Quiz Bowl Rules

 The Full history of rule changes can be found here.

The full rules can be downloaded here.

General Rules

 1. Each match will be played between two teams, consisting of any number of students from the high school that represents the team. Each team may also be accompanied by a number of coaches.
 2. Only four players from a team may be active at any time, and only active players may signal to answer a tossup or confer on a bonus.
 3. Unlimited player substitutions are allowed in a match, but they may only be made during a called timeout, at halftime, or before any tiebreaking questions.
 4. Each team will designate one player to be a team captain. The captain is responsible for providing the team's answer to bonus questions and will sit in the second chair in from the middle aisle.
 5. Each match will be overseen by a moderator, who is responsible for reading questions to the participating teams, and who may be assisted by a scorekeeper.
 6. Matches will be played using a functional lockout buzzer system. In the event that a fully functional system is not available, players may signal their intent to answer using other methods – including, but not limited to, saying "buzz" or slapping the table. In such     instances, the moderator will be the final judge of who signaled first.
 7. An official clock will be kept which must be visible to all active players for both teams. The clock will preferably have an audible alarm which sounds when the timer finishes.
 8. Players may use blank office/lined paper and pencils; these materials will not be provided.
 9. All players, coaches, and spectators are expected to behave responsibly and respectfully towards tournament officials and all other individuals present.
 10. Hallways must remain clear before, during, and after competitions. Unless watching a match in progress, teams should not report to their competition room until 5 minutes before scheduled start time, in order to maintain reasonable noise levels.
 11. If a tournament official finds that an individual has behaved inappropriately, that individual will receive a warning. Repeated instances will result in expulsion from the match, unless the tournament director deems some other sanction appropriate.
 12. Matches must begin no later than 5 minutes after the assigned match time. Teams must be in the assigned room no later than 5 minutes after the assigned match time; failure to appear on time results in a forfeit/loss.
 13. Any decisions made by the tournament director or any designated assistants thereof are final.


14. Each match will consist of two 15-minute halves, or until all of the tossups in the packet and any subsequent bonuses have been read, whichever comes first. There is a total of 20 toss-up questions and 20 bonuses per round. An additional question is reserved if needed for a tiebreaker.
15. At the end of the first half, there will be, at most, a 3-minute intermission for halftime.
16. Each team is allowed one timeout per half. Timeouts will be, at most, 1 minute long. A captain or coach may call a timeout for their team prior to the beginning of a tossup question.
17. The timer for each half will start as the moderator reads the first syllable of the first tossup question of the half.
18. When the official clock signals the end of time, the current tossup-bonus cycle will be finished, following which the current half will end. In particular:
      a. If the moderator has begun to read a tossup, the moderator will finish reading the tossup, giving teams the normally allotted time to answer the question. A bonus question is awarded, if appropriate, after which the half will end.
      b. If the moderator has finished a tossup, but a team has earned a bonus question, that question will be read as normal, after which the half will end.
      c. If the moderator has begun reading a bonus, the moderator will finish reading the bonus, giving the appropriate team time to answer as normal, after which the half will end.
      d. For these purposes, only the text of the question as written counts; preliminary statements – including, but not limited to, "next question," "tossup 20," etc. – do not count as beginning a tossup.
19. The team with the most points at the end of the match wins. If the score is tied, tossup questions will be read off the clock until the tie is broken by any change in the score, positive or negative.


20. Active players from both teams may signal to answer a tossup once the moderator has begun reading it. Each team is allowed at most one attempt to signal to answer a tossup; any subsequent attempts will be ignored.
21. When a player signals and their light illuminates (buzzer sounds), they are officially recognized and may proceed with answering the question. If a player answers a question without being recognized, the answer will be ignored.
22. If a player signals before a tossup is finished, the moderator will stop reading and receive the player's answer. If the player is incorrect, and the other team has not also signaled to answer, the moderator will resume reading the question for the other team, beginning at a natural point at or shortly before the point at which the player signaled to answer.
23. A player who signals has 3 seconds after being recognized to begin answering a tossup. If the player does not begin answering in time, their response is treated as incorrect.
24. Players have 5 seconds to signal after the moderator finishes reading a tossup question. Any attempts to signal after time has been called will be ignored. The 5-second clock does not restart for the second team to signal, if the first team to signal answers incorrectly. Only the remaining seconds will be on the clock for the second team to signal.
25. A correct answer to a tossup question earns 10 points for the signaling player's team. The first incorrect answer given before a tossup question is finished being read results in a 5-point penalty for the signaling player's team. Any other incorrect answer results in no point penalty.
26. Players may not confer, whether through verbal, nonverbal, or written methods, about the content of a tossup question or its answer. Any such conferral is treated as an incorrect answer at the time it occurs. However, players may gesture to communicate other things without penalty, as long as no substantive information about the content of the tossup is exchanged.


27. A team will be awarded a bonus for any tossup question which its players answer correctly, except in tiebreaking situations. Only that team will have an opportunity to answer the bonus. The bonus includes three (3) parts, each worth 10 points.
28. Teams may confer on the bonus, both verbally and nonverbally, and are encouraged to do so. The team captain is expected to provide the team's answer to the moderator, though the captain may verbally defer to another teammate, who will then provide the answer instead.
29. Teams will have 5 seconds to answer after the moderator finishes reading the bonus, unless otherwise stated in the question. Any answer to a bonus provided after the moderator calls time is treated as incorrect.
30. Each correctly answered bonus part earns 10 points. An incorrect response is worth no points.

Correct Answers

31. A response is deemed correct if it demonstrates clear and unambiguous knowledge of the answer given in the moderator's question packet. In most circumstances, the necessary elements of an answer will be underlined and/or bolded.
32. If a player provides a partial answer, or correct and relevant information that is ambiguous as to the actual answer, the moderator will prompt the player for more information without specifying what additional information is required.
33. A player who is prompted on a bonus may quickly confer with teammates before providing extra information.
34. The moderator will only accept the first given response, unless the question calls for multiple answers.
35. If neither team correctly answers a question in the allotted time, the moderator will state the correct answer for both teams before moving on to the next question.
36. If the moderator accidentally reveals any part of the correct answer to a question before it has been answered, the question will be thrown out and replaced with another question of the same type. If a tossup answer was revealed after one team answered incorrectly, the replacement will be read for the other team only.


37. Only the acceptance, non-acceptance, or non-prompting of a given answer to any question, or an error in the official clock or score, is protestable.
38. An active player or coach must quickly and verbally announce their intent to lodge a protest after the question in dispute is finished. The judge will verbally acknowledge the protest, record which question is being protested, and how many points are potentially at stake in the protest. If necessary, this may be calculated off the clock.
     a. If the total points at stake in protests are enough to potentially change the winner of a match, or if the match goes to overtime, the judge will communicate all information related to the protest to the tournament director(s). Any protests which cannot affect the outcome of the match will revert to the judge's initial rulings.
     b. Any easily resolvable protest, such as an error in the official clock or score, will be resolved immediately instead of following the above procedure.
     c. If a protest is upheld, the moderator will attempt to rectify each effect of the error made. Any incorrectly awarded points will be removed, and any points which should have been awarded will be added. If a team was not appropriately given a chance to answer a tossup, the moderator will read a tossup for that team only, and any additional bonus questions will be read for the appropriate team.