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Question Setter Guidance

Guidance for Question Setters (1987)

[Significant changes from the 1985 version are highlighted.]

All question setters are advised to read through these notes prior to 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 to say "I'm sure that it's OK I saw it on the back of a matchbox". You must be able to give an up to date reference.
d) Make sure that your reference books are up to date. Most current facts and figure can always be checked by the Pears Cyclopedia, there is a current edition in Macclesfield Library. Use an up to date Atlas, remember the Empire is not as big as it used to be.
e) Questions should always be typed or neatly handwritten. If you have problems with photocopying the requisite number of sets of questions, contact a member of the committee. Try and keep each specialist round on a separate sheet.
f) If you want the teams not to use pen and paper, say so. They should normally be able to do so even for spelling questions.
g) Make sure that if you use Technical or Foreign phrases in the question indicate how the question master is to pronounce it. The normal method is to indicate same in brackets (par-en-thi-sees).
h) The Arts & Entertainment round should contain a variety of subject matters. Setting obscure pop music questions throughout gives very few people pleasure.
i) In the Science round, questions should not be so complicated that only someone with a degree in Astro Physics can tell whether the answer given is correct. Use an up to date reference book and make sure the answer you want is clearly stated. Try and avoid asking lots of historical science questions.
j) Always make sure that in the sports round that the answer you are asking for did not change two days before. Records are always being broken. If you want to ask this kind of question, then date it. "As at ... "
k) Remember that in the Specialist rounds teams should be able to make a stab at the right answer. Don't ask obscure questions just to show off your own knowledge. Check with your team colleagues and if they can't answer it, then think about discarding that question.
l) Last year when assembling the questions for the finals, there were two questions asking for the collective nouns for elephants, with two completely different answers given. Nouns of venery are all very well but they are not generally "guessable" and not very interesting.

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