Jeopardy! tryouts
April 2, 2005 12:24 PM   Subscribe

On March 31st at 7pm I recieved an email from Jeopardy! for the NY tryouts...after making sure it wasn't an early April Fools (it came from a totally legit email address) I went ahead and RSVP'd. Has anyone else gone through this?

Does anyone have any advice on what I should be prepared for? As long as they stay away from literature, I should be ok....

"your mother alex....I'll take your mother for $400"
posted by gren to Education (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A quick search yielded this AskMe thread covering a very similar discussion.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:54 PM on April 2, 2005

There'll probably be one or two literature questions, but there will be 50 questions on the written test, so missing one or two shouldn't kill your chances. Still, if it's a weak spot, boning up on literature a bit beforehand couldn't hurt, since the written test is not multiple choice.

It's pretty straightforward. After their intro and a little video of Alex Trebek telling you about the process, you'll take the written test. Those who pass the test (they only tell you pass/fail, not how many you got right) will stay and everyone else will leave. Those who stay will take part in mock shows, with clickers and several people asking "answers" for your "questions," just like on the real show. This part is just for them to gauge your personality, how you keep the game going, that sort of thing.

Everyone who passes the written test goes into the candidate pool for one year, during which time you may get a phone call inviting you to be on the show.

This is all assuming it hasn't changed since 2000, when I went through it.
posted by cerebus19 at 1:06 PM on April 2, 2005

Cerebus19, it has not changed...i took the written test in August 2004, played the mock game, and continue to wait for the phone call. The written test is a powerpoint presentation, you get 8 seconds per question. BTW, if it helps, I know i missed at least 3 questions.

Good Luck gren.
posted by schyler523 at 1:38 PM on April 2, 2005

Whoo hoo.

I'll be there too. I am ready to get severely smoked by virtual Alex. I'll be at the 9am time slot.

Good luck!
posted by pencroft at 6:43 PM on April 2, 2005

Jeopardy Vet here. I took the test three times, and taped my show appearance in December. (Look for me on June 21, or you know, don't, it's up to you. Uh, anyway...)

A Jeopardy Contestant's Words of Advice to Those Trying Out for the Show:

- Wear something comfortable, including comfortable shoes. They say to dress as you would dress to appear on the show, but the dress code for the show has gone from dressy business to basic business and almost (but not quite) business casual, so there's some room for variance from suits and ties or skirts and heels.

- In addition to the test, you'll have several sheets of paper tof fill out. They give you a nifty pen (yours to keep!) and a piece of cardboard that's not terribly sturdy. You might want to consider bringing something more substantial to write on -- I put my purse under the cardboard, others had leather portfolios or notebooks. Any measure of extra comfort can only help.

- Arrive a little early. Better to wait outside than to show up running late. If you're not sure exactly where the tryout is (I'm guessing its a hotel?) call for directions. Trust me on this.

- Good penmanship helps a lot. Print if you can.

- Remember this: roughly 90% of the people who try do not pass the written portion of the test. My first tryout 11 people (all lawyers) passed out of 120. My second, 9 passed out of 100. The third and last time, 13 passed out of 125. Those who didn't pass the test included doctors, lawyers, PhD candidates, teachers, judges and all other manner of very "book smart" people. Don't feel bad for even half a second if you don't pass.

- If you do pass the written test, you play the mock game. The mock game is now played with fully functioning buzzers just like on the show and a giant screen that looks just like the game board on the show. At this point, they are looking for your TV presence. Be animated, smile, be happy, confident and look like you're enjoying yourself. Speak loudly and clearly. Look like someone you'd enjoy watching for 30 minutes or more. Remember the elation you felt when they called your name as a test passer and let that carry you through your mock game.

Fidgeting, leaning side to side, not speaking up, getting total flop sweat and otherwise looking like a goofus will significantly lessen your chances of getting the phone call to come to LA. Be like Fonzie. It ain't no big thing. It's a game. Play and enjoy yourself.

Let us know how things go!
posted by Dreama at 8:29 PM on April 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

The written test, by the way, is narrated by Johnny Gilbert.

You do get a neat Jeopardy! pen to write things down with, and to remind you how badly you did on it weeks later. At least, for me.

Cheryl, a member of the Clue Crew, calmed our nerves down a bit with a neat Q&A session while they were grading our written tests. They also did a random drawing for souvenir caps.
posted by icontemplate at 10:38 PM on April 2, 2005

And making it into the pool guarantees nothing. I've qualified all four times that I've tried, and have never been called.
posted by pmurray63 at 1:01 AM on April 3, 2005

Dreama gives good advice. I've always thought that there was no way to study for Jeopardy- How can you study general knowledge? I didn't study and passed the test. If I were to study anything, though, I would cultivate some general knowledge of Shakespeare and the Bible. Two frequent categories.
If you pass, let your personality shine through a bit during the mock-game (assuming you have a good one!). I think I got the call because I 1)moved the game along quickly by requesting a new clue right after giving a correct response, 2)smiled a lot, 3)seem cheerful and confident. Do these things and you stand a good chance.
Good luck!
posted by PhatLobley at 3:07 PM on April 3, 2005

Dreama does give good avice, as does PhatLobley. I'd recommend being at least minimally conversant with Shakespeare's plays, or at least the biggies (vague plot lines, principal characters' names), the Bible, US presidents, et cetera. There are also some J! standbys...anytime something is referred to as "Those Darn", it's usually about the Etruscans. Also, time is of the essence, but make sure you read the clue carefully...not every clue is looking for the piece of information that you think it'll be...and some clues give you another piece of information that helps you solve it.

That said, I don't think that it's really the kind of thing you can study for. When I tried out, there were people there cramming with almanacs and such, and that's just a waste of time IMHO. You either know this stuff, or you don't.

The test, as has been pointed out by many, is much harder than the game itself...reasonably-difficult questions in fifty different categories, instead of varied-difficulty questions in thirteen.

Have a good answer for the "what would you do if you won a lot of money on J!" question. I think probably that "travel" and "school" are good answers, but have something in mind.

In the mock game, be forward-looking. If you give the correct question, know where you're going next. Hesitation, hemming and hawing, or changing your mind are bad. Faster-paced games are more exciting to watch, and that's what they're after. Look like you're having fun. (It is fun, but make sure you look like you're enjoying yourself.)

Good luck and have fun! When I tried out (and then when I went on the show), my main thought process was "I'm doing this for the fun of it, to have a good time. If I don't do well on the game, at the very least I walk away with an interesting story." That kept me from fretting too much or getting too stressed out.
posted by Vidiot at 2:26 PM on April 4, 2005

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