How to Study for Jeopardy

Playing Trivial Pursuit Won't Prepare You for a Stint on Jeopardy

How to Study for Jeopardy

You'd be surprised at the number of people who visit this site for information about how to study for Jeopardy. But it's only fair to warn those people that playing Trivial Pursuit is probably not the best way to study for an appearance on the game show. This page provides some information about the Jeopardy game show in general, along with some insights and tips about how to study and prepare for a stint as a contestant on the show.

About Jeopardy

Merv Griffin created the game show Jeopardy in 1964. Several versions of the show aired throughout the 1960's and the 1970's, some during the day, but some during prime time, too. Alex Trebek took over as host in 1984, and in the almost three decades since, Jeopardy has become one of the most popular television game shows in history.

Jeopardy features three contestants who answer questions (in the form of a question) during three rounds. The game features a grid where players can choose clues from six different categories--each category has five questions with various dollar amounts attached to them. After the host reads the question aloud, the contestants have the opportunity to buzz in and answer. If they get the answer right, they get the corresponding dollar amount. The winner of each episode gets to come back for the next episode, to face two new contestants.

The gimmick behind the show is that instead of answering questions, the contestants get the answers, and they have to phrase their answer in the form of a question. The dollars won on each episode are kept by the winner of each episode. The losers receive consolation prizes. In earlier years, there were limits to the number of episodes a contestant could win and to the total dollar amount a contestant could win. Those limits were eliminated in 2003.

How to Become a Contestant on Jeopardy

To become a contestant on Jeopardy, you have to take a 50 question quiz. If you don't get at least 35 answers correct, you don't get to be on Jeopardy. But even if you do get 35 questions correct, you still have to participate in mock games and get chosen by the show-runners to compete.

If you want to be a contestant on Jeopardy, dress conservatively. It's a family show, and if you go to the quiz and/or the mock games dressed as a clown or wearing something outlandish, you won't be chosen to appear on the show. The show-runners will remind you to dress as you would if you were on an actual episode of the show.

Practice your poise and charm skills before the mock games too. These guys are producing a television show, and they're looking for contestants who will be entertaining. If you're sullen and never smile during the mock games, the producers might decide that you won't do well on television, and you won't get your chance to be on the show.

Visit Jeopardy's official site for more information about becoming a contestant. (Click on the "Be a Contestant" link in the top menu bar.

How to Win on Jeopardy

Winning at Jeopardy is not just a matter of having a solid knowledge base, although that is part of it. A lot of times, all three contestants will know the right answer, but you only get credit if you're the first person to ring the buzzer and answer. Practice ringing in quickly with the answer. If you're slow to the buzzer, you won't stand a chance of winning on Jeopardy.

Making intelligent wagers during the final Jeopardy round are important too. For example, if you have $10,000, and the other two players have $2000 or $3000, they can only beat you if you wager enough money that a combination of a wrong answer from you and a right answer from them will put you over the top. If you wager $1 and lose, you still have a total of $9999. Even if the player with $3000 bets it all and gets the right answer, you'll still win the match. So think about how much to bet on final Jeopardy before placing the bet. Take into account how much you know about the category too. If you're weak in geography and history, you might consider making a more conservative wager.

You could also try practicing by learning how to play Jeopardy online.

That being said, you should study so that you have a good chance of knowing the answers to the questions.

What to Study

One of the obvious things to do if you want to get on Jeopardy and win is search Amazon for books about Jeopardy. You'll probably find copies of The Jeopardy Book and How to Get on Jeopardy and Win available, although they might have more books than just those. Invest in those books. Forewarned is forearmed, so your chances of winning will be better if you get the basics out of the way.

Other than that, you should focus on having a well-rounded education. If you went to college and got a liberal arts degree, then you'll be one up on a lot of people, although autodidacts will do well. Some of the subjects you should be familiar with include:

  • Literature
  • Geography
  • History
  • Celebrities
  • Art
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Religion

I'd suggest boning up on the areas where you're weak. For example, if you have a Masters degree in literature, and you've read everything by Shakespeare, you probably don't need to study that. But on the other hand, you might be weak in geography or celebrities. A little bit of intelligent reading and study will help fill in the gaps in your knowledge. If you have time, consider a look at some free college classes.

The British royal family are often subjects of Jeopardy questions, as are the families of the various American presidents. Movie stars and films are also popular subjects, so consider reading some of the better books about film history and Hollywood.

The "for Dummies" series of books is a good starting point for subjects you're unfamiliar with. So are the "Idiot's guide" books. Figure out where you're weak, and spend your time shoring up your knowledge of those subjects.

And that's the best information I can offer you about how to study for Jeopardy.

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