven't).
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by TSIAJ »

Sparknotes is great, no doubt. I have no problem with the main lit, as I've read a lot of them, so it's mostly more obscure or lesser known works and short stories.

I'll try to see if I can fit some into my week.

Thanks for the tip!
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by High Dependency Unit »

Siegfried wrote:Sparknotes is great, no doubt. I have no problem with the main lit, as I've read a lot of them, so it's mostly more obscure or lesser known works and short stories.

I'll try to see if I can fit some into my week.

Thanks for the tip!
Something else I forgot-definitely know at least the main plot of lesser known works by an author for tossups that have a lesser known work at the start, like starting a Tolstoy tossup with a sentence on The Death of Ivan Ilyich or something.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by Lawrence Simon »

So although I have never played in MSNCT, I have played on them and invitational middle school questions for practice as a freshman. My suggestion would be to look at NAQT's You Gotta Know list of authors and works and memorize them if you haven't already, as well as learning their major plot points and characters. On top of this use Quinterest to look up the authors on that list at the high school level and write down their other major works, and even some minor ones if they're important enough. This worked for me enough to qualify my team for HSNCT and play decently there so I imagine it'll do wonders for you. And of course actually reading poetry and plays if you have the time is useful as well.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by TSIAJ »

Lawrence Simon wrote:So although I have never played in MSNCT, I have played on them and invitational middle school questions for practice as a freshman. My suggestion would be to look at NAQT's You Gotta Know list of authors and works and memorize them if you haven't already, as well as learning their major plot points and characters. On top of this use Quinterest to look up the authors on that list at the high school level and write down their other major works, and even some minor ones if they're important enough. This worked for me enough to qualify my team for HSNCT and play decently there so I imagine it'll do wonders for you. And of course actually reading poetry and plays if you have the time is useful as well.
The You Gotta Know lists were some of the first things our team looked at, so that should be down for us, although I should probably review some still.

Quinterest looks interesting; thanks for the resource suggestion!
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by Kevin »

Lawrence Simon wrote:My suggestion would be to look at NAQT's You Gotta Know list of authors and works and memorize them if you haven't already, as well as learning their major plot points and characters. On top of this use Quinterest to look up the authors on that list at the high school level and write down their other major works, and even some minor ones if they're important enough..
I agree with this. There are a fairly small number of authors and works likely to come up. Use Quinterest to look up questions about Twain or Dickens or Frost or anyone else. It'll be pretty clear that the same works, characters, quotes, etc. tend to come up again and again.

It's not a bad idea to split up by countries or genres if you have a teammate who's equally good at literature. Mostly you probably want to focus on American and British literature.

You also need to worry about YA literature since that's a pretty big part of NAQT's MS distribution. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of great ideas about how to study that.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by TSIAJ »

Kevin wrote:
Lawrence Simon wrote:My suggestion would be to look at NAQT's You Gotta Know list of authors and works and memorize them if you haven't already, as well as learning their major plot points and characters. On top of this use Quinterest to look up the authors on that list at the high school level and write down their other major works, and even some minor ones if they're important enough..
I agree with this. There are a fairly small number of authors and works likely to come up. Use Quinterest to look up questions about Twain or Dickens or Frost or anyone else. It'll be pretty clear that the same works, characters, quotes, etc. tend to come up again and again.

It's not a bad idea to split up by countries or genres if you have a teammate who's equally good at literature. Mostly you probably want to focus on American and British literature.

You also need to worry about YA literature since that's a pretty big part of NAQT's MS distribution. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of great ideas about how to study that.
YA literature has been a problem for us as well. I don't usually follow modern authors, and I stick mainly to classics and non-fiction, so currently I'm just reading Wikipedia articles on the more famous authors/novels.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by jeremylu »

yay, I'm going to MSNCT too! The best way is to in general, read.

What I do is that I write down the sparknotes plot summary. then on quizbowldb.com , I search up the name of that book and write down lots of keywords that tossups ask for. The only bad thing is that you're mostly studying high school tossups, but it's really good. For example, you'll learn that Birnam Woods is Macbeth, and that Owl-eyes and Valley of Ashes is Great Gatsby. Also, this is my coaches study guide:

* = may come up, ** = will come up often, *** = must know

Note: The best way to study these is buy reading them. However, I tend to use Sparknotes to

study. Read the plot overview, but for in-depth detail study the chapters one by one.

The Scarlet Letter ***

Gulliver’s Travels **

Macbeth **

Hamlet **

Romeo and Juliet ***

Emily Dickinson (find famous poems: eg. Because I could not stop for death) ***

Edgar Allan Poe ***

The Tiger *

The Red Badge of Courage **

Huckleberry Finn ***

Tom Sawyer **

The Great Gatsby *

To Kill A Mockingbird **

The Necklace **

O Henry Short Stories ***

Steinbeck and his works (know his works, especially main ones like Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath,

The Pearl) **

George Orwell (know works and Animal Farm*** very well

Jane Austen (mainly her works like Pride and Prejudice [especially] come up)*

Ernest Hemmingway (and his works)*

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (this is a probably no)*

William Faulkner (and his works, especially Sound and The Fury and As I Lay Dying)*

Charles Dickens (David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and more)*

Uncle Tom’s Cabin***

A Long Way from Chicago**

Lois Lowry** (Numbering the Stars, Gathering Blue, The Giver**)

Roald Dahl (and his works) **

EDIT: this is for middle school only. Also, our school makes us read lots of books that come up in quizbowl and it helps a lot


EDIT2: http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-boo ... /list.html

some young adult books. fault in our stars and book thief. I can also think of any of the hunger games books.
Last edited by jeremylu on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by UlyssesInvictus »

My first piece of advice is to just read the book. You can't beat real knowledge, and it will cascade into naturally wanting to learn more about the book and everything else the author wrote.

That said, this seems to be a cramming situation, so I'll throw gradesaver and shmoop out there as two websites which I've found to have surprisingly in-depth plots where sparknotes and wikipedia are lacking.

This is even worse as far as studying only for the sake of quizbowl goes, but reverse clue lookup on quinterest and google (set the site to the quizbowlpackets database) can get you a lot of rapid mileage in terms of lit clues that come up repeatedly but which you might not have been exposed to in a classroom environment otherwise.

Oh, and by the way, this is a topic that's been beaten to death (because some people still argue opposingly...), but try to stray from thinking in terms of "X=Y." It'll help, I admit, but you won't get the real knowledge, it becomes much easier to forget, and if the question varies even slightly, then you're screwed. For example, as far as Gatsby goes, do you know what Owl Eyes does? Do you know who he interacts with in Gatsby? If the tossup is about a character, and it's Nick, but you hear Owl Eyes and guess Gatsby because you think "Owl Eyes=Gatsby," then you're screwed. It's much better to be thinking "Owl Eyes=Gatsby IN WHICH HE does Y,Z,etc."
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by High Dependency Unit »

jeremylu wrote:yay, I'm going to MSNCT too! The best way is to in general, read.

What I do is that I write down the sparknotes plot summary. then on quizbowldb.com , I search up the name of that book and write down lots of keywords that tossups ask for. The only bad thing is that you're mostly studying high school tossups, but it's really good. For example, you'll learn that Birnam Woods is Macbeth, and that Owl-eyes and Valley of Ashes is Great Gatsby. Also, this is my coaches study guide:

* = may come up, ** = will come up often, *** = must know

Note: The best way to study these is buy reading them. However, I tend to use Sparknotes to

study. Read the plot overview, but for in-depth detail study the chapters one by one.

The Scarlet Letter ***

Gulliver’s Travels **

Macbeth **

Hamlet **

Romeo and Juliet ***

Emily Dickinson (find famous poems: eg. Because I could not stop for death) ***

Edgar Allan Poe ***

The Tiger *

The Red Badge of Courage **

Huckleberry Finn ***

Tom Sawyer **

The Great Gatsby *

To Kill A Mockingbird **

The Necklace **

O Henry Short Stories ***

Steinbeck and his works (know his works, especially main ones like Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath,

The Pearl) **

George Orwell (know works and Animal Farm*** very well

Jane Austen (mainly her works like Pride and Prejudice [especially] come up)*

Ernest Hemmingway (and his works)*

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (this is a probably no)*

William Faulkner (and his works, especially Sound and The Fury and As I Lay Dying)*

Charles Dickens (David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and more)*

Uncle Tom’s Cabin***

A Long Way from Chicago**

Lois Lowry** (Numbering the Stars, Gathering Blue, The Giver**)

Roald Dahl (and his works) **

EDIT: this is for middle school only. Also, our school makes us read lots of books that come up in quizbowl and it helps a lot
I would say you should know the titles of Mark Twain and more of a biography about him as well (he wrote for some newspaper out west). William Faulkner is a must-know, I'd think. Dickens as well. I'd be shocked if Hemingway didn't come up. Also, the Great Gatsby comes up in so many tournaments. It's like 200 pages-read it at some point if you haven't, plus it's a great book. For poets, know Whitman, Frost, Keats, Colerige, all the big names.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

My advice is: don't waste time reading novels like Uncle Tom's Cabin for quizbowl purposes when you could learn all the relevant clues in like ten minutes on Sparknotes or shmoop or Wikipedia or whatever. Absolutely read whatever interests you on your own time, but when it comes time to determine what to read and what to merely read about in order to get better at quizbowl, especially at this level, especially in such a short window before the tournament--"The Tyger" is 24 lines long. Uncle Tom's Cabin is 500 pages long. Use some common sense.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by jeremylu »

Owl Eyes is one of the couple attendors of the titular characters funeral. :wink:
Also, the case with like Nick Carraway, they would specify character, I believe.

I find it harder to study Shakespear because most of it is just quotes from the book and stuff. Only in the last two lines do they have any plot stuff. (one of the exceptions is romeo and juliet, where they talk about greogry and sampson in the opening fight)


You might also want to reread (if you havent read) Harry Potter, because that's going to come up in MSNCT.
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Re: Study tips for literature

Post by TSIAJ »

jeremylu wrote:yay, I'm going to MSNCT too! The best way is to in general, read.

What I do is that I write down the sparknotes plot summary. then on quizbowldb.com , I search up the name of that book and write down lots of keywords that tossups ask for. The only bad thing is that you're mostly studying high school tossups, but it's really good. For example, you'll learn that Birnam Woods is Macbeth, and that Owl-eyes and Valley of Ashes is Great Gatsby. Also, this is my coaches study guide:

* = may come up, ** = will come up often, *** = must know

Note: The best way to study these is buy reading them. However, I tend to use Sparknotes to

study. Read the plot overview, but for in-depth detail study the chapters one by one.

The Scarlet Letter ***

Gulliver’s Travels **

Macbeth **

Hamlet **

Romeo and Juliet ***

Emily Dickinson (find famous poems: eg. Because I could not stop for death) ***

Edgar Allan Poe ***

The Tiger *

The Red Badge of Courage **

Huckleberry Finn ***

Tom Sawyer **

The Great Gatsby *

To Kill A Mockingbird **

The Necklace **

O Henry Short Stories ***

Steinbeck and his works (know his works, especially main ones like Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath,

The Pearl) **

George Orwell (know works and Animal Farm*** very well

Jane Austen (mainly her works like Pride and Prejudice [especially] come up)*

Ernest Hemmingway (and his works)*

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (this is a probably no)*

William Faulkner (and his works, especially Sound and The Fury and As I Lay Dying)*

Charles Dickens (David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and more)*

Uncle Tom’s Cabin***

A Long Way from Chicago**

Lois Lowry** (Numbering the Stars, Gathering Blue, The Giver**)

Roald Dahl (and his works) **

EDIT: this is for middle school only. Also, our school makes us read lots of books that come up in quizbowl and it helps a lot


EDIT2: http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-boo ... /list.html

some young adult books. fault in our stars and book thief. I can also think of any of the hunger games books.
Interesting list! -although I would expect Hemingway and Faulkner to be slightly more common than represented.


Ukonvasara wrote:My advice is: don't waste time reading novels like Uncle Tom's Cabin for quizbowl purposes when you could learn all the relevant clues in like ten minutes on Sparknotes or shmoop or Wikipedia or whatever. Absolutely read whatever interests you on your own time, but when it comes time to determine what to read and what to merely read about in order to get better at quizbowl, especially at this level, especially in such a short window before the tournament--"The Tyger" is 24 lines long. Uncle Tom's Cabin is 500 pages long. Use some common sense.
Of course, but even reading the first few chapters or so of a lengthier novel can help a ton in clue recognition, character familiarity, etc., and it doesn't take long either.

jeremylu wrote:Owl Eyes is one of the couple attendors of the titular characters funeral. :wink:
Also, the case with like Nick Carraway, they would specify character, I believe.

I find it harder to study Shakespear because most of it is just quotes from the book and stuff. Only in the last two lines do they have any plot stuff. (one of the exceptions is romeo and juliet, where they talk about greogry and sampson in the opening fight)


You might also want to reread (if you havent read) Harry Potter, because that's going to come up in MSNCT.
Regarding Shakespeare, I agree it's hard to immerse oneself in it without being completely consumed by the sheer scale of his works. I'll be sure to look into more YA works as well... Come to think of it, I've forgotten most of Harry Potter's plot.
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