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How to study for the Jeopardy online test – Part I

Posted October 16th, 2011 in Jeopardy by dan

In case you missed my guide for how to become a Jeopardy contestant you can find it linked there. That will give you some background information on how to get started on a contestant application/audition.

In fifteen minutes or less your entire fate is decided. It may sound crazy, but this is the amount of time you have to make or break yourself on the Jeopardy online test. The questions zoom by at an absolutely dizzying pace, so don’t even think about Googling the answers. You won’t have time. (Oh yeah, plus that’s cheating..)

I don’t care if this sounds trite, but the key to passing the online test is preparation. Honestly, I think very few people are naturally gifted enough to have enough knowledge and background to wing the test without any kind of studying. If you do, more power to you.

However, this is a test that can be studied for despite what anyone tells you. The same subject matter (read: categories) show up over and over again.

Here is the format if you’re not familiar:

  • Flash, web-based test
  • 50 questions, 10/15? seconds each
  • Category box on one side (READ THE CATEGORY!), question on the other
  • Test automatically accepts whatever you have in the answer box, so don’t hit enter because it will give you less time to think/catch up

As I mentioned in my previous Jeopardy post, there are three tests every year. The kind people on the official Jeopardy forums (currently down for maintenance – or maybe dead) always take the time to capture the previous tests and their answers. This is hands down the best way to study by using the previous tests to familiarize yourself with the phrasing and subject matter of the tests. History will repeat itself, and you’ll get a reassuring sense of deja vu. Sometimes the content and subject matter is even exactly the same.

Without further ado, here are links to the past tests — take note as you look through them of recurring categories and subject matter.

2006

The tests weren’t tracked too closely in 2006. But here is a partial list of questions from a blog.

WARNING! — the following links are not working right now. I have no idea if Sony intends to bring its message boards up (it appears they have been down for several months), but I will keep them up in the event the board resurfaces.

2007

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

2008

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

2009

Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

Jeopardy official practice test

This is Jeopardy’s official test to prepare

My advice to you is to print these out individually, and take them with limited time (answers not showing, obviously). Then check your answers against theirs. Remember, there is not “passing score” per se – but if you’re getting fewer than 35/50 right, you are in the danger zone and are unlikely to beat the thousands of others taking the test.

Once you have a sense of what categories (or news topics) are asked about most frequently, assess what your gaps in knowledge are. If, for example, you notice that you got every music question wrong, go find lists of famous composers/compositions to study. Or almanac information on bestselling pop artists. However you do it, find a source that will provide at least 80% of the information that would have gotten you the answer. For further study resources, see my recommended reading section.

My last recommendation is to be realistic about your chances. If you take one of the past tests and only get five questions right – either study more (and give yourself another year, perhaps), or focus your attempts on another show. Jeopardy requires a lot of knowledge beforehand, so be forewarned. But hey, the test is only 15 minutes of your time, so you may as well take it for fun anyway! It always gets my heart pounding…

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