Common Problems/Good Reminders:  These suggestions are brought to you by the Academic Competition Advisory Committee and the MSHSAA AC Rules Interpreters to assist you in training your teams. 

No conferring:  Conferring includes talking, peeking at scratch paper, signaling to team members (raising buzzer to show that player will answer).  [See Conferring – page 10, Item J, Penalties, #1


Clarification:  In instances where a team inappropriately confers during the reading or answering of a toss-up, the moderator shall determine the course of action depending upon the situation.



a.   If answer is not ‘spoiled’ – the question could be offered to the opposing team.

b.   If the answer is inadvertently given, a replacement question would be used, and the offending team would not have an opportunity to answer.

c.   Penalize on the current question if possible, but if the scenario does not allow this, the moderator should use a replacement question.


Scratch paper:  Must remain blank until the moderator signals the start of the match.  Blank paper is to be provided to substitutes.


Significant answer:  “Um, um” is not a significant answer.  “X equals” is not a significant answer.  “Three…” is a significant answer if the player continues  “… hundred and fifty two” for example.


Substitutions  A substitution may not occur at the quarter unless a coach takes a time out.  A substitution may be made:

a.   during a 60 second time-out (called by either team)

b.   during a 30 second time-out (called by either team)

c.   during half-time


Moderator Reminders:

Don’t:   “Oh, so close, but incorrect”

Do:      Stop reading IMMEDIATELY when the buzzer sounds

Don’t:   Make side comments, jokes, editorial comments on the questions, etc.  This is both annoying and time-consuming.

Do:      Act in a very professional manner and stick to the questions

Do:      Keep distractions in the room in-check.  Repetitive sighs, or intentional throat-clearing can be districting, annoying, or may be a signal to a team.

Do:      Read calculation questions slowly, with hesitation “commas” inserted in appropriate places.

Don’t:   Allow a player to start over on a spelling answer.  Spelling answers cannot be corrected.

Do:      Allow a player to write down a spelling answer after providing a significant answer (the first letter) within the first 3 seconds.  The entire verbal answer must be given in the allotted time. 


Spotter:  Don’t clear the buzzer system after the toss-up questions in the 2nd and 4th quarters.  This blocks out buzzers from the other team during the bonus questions. 


TimerBonus Timing, Rulebook, page 5:  The team will have ten (10) seconds after the reading of the question to complete the team’s response.  EXCEPTION:  If the question involves calculation or spelling, the team will have fifteen (15) seconds after the reading of the question to complete the team’s response.  The captain may answer or he/she may defer to another player, but the same timing rules apply either way.  Please note that the ‘deferral’ may take some extra time.