Packet Submission Guidelines
Last updated: February 24, 2021
Table of Contents
- Who needs to submit packets?
- Sample packet
- Packet submission checklist
- How to submit your packet
- Question-writing philosophy
- More guidance on writing questions
Who needs to submit packets?
For ACF Winter and ACF Regionals
Any team with at least two people on it who played a mainstream, collegiate, academic quizbowl tournament prior to September 1 of the previous academic year is required to submit a packet.
For example, any team with two players who played prior to September 1, 2020, must submit a packet in order to compete in ACF tournaments in the 2021–2022 academic year.
Schools with multiple such teams must submit separate packets, and the teams cannot discuss the contents of their packets with each other.
For ACF Fall
As of 2020, ACF Fall operates on an optional packet submission model. Teams are encouraged to submit packets and receive discounts for submitting, but no team is required to submit a packet in order to play.
What counts as a “mainstream, collegiate, academic quizbowl tournament”?
All ACF tournaments, NAQT SCT (Division I or Division II), NAQT ICT, typical collegiate academic invitational tournaments, and typical open tournaments count as mainstream collegiate academic quizbowl tournaments.
Playing tournaments either as a college student or as a high school student counts for the packet submission requirement.
Novice collegiate events with strict eligiblity requirements do not count as mainstream collegiate academic tournaments in determining packet submission requirement.
Pop culture or “hybrid” tournaments, College Bowl/HCASC, and tournaments played on NAQT “Invitational Series” (IS) questions do not count.
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, email ACF’s eligibility committee.
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
Submit your packet as a .doc or .docx file. Use 10-point Times New Roman font and 1-inch margins on all sides. PDFs, .odt, .rtf, .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.
Name your packet using the following scheme:
<Year> <Tournament Name> – <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:
2015 ACF Regionals – UC Irvine A
The submitted packet and final packet distributions for ACF tournaments may be found here.
Consult individual tournament announcements for guidelines on writing questions of appropriate difficulty.
Write tossups on easier topics. Use challenging clues for the lead-in, and then use progressively easier clues. End your tossups with a giveaway that most players in the tournament should know.
Do not write tossups that:
- Are geared towards specific players. You should write your questions for a general audience.
- Have too many difficult or easy clues. Devote appropriate amounts of space to hard, medium, and easy clues.
- Are on your pet topics or on things which are likely to go unanswered. Dead tossups are the enemy of fun.
All bonuses should have 3 parts, worth 10 points each. Bonuses should have one easy part, one medium part, and one hard part. Rules of thumb:
- The easy part: 90% of the field should be able to correctly answer
- The medium part: roughly 50% of the field should be able to correctly answer
- The hard part: a person who is well-read in the subject should be able to correctly answer
If you are unsure about the difficulty of a bonus you are writing, then you should err on the easier side, or write on something else entirely.
We prohibit specific types of bonuses and levy penalties on teams that submit packets with prohibited formats. For more information, see Discounts/Penalties.
More guidance on writing questions
Please follow ACF formatting guidelines when formatting your packet.
Several past ACF editors have provided tips on how to write good questions. Please consult the following guides:
- Jerry Vinokurov’s Guide to Writing Questions is helpful for newcomers and teaches 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 guides, we recommend that you consult past ACF sets as models of question writing.
- For ACF Fall-level difficulty: 2017 ACF Fall, 2018 ACF Fall, and 2020 ACF Fall
- For ACF Winter-level difficulty: 2020 ACF Winter
- For ACF Regionals-level difficulty: 2010 ACF Regionals and 2019 ACF Regionals
- For ACF Nationals-level difficulty: 2017 ACF Nationals, 2018 ACF Nationals, and 2019 ACF Nationals
We offer discounts for packets submitted early, and levy penalties for packets submitted late. The timeline and the amounts of discounts and penalties is listed 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” that do not have prose clues.
- 5-10-15 bonuses. These questions should instead be changed to 10-10-10 bonuses.
See also Penalties in the Hosting Guidelines.
Plagiarism is not tolerated. There will be consequences for any instances of plagiarism.