“Being a nerd really pays off sometimes.” – Ken Jennings, 74 time Jeopardy winner.
I love Jeopardy!. No, I am not a grumpy geriatric, but I do like trivia and cursing out contestants for wrong answers. (“C’mon, Susan! You’re a librarian from Wisconsin, how did you not know the answer was Wuthering Heights?”) I love Alex Trebek and his mustache and the way he condescends to the contestants, even though I’m convinced he wouldn’t know the answers if they weren’t on the cue cards in front of him. Now, the numbers of my bucket list are arbitrary, except for this one. Being a Jeopardy contestant absolutely is ranked number one on my list of things to accomplish.
Once a year, Jeopardy! hosts the online audition. Taking the test is absolutely free, but there is only a short window of opportunity to take it. There are 50 questions and it takes about 12 minutes. This year, I took the test. The frustrating part is that they don’t tell you if you passed or how many questions you got right. I think I scored a little over 50%, if I’m honest. (It was 11PM on a weeknight and my eyes were glazing over and I didn’t study and other excuses!)
While this year may not be my year, here are some Jeopardy! winning tips from the champion Ken Jennings:
1. Practice your quick draw: “Nearly all the contestants know nearly all the answers nearly all the time. So it just comes down to buzzer mojo.” (Ken Jennings Reddit AMA)
2. Prepare in the nerdiest way possible: “I watched the show obsessively. This is pretty nerdy but I even watched it standing up behind my recliner at home, using one of my son’s toddler toys as a makeshift “buzzer.” (Insert dirty joke here.) My wife kept score for me. We made flash cards of presidents and “potent potables” and crap like that.”(Ken Jennings Reddit AMA)
3. Learn constantly: “Mostly, it comes down to curiosity. I think I’m a pretty inquisitive person about the world around me, so as a result I find myself learning new stuff no matter what I’m doing: watching an old movie on TV or doing a crossword puzzle or reading the back of a cereal box. There’s information all around us, if we’d only pay attention to it. It’s a state of mind more than anything else.” (Ken Jennings Website)
And when in doubt, the answer is What is China?