Fast Work

It’s obviously very nice when people come to you at the end of an evening and compliment you on the quality of the quiz. It’s particularly gratifying when they pick up on one of the elements that (we think) distinguishes a QuizQuizQuiz quiz from many other quizzes.

One of the most common things people commend us on is not even the quiz master him/herself, but the speed of our marking. When we run a quiz, it is imperative, however many teams there are, that the sheets are marked and the scores for the round ready to be announced by the time the quiz master has finished reading out the answers. So there is immediate feedback on performance when it is fresh, relevant and still exciting, no dead air, no time to wander off and become disinterested. What’s more annoying at a gig than the band spending minutes tuning up between songs?

Over the years, we’ve developed and trained a crack team of superfast, super-efficient markers at our QuizQuizQuiz Fast Track Academy (or something like that!). From a quiz for three teams to a quiz for sixty teams, we’ll make sure we’ve enough competent people to deal with it and keep the quiz running smoothly. Up to around eight teams can, if needs be, be handled by an experienced quiz master on his or her own with no delay to the quiz (though a helper is probably preferred so that the QM doesn’t get too frazzled), up to around twenty by one fast marker, after which it gets exponentially trickier.

Occasionally, a client might simply expect that teams swap sheets at the end of a quiz, as is common practice at pub quizzes. We never do this at a QuizQuizQuiz event. It allows inconsistency, foul play, all kinds of grounds for querying, makes players work when they should be having fun, and is, simply, not as professional. It is also no quicker, if not indeed slower, than having one good marker doing all the sheets.

So how do we keep the quiz flowing with fast marking?

Well, we encourage the teams to be legible, to remember to put their team name at the top, and we cajole them to get their answers in well within the time limit so that the marker can get a headstart.

We want our marker to have a tidy table in front of them and a good system, to know exactly what the round is out of, to be familiar with the questions and to know what variables might be allowed. Indeed the marker has to make their own answer sheet (with help from the quiz master if required) to become really familiar with the answers.

We want them to be unflustered and neat, to be able to communicate clearly with the quiz master at all times, to check their working and, of course, to be competent at basic maths. At the same time part of the skill of our professional quiz masters is to pace the quiz and the giving out of answers in a way that is both natural but also appropriate for allowing the scores for the round to be ready on time.

I remember the first time I attended a QuizQuizQuiz pub quiz, I was amazed at the speed of the marking, but once you get used to doing it, it’s really not that exceptional, just a good, solid system. Sure – it’s more expensive to have a helper, but we think it makes our quizzes better and we are happy that our clients recognise this as well in the quality of our quiz events.

Likewise, I gave a friend who was running a quiz this week a few tips, and the first thing he thanked me for was the instructions on having a helper doing the marking.

To me, it’s a vital part of a good quiz experience.

How does it work at your regular pub quiz? (either that you attend or run?)

4 replies
  1. Ian
    Ian says:

    I do the marking myself, although I’ve never done a quiz for more than about 25 teams, and my current pub’s average is about 11, most of whom are regulars of years’ standing. There’s usually a few minutes between rounds, mainly because a couple of teams almost always take loads of time.

    Eventually I just stand behind them and whinge at them, that usually works. Ten questions including multi-pointers can be marked easily in 30 seconds at the very most, people like a cig/drink/toilet break anyway!

    • admin
      admin says:

      I think most pub quizzes will either swap or quiz master does the marking him/herself.

      The important thing, I suppose, is to do what works best for your quiz night and for the expectations of the participants.

  2. QuizMistress
    QuizMistress says:

    I think the answers are the most exciting part of a quiz, and it’s much more exciting for a team if the QuizMaster can build up tension just before revealing an important answer. If teams swap papers, read their opponents’ and mutter “of course” when they see answers they themselves did not get, the QuizMaster loses control over the correct answers and is deprived of the ability to drop them on the expectant crowd at exactly the right moment to extract the biggest, and happiest cheer.

    Also, a corporate client expects a slick, fast-paced operation. To swap answers can be clumsy and slow.

    • David B
      David B says:

      Another down side of swapping papers is that you lose control of consistency in marking if two teams choose to mark each other’s papers in a ‘friendly’ fashion, whereas a neutral marker irons out any such discrepancies.


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