So you got the call to compete on Jeopardy!—congratulations! Now you’ve probably got a month (or a few) to get your act together. What’s the best use of your time as you attempt to prepare for what may seem like a daunting, impossible task?
Here at Trivia Bliss, we’ve narrowed down the best of the best study methods for future Jeopardy! contestants. Whether you’re a Jeopardy! hopeful who has yet to take the (in)famous preliminary test, or you’re gearing up to film in a couple of weeks, we’ve got eight study strategies to help you succeed once you get on camera. Read on to figure out the best study methods for you.
How Do People Study for Jeopardy!?
There are plenty of ways to study for Jeopardy!, and, for the most part, they fit into two camps: general information study and show-based studying. The first is simply studying as you would for any old test or quiz competition, and the second involves strategies specific to the show. It’s vitally important to use strategies from both camps while studying for Jeopardy!—think of it as diversifying your studying palette.
Before we get into exactly how best to study for Jeopardy!, let’s talk about when is best to study. The best time to start is yesterday, as they say. However prepped you think you need to be, crank it up a notch or two (or ten). Seriously, you need to be working at 110% capacity in order to bring your A-game on camera.
Obviously, it’s easy to get burnt out cramming to study for a quiz show, so pacing yourself is key. Therefore, find a study schedule that works for you. Maybe only hit the books six days a week to let the new trivia you’re learning sink in on your day off.
And know how many hours of hardcore studying your brain can handle. If you’re struggling to focus a few hours in, you know it’s time to stop or take a break.
Most Jeopardy! contestants work full-time and must request time off to get to appear on the show. In other words, very few players on the show have had the chance to study all day, every day to prepare. So if you can’t come up with a ton of time for studying in your schedule, don’t sweat it. Just study slowly and steadily for as much time as you’re allotted ahead of your episode taping, and you’ll be good to go.
There are plenty of methods for studying for Jeopardy! and we’ve compiled them into this itemized list to help you prioritize your Jep-prep. Without further ado, let’s get to the eight best ways to study for Jeopardy!.
Take Practice Tests
If you’d like to be quizzed on an assortment of knowledge ahead of your time on the show, seek out a Jeopardy! practice test. Jeopardy!’s website features many practice tests that you can complete for free online, either in advance of your appearance on the show or just for fun.
These practice tests have 30 clues, and you have only 15 seconds to answer each one, so you’ll get a chance to practice your pacing for the show. There’s one geared towards adults, another for kids, and a third for college students, so no matter what competition you’re aiming for, you’ve got a Jeopardy!-sanctioned way to prepare.
If you want even more practice tests than the Jeopardy! website can provide, there are plenty of fan-made practice tests on various quiz sites online—simply search “jeopardy practice test” into Google to choose your favorite. Or use one of our sample Jeopardy! question compilation articles to test your skills.
Watch Reruns of the Show
When prepping to be on Jeopardy!, it’s a no-brainer to watch reruns of the show. Many a Jeopardy! contestant has stated that the most important ingredient to their success was their attention to past episodes of the show. Indeed, the best way to get a sense for the rhythm, speed, and questions of Jeopardy! is by watching Jeopardy!. So, which of its 38 seasons should you start with?
If you’re going to be playing on the show, you’ve probably been a fan for a long time and have already watched many seasons of it. Jeopardy! has evolved plenty since its beginnings in the 80s, so perhaps pay more attention to episodes from the aughts onward. Personally, I’d start with a re-watch of the current season (as tough as that may sound) and work my way backward from there.
Since you probably don’t have all the time in the world to re-watch every single available episode of Jeopardy! (even though you may want to!), pick a smattering of episodes from every season, five to ten depending on how much time you’ve got on your hands. Perhaps opt to watch 15 or 20 episodes from the more recent seasons to get a better sense of how the show is being conducted these days, especially with new hosts (rest in peace, Alex Trebek).
You might be tempted to watch these Jeopardy! reruns at 1.5x or 2x speed to get through them faster, and if you think that’s the only way to get all your rewatching in, then, sure, do that. But, if you can allot a full half-hour to each episode, it’ll probably really benefit you. Your sense of Jeopardy!’s question and answer timing won’t be as accurate if you’re watching a sped-up version of the show, and you may jump the gun on answering.
Who knows? You might even come across a rare repeat question!
Did you know there’s a user-made Jeopardy! database that spans all 38 seasons of the show? That’s right! It’s called J-Archive, and, let me tell you, it’s extremely comprehensive. For every episode of the show, there are two mock- Jeopardy! boards, one for the first round and another for the Double Jeopardy round. Every category is named with each question listed, and you simply move your cursor over a question to find out its answer.
If you’re pressed for time and can’t watch full Jeopardy! episodes or you learn better by reading instead of watching, J-Archive is an excellent resource for you. You can also have a friend or family member quiz you category by category if you don’t want the visual aid of the board. It might behoove some Jeopardy! prospects to view this board, though—it’s another way to get used to the show’s structure and acclimate your brain to the experience of being on set (AKA in front of a huge Jeopardy! board).
Read the Encyclopedia
When studying for Jeopardy!, consider the oldest study method in the books, which is, of course, to study by the book—the encyclopedia, to be exact. This might sound silly, especially with Google, the largest online encyclopedia ever, right at your fingertips. However, it’s important to go back to basics, and a trusted and well-vetted encyclopedia is an incredibly valuable tool when it comes to acquiring new knowledge, especially a lot of new knowledge at once.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer Britannica or World Book—as long as you’ve unearthed those encyclopedia volumes that have been gathering dust in your basement and get to studying! Alternatively, there are a myriad of encyclopedias available online—just don’t default to Google only!
Review Your Strong Subjects
Though one might think it’s more essential to brush up on subjects you don’t feel as strong in, why not become a complete expert in the areas you already know best and enjoy?
No matter how smart you are, you can’t possibly become an expert in every single area of knowledge—especially with such a limited amount of time! Instead, focus on your favorite subjects to assure that if there’s a category surrounding it, you’ll ace it and sweep all five questions.
Plural “strong subjects” is essential, though—don’t only study one or two extremely niche categories. Instead, become the English and history expert, or tackle all things STEM. There’s bound to be a category or two in those overarching areas during every Jeopardy! episode, which will give you a chance to shine.
Play J!6 Online
Have you ever heard of J!6? It’s a game by the creators of Jeopardy! that can be especially useful to prospective contestants. Supposedly, the show’s writers come up with six clues for every category, not just five. Those extra sixth clues are compiled daily into a game that can be played online or via smart speaker. This game, aptly named for these sixth clues, has been a huge hit with many Jeopardy! fans, including prospective contestants.
J!6 is framed as a recreational game for fans to play for fun at home, but it can also be an excellent tool for future players. It’s a quick play—there are only so many extra clues per episode, after all—so if you’re looking for a quick trivia warmup before you get into the heavier studying, J!6 is for you. Start your study sesh with J!6 to get your brain in gear and go from there.
Practice Those Reflexes
While you’re working on studying those cold, hard facts, don’t forget about working on pressing that buzzer. This is less of a study skill, per se, but something you’ll want to prepare for, nonetheless.
Quite a few Jeopardy! winners have cited their buzzer speed as the secret to their success, and big-time champ Amy Schneider has a great secret to practicing at home without a real buzzer. The trick is to find a large pen, about the same size and weight as a Jeopardy! buzzer (obviously, if you haven’t been on the show, you don’t know how heavy their buzzers are—just choose a pen on the heavier side). Then, as you watch a Jeopardy! rerun or as a friend quizzes you on an assortment of trivia questions, practice clicking the pen with your thumb, like how you’d press the buzzer on the show. This will get your hand reflexes in gear and improve your reaction time accuracy to prepare for pressing that buzzer on camera.
Peruse Trivia Bliss’s Trivia Database
Last but certainly not least, if you’re looking for a trusty resource to provide you with some hard-hitting trivia questions, look no further than Trivia Bliss’s own massive trivia database. We have over a hundred thousand questions available for you, all sorted by category. You can choose a category and quiz yourself question by question to expand your knowledge in a specific area. Alternatively, you can use our random trivia generator to create a mixed category quiz to practice with if you’d like to mix it up.
Whatever your preference, Trivia Bliss’s trivia database is sure to help prepare you for the competition with detailed questions on a myriad of topics. You can find it from our dropdown menu above. You can also take a look at our detailed lists of some of the most fun and hardest Jeopardy! questions.
Do They Give You Something to Study?
Future Jeopardy! contestants and avid fans alike often ask as to whether the show provides its contestants with a study guide or materials to help them perform well on camera.
Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a Jeopardy!-sanctioned official study guide, you’re out of luck. After letting contestants know that they passed the test and will be called to film within a few short months, Jeopardy!’s show runners leave the contestants alone.
That’s not to say contestants won’t be prepared at all by the people in charge of Jeopardy!. They’ll get a thorough run-down of the rules (as if they don’t already know them) plus a guide as to what to wear (pack extra shirts in case you win!). But as for help with learning all the trivia you could imagine or hints as to what the categories on your filming day will be? Absolutely not. Jeopardy! is extremely secretive about its specific categories and questions, and the show’s runners want the contestants to bring their own A game sans help from them.
How Do You Study for the Online Test?
We’ve alluded to the Jeopardy! online test and recommend studying for it as you would any general knowledge or aptitude test. For this, there’s no need (and maybe not enough time) to do a deep dive into just one or two subjects—it’s better to spread your attention between many different areas of knowledge. By knowing a little about a lot of different things, you have a greater chance of acing that online test. This is different than what we recommended for the show—i.e. having a few categories you feel really strong in—simply because the breadth of the online test is most likely going to be wider than the amount of categories that a single episode can hold.
However, there’s no timeline as to when you need to take the test—it’s available to you at any time. And there’s no use in getting strategic with when you take it because, if you pass, you still have zero control as to when you get that call from Jeopardy!. So if you aren’t antsy to take the test ASAP, use your preparation time as a chance to really expand your knowledge in as many areas as possible.
One of the best ways to study for the show’s online test is to take practice tests found on the Jeopardy! website, like we mentioned earlier. This method is an excellent one for those who have already been cleared for the show or hopefuls who have yet to take the acceptance test. Jeopardy!’s practice tests only have 30 questions, not 50 like the actual practice test, so be sure to adjust your own expectations and timing accordingly.
There you have it—our guide to the best ways to study for Jeopardy!. We hope to have given you a few ideas for new study methods that’ll help you along on your journey to Jeopardy! stardom. Happy learning, and good luck!