Author: gpqb

How to Highlight Quizbowl on College Apps

I’ve heard a lot of people in the quizbowl community ask how to effectively talk about quizbowl on college applications. While I’m not an expert at the admissions process, quizbowl was a major part of my high school experience so it came up quite a bit in my own application essays and interviews. Even after two years of college, I’m still pretty involved and frequently refer to my current quizbowl responsibilities in cover letters and conversations with internship recruiters. Building on what I wrote in this post last fall, here are some more specific ideas for framing skills from your high school quizbowl experience on college apps (and maybe even internship/job apps as well).

Disclaimer: A lot of people (admissions officers and alumni interviewers included) don’t really know what quizbowl is, so make sure you have a quick explanation on hand. You can use “it’s like Jeopardy! with teams” if you really want to, but I usually go with something about “interscholastic academic competition.” Specific details about question pyramidality or tossup/bonus formats might be too much detail for this purpose.

College admissions committees are looking for students to demonstrate how they are motivated, intellectually curious, hard-working, and so on (basically any other positive trait that you can clearly outline). Here are some skills from playing quizbowl you could highlight:

  • Intellectual curiosity: If you play quizbowl, you probably enjoy learning more than people who wouldn’t spend their free time studying and picking up knowledge about literature, history, science, or whatever subject you’re into. Maybe studying Renaissance paintings sparked an interest in art history. This is a great tidbit to bring up in an essay or interview; even (or especially) if you’re convinced you want to major in astrophysics or something else that isn’t art, it’s good to show you’re well-rounded and passionate about a variety of things.
  • Teamwork: If you have teammates, you most likely had to learn to work with them, whether to confer well during bonuses or to maintain team chemistry at tournaments. If you’ve helped to organize an event or put a set together, you’ve had to figure out communication and problem-solving there. Emphasizing the interpersonal skills that come from experience on a team shows that you can succeed and contribute positively in student orgs and future collaborative tasks.
  • Self-motivation: Maybe after noticing your team was missing every mythology tossup, you read up on myth systems last summer and have never missed a tossup on Norse gods since. If you can get yourself to do difficult tasks and overcome challenges, highlight your sense of drive and work ethic.
  • Commitment: This can be shown through anything you’ve consistently pursued without giving up. Several years of substantial involvement in quizbowl (or any other extracurricular) and following through on duties can show commitment.
  • Leadership: Captains and club officers have experience working with different personalities and handling an array of responsibilities, from leading practices and boosting team morale to recruiting new members and even registering for tournaments, depending on how involved the coach is. With or without an explicitly outlined leadership role, you can show initiative and leadership skills in ways like mentoring younger players. For my own college apps, I wrote about taking initiative in directing events and pursuing outreach efforts.
  • Creativity: I’ve seen people come up with pretty creative ideas for studying, online leagues, fun practice activities, and more. Thinking outside the box is a valuable skill to emphasize for college, and there are plenty of ways to show creativity in conjunction with leadership and teamwork abilities.
  • Community service: Whether hosted at your school or somewhere else, staffing tournaments (reading, scorekeeping, doing stats, or in any other role) is a great way to give back to the quizbowl community, and you can definitely show this on an application. Other volunteer experiences could include things like helping out with your middle school’s team.

Depending on what your time in quizbowl has involved, there are countless other aspects you could highlight as well. A huge part of a successful college (or internship/job) application is just effectively communicating the skills you have and your capacity for growth. Playing tournaments, writing questions, moderating, and organizing events are enriching experiences, and you can use them to your advantage in showcasing who you are. Good luck, and feel free to comment or reach out for advice!


Online Pennsylvania Charity Tournament Wrap-Up (6/27/20)

While a small consolation for the COVID-related loss of the 2020 nationals season, Pennsylvania’s quizbowlers were not ready to quit quite yet. They gathered for one final event online, PACT, which was a mirror of the BHSAT set. All proceeds were donated to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kiski Area’s Eddie Fuhrer, a GPQB all-state honorable mention this year, stepped up to direct. For a first time TD, he did an incredible job.

Stats are here.

This was a tossups-only event, in which 13 teams played a round robin. State College A cleared the field with a 12-0 record. This was a great team effort for Albert, Jupiter, Allen, and Ananya, as they all scored 25 points per game or higher and won every game by 40 points or more. Second place went to Great Valley Blue, and third to Trinity. Manheim Township‘s AZ Faiz, GPQB’s JV player of the year, led the event with 86 points per game. We also wanted to commend co-2nd place scorers Anish Kodali from GV Blue and Chris Goodrich from Oxford with 80.

As it looks like much of the 2020-21 season will be online as well, this was an interesting trial run. Hopefully, PA quizbowl can thrive and then return to face to face competition soon.


GPQB End of Season Poll, 2019-2020


While this unusual season did not have any Keystone State Tournament or Nationals Tournaments, we still thought it best to carry on and do an end-of-season ranking. It was difficult, but these students more than any deserve the honor of being named a top team in the state. They put in countless hours of hard work, and many continued to practice virtually even after the COVID epidemic. This year had dozens of seniors who made a name for themselves in the circuit, and we wish them the best on their next steps. Here are the results:

  1. Manheim Township, 110 points (Unanimous #1, =)
  2. Great Valley A, 99 points (+1)
  3. Great Valley B, 85 points (+1)
  4. Penn Manor, 73 points (+2)
  5. Henderson, 63 points (-3)
  6. State College, 61 points (-1)
  7. Friends Select, 47 points (=)
  8. Trinity Catholic, 32 points (=)
  9. Hempfield, 16 points (=)
  10. Oxford, 13 points (previously u/r)

Also receiving votes were: Allderdice (4), Moravian Academy (1), and Winchester Thurston (1)

The voters in this poll were: Ryan Bilger, Jack Edmondson, Ben Herman, Antonio Jimenez, Ashish Kumbhardare, Andrew Nadig, Nick Luca, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, and Adam Swift

GPQB Awards, 2019-2020


It is with pleasure that we can announce another round of our annual awards for playing and coaching. Every year, our decision is a hard one. There are so many diligent players and coaches around the state that to award them all would be impossible. This year, all three awardees have demonstrated heart and passion about quizbowl that we can all appreciate. We hope they can inspire more like them as the community continues to grow. Without further ado:

Congratulations to Will Steger of Manheim Township High School for winning Player of the Year for 2019-2020. This award recognizes his strong skills on the buzzer, particularly in the category of history, but perhaps even more importantly, his leadership skills. His diligence and discipline at practice, studying outside practice, and on tournament day have inspired his teammates and fellow competitors to in turn improve themselves and learn more. In this respect, Will represents what Pennsylvania quizbowl is all about: knowledge with character.

Congratulations to AZ Faiz of Manheim Township High School for winning JV Player of the Year for 2019-2020. AZ broke out in his sophomore season to become one of Pennsylvania’s top literature and fine arts players, scoring in bundles. Not since Alex Schmidt have we seen a player as well developed and confident at his age, and AZ’s rapid improvement has contributed to some major wins over nationally ranked programs.

Congratulations to Shan Hogan of Carver High School of Engineering and Science for winning Coach of the Year for 2019-2020. Shan has an enthusiasm for quizbowl which is infectious. Her many students at Carver and everyone else around the circuit recognize her chutzpah and mettle as she shares that passion and mentors her students. This year, Carver qualified for HSNCT, which is a big feat for a school that has less resources than many of their competitors. In addition, this award is in recognition of Shan’s exemplary tournament direction of the Philadelphia City Championship.

We congratulate all this year’s winners on a job well done, and can’t wait to see what’s next for them.

-The Staff

Announcement: GPQB All State Teams, 2019-2020


In this time of pandemic, we are all facing loss and difficulties. The quizbowl season has been cut short, and this year will unfortunately not feature any nationals events. While this is a devastating loss for us all, we still had five months of hard work studying and great buzzer play to go on, and thus GPQB will name all-state teams as always. We particularly salute this year’s seniors, who had to end their quizbowl career so abruptly. Without further ado, here are your GPQB All-State Teams for the 2019-2020 quizbowl season:

First Team All-State

  • Vijay Anne, Henderson High School
  • AZ Faiz, Manheim Township High School
  • Connor Mayers, Penn Manor High School
  • Will Steger, Manheim Township High School
  • Albert Zhang, State College High School

Second Team All-State

  • Matt D’Annunzio, Friends Select School
  • Chris Goodrich, Oxford High School
  • John Li, Great Valley High School
  • Anish Kodali, Great Valley High School
  • Rishi Raman, Great Valley High School

Honorable Mentions

  • Carsten Brodbeck, Hempfield High School
  • Luke Capper, Trinity High School
  • Vikram Chodapaneedi, Henderson High School
  • Eddie Fuhrer, Kiski Area High School
  • Nolan Greenways, Great Valley High School
  • Noah Harrigan, Great Valley High School
  • Anshu Nunemanthala, Great Valley High School

We commend all these students on their hard work this season.

-The staff

Philly City Championships 2020 Wrap-Up (3/7/20)

18 teams from 7 schools contested the annual Philadelphia City Championship, open only to teams from the city of Philadelphia itself. It was a fun-filled day that breezed by quickly. Major props go to hosts Carver HSES and Coach Hogan for running an exemplary tournament.

Stats can be found here.

Tournament champions Friends Select A

Friends Select A dominated the contest once again, cruising to a fifth consecutive city title and only being threatened once, in an 85 point win over Germantown Friends. After a relatively quiet fall from a perennial top-10 team in PA earlier this season, they seem to be getting better and better and will look to do damage during nationals season. Matt’s 67 points per game was third at the event among players that played the whole tournament, and Akilesh has become a deep threat himself, notching 51 PPG. Germantown Friends, Carver A, and Friends Select C finished in a three-way tie for second, thus all qualifying for HSNCT. Germantown Friends had players rotate on and off site over the day, but when at full strength were impressive. For a second-year team, their power rate is extraordinary, and they have multiple deep-threat buzzers. Friends Select C impressed with consistency and strong bonus conversion. I read for them several times, and I was impressed overall with their teamwork and poise during matches. While I didn’t see Carver A myself, other mods felt this was the best they’ve ever seen the school. They are still a young team and could challenge Friends Select’s streak as soon as next season. Carver’s Sebastian notched 72 points per game, which tied him with Bodine A’s Alex for tops at the tournament. Bodine A and FSS B rounded out the playoff teams.

The three co-second place teams pose together in a display of sportsmanship.

Elsewhere, Carver B and C finished tops among the consolation teams. Franklin Towne Charter, MaST, and Rush high schools also competed, and every single team won at least one game. While the consolation games might have been lower-scoring, they were just as intense among this group, with each buzz counting for more. I saw a number of these teams having a ton of fun, learning, and joking about both good and bad buzzes, which is always the best part of quizbowl. I look forward to seeing these players continue to buzz-in in Philadelphia and wherever their academic careers lead them in the future.


Penn State Spring Academic Bowl 2020 Wrap-Up (2/15/20)

Eleven teams were on hand to contest the title at Penn State’s latest tournament, held last Saturday. It was a low-key day filled with solid play. IS-191A was used.

Stats can be found here.

State College “A” and “B”

State College high fielded five teams on the day, and they secured three of the top four places. Continuing an unfortunate tradition of not labeling their teams in order from strongest to weakest, their “B” team won the event behind Albert’s 170 points per game. He is a monster on the buzzer and has clearly mastered the A-set difficulty. Meanwhile, State College “A” took second, losing only to the “B” team. They were very balanced, with all players notching at least 17 ppg and Allen coming in at 75. Elmira New York’s Notre Dame took 3rd. They had some nice powers this event, and it’s always nice to see some out of state teams add variety to Pennsylvania events. State College “D” took 4th.

Greenwood A took 5th in their first tournament of the season. It was nice to see them again, and this senior heavy team performed quite impressively, notching 28 powers and employing fantastic buzzer discipline with just four negs. Though senior heavy, building quizbowl culture is key and Greenwood is on the right track to continue rising in the ranks as a program. Circuit regular Huntingdon also came, and performed very well despite being without their best player. The one-two punch of Elizabeth and Jack both finished in the top 10 overall scorers for the tournament. They will be formidable at small school nationals in April. Lastly, St. Joseph’s, a local area team, played their first tournament off of novice questions. While there was some adjustment, they still performed well and each one of their seven players got at least one good buzz in. Teams like these three are always nice to see, as each player brings something interesting to the table and the different combinations are fun to see play out.

Greenwood A before the afternoon games.

I had a good time moderating at this event, and it looked like the students were having fun. Next stop: the Philadelphia city championships in early March.


Carnegie Quiz III Wrap-Up (2/15/20)

The third annual Carnegie Quiz tournament took place at the CMU campus in Pittsburgh yesterday, featuring 21 teams from 13 schools. The event used the NAQT IS-190 question set.

Stats are here.

Members of Allderdice A and B after the tournament

First place went to George Washington (WV), whose undefeated record was most seriously threatened by Allderdice A in the 370-310 final game. With a balanced core of Truman, Simon, and Sam supported by Teadora in the prelim matches, Allderdice A broke 300 points per game (PPG) every round and finished with 20.41 points per bonus (PPB).

Third place went to Pittsburgh Central Catholic in their highest finish this year. Jude and Joe (10th and 13th in individual prelims PPG) combined with teammates Nathan, Xander, and John to come within 70 of beating George Washington in round 3. Allderdice B was led by Michal and Omri with contributions from Antonia and Jonah, taking fourth place with the most powers of any PA team (49). They put up an incredible 10 powers in a 395-195 win over fifth place Kiski, which consisted of Eddie playing solo. Eddie scored 27 powers to only 6 negs over 9 games and was the only triple-digit individual scorer in the field. Winchester Thurston finished in sixth, playing with their full A-team lineup for the first time this year. Though their winning streak from the prelim rounds did not continue in the afternoon, Johnny, CB, Andy, and Ben kept all their games relatively close and managed a 20.37 PPB, the third highest in the tournament. With more practice competing together, they seem poised to perform well at their fourth SSNCT in April.

Central Catholic

Mt. Lebanon A finished at the top of the first consolation bracket, unfortunately kept out of the championship bracket by two morning losses by margins of under 50 points. Mt. Lebanon B was led by star player Antonio, whose 31/36/16 stat line included a 6/7/0 showing against Morgantown A (WV). Andrew, Ishika, and Cameron of Shady Side performed well on their first regular-difficulty set of the year, while Hampton A, led by Tad and Hayden, rounded out the bracket.

The remaining two brackets featured teams from aforementioned schools as well as Archbishop Ryan (on a trip over from Philadelphia), 2020 SSNCT competitor Sharpsville, and other Pittsburgh circuit regulars Penn Hills and Kane. While the IS set had a variety of difficult answerlines and challenging bonus parts that led to relatively low scoring totals, all the teams put themselves to the test and competed admirably.

I had a great time directing this tournament and enjoyed getting to watch talented players perform well on a challenging set! I look forward to seeing many of these teams at Pitt’s Battle of the Burgh next month.


Big Lake Brawl IV (2/1/2020) Wrap-Up

Wallenpaupack High School in Hawley, PA hosted their fourth annual Big Lake Brawl tournament this past Saturday, attracting teams from eleven schools across four states. The day’s full stats can be found here.

As has unfortunately often happened at many Pennsylvania tournaments this season, out-of-state teams topped the proverbial podium, as Ridgewood A, Ithaca A, and Ridgewood B finished in the trophy spots. Moravian A represented Pennsylvania’s top squad by finishing in fourth place. Most of their 8 wins came by comfortable margins and they played Ridgewood A close, falling by a 330-390 final score. Alex continues to have a strong season as the team’s leader, and Angela and Neil each contributed over 30 PPG as well. Based on the teams that made the playoff bracket, Emmaus A was the second-highest finisher among PA teams. Another balanced squad here, as Shreya, Jack, Aidan, and Ishaan each scored at least 19 PPG. They also notched a nice 285-175 victory over Wilton to cap off their day.

The two improving teams from Delaware Valley were next up. The B team technically finished higher by virtue of making the playoff bracket, where they also defeated Wilton for their lone upper bracket victory. Lucas led the way for this team with his 43 PPG. The DV A team ran the second bracket to finish with 7 wins, as Darius, Adam, and J.D. each topped 30 PPG.

Lakeland A finished with a winning record at 5-4 behind a strong outing from David. A mostly-two-man Wallenpaupack A house team also did nicely, led by an impressive 98.89 PPG from Gavin, including 31 powers. Emmaus B rounded out the second bracket, with lead scorer Tom averaging 37.14 PPG.

Moravian B topped the final bracket with a 5-0 record behind Samit’s 82 PPG in the rebracketed games. Wallenpaupack B, Lakeland C and B, and teams from Berwick‘s middle and high schools rounded out the field.

Congratulations to all who participated, and we hope to see this teams continue improving!