Academic Competition Federation

Packet Submission Guidelines

Last Updated: November 12, 2019

Table of Contents

Who needs to submit packets?

For ACF Fall and ACF Regionals, any team with at least two people on it who played a regular, collegiate, academic quizbowl tournament (either as a college student or as a high school student) the academic year two years prior to the current year, must submit a packet (e.g. any team with two players who played prior to September 1st, 2018 must submit a packet to compete in ACF tournaments in the 2019-2020 academic year.) Schools with multiple such teams must submit separate packets, and the teams cannot discuss the contents of their packets with each other.

The packet submission rules for ACF Nationals 2020 will be announced shortly.

What counts as a “regular, collegiate, academic quizbowl tournament”?

All ACF tournaments, NAQT Division I or Division II SCT, NAQT ICT, and typical academic invitationals and summer opens count as regular collegiate academic tournaments. Novice collegiate events with strict eligiblity requirements do not count as regular collegiate academic tournaments in determining packet requirement.

Pop culture or “hybrid” tournaments, College Bowl/HCASC, and tournaments played on NAQT “Invitational Series” questions do not.

This test is applied to each individual team, not to your school’s contingent as a whole. If you are unsure about whether you are required to write a packet, then please contact the ACF eligibility committee.

Sample packet

Want to know what a well-formatted packet looks like? Take a look at this sample packet.

Packet submission checklist

Victor Prieto of Penn State created a handy checklist of things to keep in mind when writing a packet to submit to an ACF tournament – please make sure your submitted packet checks all these boxes!

How to submit your packet

Document format

Please submit your packet as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file. Submit all questions in 10-point Times New Roman font. Your document should have 1-inch margins on all sides. PDFs, .odt, .html, .txt or any other formats are not acceptable.

If editors cannot open your packet on the first try, they will return your packet to you and have you re-send a fixed version before it is considered submitted for fee purposes.

Document Name

Please follow the following file-naming scheme when submitting packets:

<Tournament Name> <Year> – <School Name> <Team Name or Letter>

For instance, if UC Irvine’s A team is submitting a packet for 2015 ACF Regionals, it should be named:

ACF Regionals 2015 – UC Irvine A

Distribution

The submitted packet and final packet distributions for ACF tournaments may be found here.

Question-writing philosophy

Difficulty Level

Consult individual tournament announcements for difficulty guidelines.

Tossups

A simple, two-line description of good tossup writing:

Write your tossups on easier topics. Use challenging clues for the leadin, and use progressively easier clues. End your tossups with a giveaway that most in the field would know.

Do NOT write tossups which are:

  • Geared towards specific players. You should write your questions for a general audience.
  • Heavy on difficult or easy clues. Make sure you devote appropriate amounts of space to hard, medium, and easy clues.
  • On your pet topics or things which are likely to go unanswered. Dead tossups are the enemy of fun.

Bonuses

Nearly all bonuses should have 3 parts worth 10 points each. Bonuses should have:

  • An easy part – one which 90% of the field should be able to convert;
  • A ‘medium’ part – one which roughly 50% of the field should be able to convert; and
  • A ‘hard’ part – one which a person well-read in the subject of the should be able to convert. If you are unsure about the difficulty of a bonus you are writing, then you should err on the side of easier or write on something else entirely.

You may, very occasionally, write a bonus with four parts, two worth 5 and two worth 10.

We prohibit specific types of bonuses and levy penalties on teams that submit packets with prohibited formats. For more information, see the “Discounts/Penalties” section of these guidelines.

More guidance on writing questions

Please follow ACF formatting guidelines when formatting your packet.

Several ACF editors have provided tips on how to write good questions. Please consult the following guides:

Jerry Vinokurov’s Guide to Writing Questions is intended for newcomers and has guides on basic principles of good writing. Subash Maddipotti’s Tips on Question Writing provide excellent advice on what to avoid when writing questions. Andrew Hart’s Primer on Regular Difficulty is an excellent resource for teams writing questions for ACF Regionals (or a “regular difficulty” tournament.)

In addition to the above question-writing guides, we encourage you to consult old ACF events as writing models.

We recommend:

  • For ACF Fall-level difficulty – ACF Fall 2012, ACF Fall 2017, and ACF Fall 2018
  • For ACF Regionals-level difficulty – ACF Regionals 2010 and ACF Regionals 2019
  • For ACF Nationals-level difficulty – ACF Nationals 2017, ACF Nationals 2018, and ACF Nationals 2019

Discounts/Penalties

We offer discounts for early submission of packets, and levy a penalty for late packet submissions. The exact schedule will be set in each tournament’s announcement.

Gross deviation from packet-formatting guidelines: $50 penalty

Submission of prohibited types of questions: $25 penalty per question

Prohibited types of questions include:

  • Spelling questions, i.e. questions for which the answer involves spelling a word.
  • Binary matching questions, i.e. questions of the form “Given X, name Y” which do not have prose clues.
  • 5-10-15 bonuses, i.e. bonuses whose hard-parts are worth 15 points. These questions should instead be changed to 10-10-10 bonuses.

Plagiarism

We do not tolerate plagiarism, and there will be consequences for any instances of plagiarism. Please refer to ACF’s policy on plagiarism.