The round starts with the moderator reading the first tossup. A tossup is the basis of Quiz Bowl, a question consisting of anywhere from around 5-10 sentences. At any point during the tossup, a player may “buzz” in and answer. However, a player is not allowed to converse with their teammates. In one game, there are typically 21 tossups, although this may vary.
- If the answer given is too vague or needs to be elaborated on (ie. John Adams), a player may be prompted for a more specific one. Rarely, if a player is too-specific, they may be anti-prompted.
- If the player answers the question incorrectly, it is counted as a "neg", minus 5 points for the player’s team. Once a team has “neg-ed,” they are no longer allowed to answer and the moderator continues reading for the other team if they are still able to answer. However, if the question has finished reading, there is no penalty.
- If the player answers the question correctly, they score 10 points for their team (an additional 5 points may be awarded for buzzing in early and answering before a designated place in the tossup, this is called a power). Furthermore, the team receives an additional bonus question.
After a team has correctly answered a tossup, a bonus question is read to them and them only. A bonus question consists of 3 parts that follow a theme. Each part has its own question and is worth 10 points.
Bonus questions tend to be more specific and, sometimes, obscure. Bonuses are important because, if your bonus conversion is good, you have the opportunity to earn up to 30 additional points.
For both bonuses and toss-ups, only the correct answer will be accepted. However, if a person answers with something that is closely related with the correct answer, they should be prompted.
The winner is determined by the score at the end of a round of questions. If, however, the score is even between the two teams, an additional 3 questions will be read to break the tie.