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January 23, 2016

Tips for taking the Jeopardy! online test

randy keithEarlier today, I joined my friend Randy Gold to share some tips for taking the upcoming Jeopardy! online test. Here is a replay of the broadcast.

If you’re interested in our discussion of ‘hints’ within clues, check out this post.

As promised, we’ve put together a written summary of our discussion. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

Thanks to everyone who joined the broadcast and contributed to the discussion. Best of luck!

Things to do now

  • Register for the test. You can do that here; the options are Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. The tests are scheduled for different time zones, but you can take any that’s convenient for you.
  • Plan for the earliest test you can. If something comes up – your kid gets sick, your Internet goes out – you can postpone to another evening. Not so if something happens on Thursday.

At least one day before the test


  • Determine the best browser for your operating system. Take the official practice test on as many different browsers as you’d like until you find one that works – ideally, it will automatically place the cursor inside the text box, so you don’t have to click it every. single. time.
  • I have a Mac with El Capitan, and Chrome works well for me, but apparently it’s a different story with Windows 10.
  • Take a full-length practice exam under test conditions. YouTube has several past contestant exams; take at least one the same way you intend to take the actual test.
  • This will give you the opportunity to identify potential distractions: Is the cat bothering you? Are you hungry? Is your cell phone ringing? Better you know now than find out during the test!
  • Tell the people you live with that you’re taking the test. A single distraction could throw you off your game; let anyone who lives in your house that you need 15 minutes of peace and quiet at [insert time here].

30 minutes before the test

  • Restart your computer. This will clear out any background processes that might slow down your computer.
  • ­Remove any distractions. Mute your phone, have your spouse take the dogs for a long walk, make sure you’ve eaten, and so on.

Taking the test

The quiz has 50 clues in a variety of categories. You get 15 seconds for each; your response does not need to be in the form of a question. Some general tips:

  • Pay attention to the category. Sometimes important information might be included, or a special theme (as with BEFORE & AFTER and “S” WORDS).
  • Enter something for every clue. There is no penalty for guessing, and misspelling is all right so long as it doesn’t change the pronunciation.
  • Be as vague as possible. Don’t add a first name unless you really have to. Some people think the test avoids potentially confusing responses (such as a U.S. President with last name Johnson).
  • Do not hit the “Submit” button. When time’s up, the website will register whatever is typed in to the box. If you have time left over, take a deep breath and clear your mind for the next clue.
  • Forget about a clue as soon as you’ve answered it. This is especially true if you had no idea; unless you are Rain Man, you won’t be getting all 50.
  • Smile! Sure, you’ll get a miniature panic attack every time a clue pops up, but trivia is fun, and smiling will help with that.

For more details on how the writers sometimes include hidden hints, check out this post.

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