All systems go for JV Academic Games team

Competition about to get underway in Kuwait


Photographer: Omar A.

JV Academic Gamers have been polishing their cognitive skills and polishing off brainpower pizza in preparation for their season-ending competition in Kuwait.

Ishwar K., Reporter

ASD Times published a previous piece on the JV Academic Games team’s preparations, and now the team is ready to compete!


Two teams of four students each will soon represent ASD in an Academic Games tournament hosted by American International School-Kuwait. 

On every day except on PACT Tuesdays, the selected students have practiced for an hour after school by creating mock tournaments between the two teams using questions from past years’ tournaments.

How do Academic Games teams compete?  

There are two teams of four students each from different schools competing during the annual tournaments. 

Trivia questions are asked, and any student from either team can activate their buzzer — known as “buzzing in” — at any time. The questions asked are related to a school subject; English grammar, literature, geography, and history are most frequently featured in these questions. However, material from nearly all school subjects has been asked in past competitions, such as math, drama, music, science, and PE. 

When a student activates their buzzer, their team has 15 seconds to answer the question to earn five points. If the team answers incorrectly, then the other team has a chance to steal the points by answering the question correctly within the next 20 seconds. If that team earns the points, a “bonus” question is granted where that team has 15 seconds to answer for another two points. The other team may not steal these points. Additionally, students can answer the question before it has been completely asked.  This can prove a risky strategy, since, while a team may earn the points quickly, they might also allow the other team to ‘steal’ if they answer incorrectly. 

At the end of a 15-minute round, the team with more points is declared the winner. 

Techniques and strategies

Practices have ramped up as the competion draws near, but so has the fun for serious Gamers.           Photographer: Omar A.

The time constraint of 15 minutes per round has led to teams developing techniques that go way beyond the classic idea of “get as many points as possible.” 

These techniques have often been devised during practice sessions that simulate a real competition, albeit with much longer rounds. One strategy to be used in the late stages of a round is the following: If a team is far behind, they should skip the bonuses. After answering a question, a team can simply ask to skip the corresponding bonus. The next question will then be read out. A team may do this because if they can score more points per minute with ordinary questions than during the bonuses. This strategy can increase the likelihood of an upset win.


Another strategy is also used occasionally: If a team is a good amount ahead, they often will buzz in very soon and waste 15 seconds. Despite giving the other team a free shot at 5 points, valuable time is often taken off the clock this way. Additionally, if the leading team does buzz in normally and have the correct answer, they may choose to wait until 13 to 14 seconds pass before answering — again to shave off more time.

ASD Academic Games teams are calculating, recalculating, carbo-loading, and sweating the details. They are ready to compete!       Photographer: Omar A.

Buzzing in before the question is fully read is surprisingly common because context clues can often be used to understand the question before it is completely read. Academic Gamer M. Middleton-Shelton (‘23) said that “As soon as we had enough information — or we felt as if we had enough — it was racing to the buzzers to see who would buzz in first.” The intuition of “how early is too early” is one that is developed through experience, which has been provided to the athletes extensively during their practices.

Stay tuned to see how ASD’s JV Academic Gamers’ learned schemes turn out. Good luck in Kuwait!

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