Macclesfield Quiz League
Sponsored by AstraZeneca

You are here:

Question Setter Guidance

Guidance for Question Setters (1985)

At this year's AGM much of the nights business arose from matters relating to poor question setting. Again the famous 'nine banded armadillo' cropped up, and it was universally agreed that to help teams avoid many of the pitfalls of question setting, a set of notes for the guidance of question setters be compiled. I have therefore put down the following points, many of which may be obvious to the 'old hands' amongst us but I hope they highlight some of the areas quich have given cause for concern in the past.

All question setters are advised to read through these notes prior to them setting their questions, and perhaps again when the set of questions is complete.

a) Do not include questions with multiple answers. It is not a good idea to ask for all the names of the seven dwarves. However you could give the names of six of them and ask for the seventh.
b) Make sure YOU understand the question before you write it. Don't be longwinded and make sure the question master knows the answer you want. It is often a good idea to give a little supplementary information with the answer. It often makes it clearer and adds to the evening.
c) Always make sure you are able to give references. Should a question be challenged and subsequently brought before the committee it is not enough for the question setter to say "I'm sure it's right, I saw it on the back of a matchbox", or "you can look it up in any reference book in the library". You must be able to produce an up to date written reference.
d) Make sure that your reference books are up to date. Most curent facts and figure can always be checked by the Pears Cyclopedia, there is a copy in Macc. Library. Us an up to date atlas for geography questions, remember the Empire is not quite as large now as it looks in your old school atlas.
e) Questions should always be typed or neatly hand printed. Last year this was usually done, it was the quality of reproduction which left a lot to be desired. You only have to set questions once a year, so if you don't have access to a good photocopier, don't mess about with carbon paper and the likes, shell out a little money and take it to a jobbing printer in Macc. who will photocopy it for you. You need to produce four sets of questions per league, so you need 12 sets in all. Try and keep each specialist area on a separate sheet. Going to a little extra trouble could save a lot of hassle on the night.
f) In question setting, if you want competitors not to be able to use a pen and paper(for example mental arithmetic), say so. They should normally be able to use one, even for spelling questions.
g) Make sure that if you use Technical phrases/foreign languages/latin etc., in the question that the question master knows how to pronounce it. If he may be in doubt help him by spelling phonetically in brackets.
h) The Arts round should now be labelled The Arts & Entertainment, and should contain a wide variety of questions. Setting obscure pop music questions throughout it gives very few people pleasure.
i) This year more than others, complaints were made about the Science round. There were moves afoot to replace it, but finally it was decided to leave it in for one more year and see if the standard of question setting in this area improved. Questions should not be so complicated that only someone with a degree in Astro physics could answer it. Use an up to date source of reference and make sure that the answer you want is clearly stated. So often in science questions the answer can be expressed in several ways. So if you want it in pounds/square inch say so. Also try not to ask lots of historical science, i.e. who invented what in 1885 etc.
j) Always make sure that in the sports round that the answer you are asking for has not recently changed, or might change two days before the questions are asked. Records are being broken every day, and football managers change like the wind.
k) Remember that in the Specialist rounds teams should be able to make a reasonable stab at the answers. We are all out to enjoy ourselves, and setting specialist rounds on really obscure subjects gets everyone fed up. Ask the rest of your team the questions first, and if they can't get any of them, throw them out and rewrite them.

As a final reminder, your attention is drawn to the new rule this year which allows teams to award marks for the standard of questions set during the evening. The committee very much hope that during the coming year we shall see sets of well balanced and interesting questions.

© Macclesfield Quiz League 1985 and 2019