To Mark or Not To Mark?

At our quiz nights, the quizmaster and/or the quizmaster’s helper(s), does the marking. But I’ve been to many a pub quiz night in which the routine is for teams to swap papers and mark each others, and even quizzes when teams are trusted to mark their own quiz sheets.

In an earlier post about our crack squad of speedy and efficient quiz night assistants we wrote the following about teams swapping:

“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.” [and that one good marker could be the quiz master in many circumstances.]

In an exclusive extract from the QuizQuizQuiz QuizMaster guide (which is for internal use to help our professional Quiz Masters share ideas) this is what we say about marking:

“We do all the marking ourselves. Why? Because we’re better at it than other people. Swapping papers is just something we never have to do. Anything that involves other people takes away our professionalism increases the chances of bad feeling, and will not end up saving time, as every five seconds someone will want to know if they should give a point for x or y and if the spelling matters. To be fair, this is never really an issue. People usually take pleasure in seeing us mark quickly.

There is another slightly lateral, but arguably even more important, reason for us doing the marking. Many of our questions require teams to think very carefully about answers – and are designed to make them feel clever when they come up with the correct answer. Often they will not be 100% sure that they have the correct answer until we announce it. Now, if they are marking another team’s paper then they may see that this other team put the same answer as them. They will be much more sure they are right with this confirmation, and when the correct answer is read out they will cheer much less if at all. Multiply this to every team, and a guaranteed spontaneous cheer from the entire room could disappear completely.”

If you run a pub quiz night (or attend one), what is the form at your quiz night (and please tell us more in the comments!).

[poll id=’1′]

4 replies
  1. Joanna Gates
    Joanna Gates says:

    Always try and mark myself, but if swamped with loads of teams I will ask one of my regular teams to assist. Also will try to ensure that I mark all teams in with a chance of winning. Am specific about what is acceptable when asking the questions, eg a persons name, one pt for surname, 2 pts for first name as well, but nothing for first name only.

  2. Ian
    Ian says:

    I fully agree, I’m much faster than anyone else at marking, and I can be generous to poor teams with close answers, and harsh to the good teams.

  3. S512
    S512 says:

    I somewhat agree with this.

    Yes, if there are assistants helping the quiz, then the hosts should absolutely do their own marking. Properly done, this finishes when the answers are read, and everyone is happy without losing any pace.

    (To be fair, I don’t think that swapping is inherently going to sap cheers for a right answer. Just because you receive a different team’s sheet with the same answer doesn’t necessary mean that it’s confirmed to be right. But this is a minor quibble)

    Unfortunately, though, if you have a good quiz master who does not have the luxury of assistants, then some form of swap is useful. It has a nice benefit where people are actively engaged and listening to the answers. If your quiz master is really good, he can explain correct answers or instantly adjudicate borderline questions.

    At the place I favor, they swap team quizzes, make the teams grade each other, then collect the quizzes. The quiz master then reviews the scoring for accuracy.
    This avoids most of the inconsistency or and other issues cited above.
    I suppose you could argue this makes the swap/grade part either redundant or unnecessary, but it’s a nice social part of the game.

    (Of course, if you have a poor quiz master, or one that declines to double-check, then the scoring is going to be fraught with all the usual problems, and everything here stands). But, a good quiz master can still use the swap technique of grading, and still come up with a quality time for all.

  4. Ajay
    Ajay says:

    I’ve been doing pub quizzes here in India for about 3 years now, though its still picking up and not many pubs are keen. Don’t know why. Maybe people are still interested in Dancing/singing here and are not too intellectually inclined. Anyway, coming to the topic, I think teams swapping and correcting makes more sense since what I have seen is that some friendly banter is also exchanged between the teams when correcting. Also teams don’t go in a ‘switch off’ mode when they are involved in the correction. Plus even if they are assured of the correct answer when checking somebody else’s sheet, they are still Sharapova-esque loud. In the waiting period they can anyway confirm the answer with google.
    Also it saves time.


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