Surely, in the years of asking and answering trivia questions, you’ve come across some that just have that extra jazz (heck, we even have a guide on how to make ones just like that). I’m talking about tough questions that really challenge your knowledge and make your wheels turn. And since we’re here to discuss questions, here’s one to ponder: what is it that makes a tough trivia question?
Tough questions are not limited to one category; they fit in classical music, geology, and everywhere in between. There are some criteria, though. For instance, a good way to make a question extra hard is by making it long. An excellent question will give a skilled player the chance to answer before the quizmaster finishes asking the question. Of course, it depends on the format too; written, spoken, multiple-choice, and true or false questions are all very different.
If you’re struggling with writing tough questions, we’ve prepared a guide for you! Follow the instructions below and take your question writing to the next level. And if you’re just here for a good time, scroll down for some of the toughest trivia questions and answers!
What Makes a Tough Trivia Question?
It Can Be Answered
Some people like to focus on the question, while they should really focus on the answer. Ultimately, the answer makes the question! That being said, if you want to write a tough question, write with an answer in mind. If the question is too difficult and can’t be answered, it’s not a good question.
After all, the point of trivia is to answer questions. Challenge your audience and make them dig deep, but let the question be answerable! Naturally, the answer shouldn’t be on the surface. In the end, even if your audience doesn’t answer correctly, you want them to go, “Oh, I should have known that!”
It Has One Correct Answer
As we already established, a question is nothing without an answer. Always make sure your answer is 100% correct. If you have any doubts at all, leave it out; choose a different question. Likewise, avoid urban myths and legends. If you cannot back up your “fact” with research, it is simply an opinion (more on that later).
When you’re checking the correctness of your answer, make sure that there is only one answer, too. Unless the question specifically asks for two or more answers, there should only be one right answer. If you’re willing to accept two different answers as correct, see if you can find a way to rephrase the question to make it clearer.
The Answer is Not in the Form of Numbers
Try to avoid answers in the form of numbers at all costs. If your answer is a year, age, weight, height, price, or anything in that vein, it’s either too specific and nobody will be able to answer accurately, or it’s simply boring.
Similarly, avoid questions inspired by the Guinness Book of World Records. Most people don’t know the weight of the heaviest man on earth or the diameter of the largest pizza ever made. Though you might find these facts interesting, most people don’t.
(But if you are someone who loves numbers, we do have a list of trivia questions where the answers can be numbers, too.)
Short questions tend to be boring and easy. Sure, there is a place for short and sweet questions in trivia, but forget them if you’re writing tough questions for trivia lovers! A really tough question should be long enough to give an extraordinary player an opportunity to answer before an average player.
In other words, the question should give hints along the way. The first piece of information revealed in the question should not give the answer away. If you’re listing things, go from hardest to easiest, so only the biggest trivia whizzes can answer correctly.
Long questions are an excellent tool in trivia. You can make a super tough question a bit easier by providing extra pieces of information. You can also present extra fun bits of trivia in the question. Finally, hearing a long and well-structured question is more entertaining than answering simple one-liners.
If you’re working on some tough trivia questions, one thing that can easily stunt your progress is poor phrasing. Some quizmasters like to throw in curveballs on purpose and confuse their players with cheap tricks. That is a cheap trick in and of itself; don’t fall for it. Phrase your questions as clearly as possible.
For example, let’s say you’re asking about the biggest lake in the world. Do you mean the deepest lake or the lake with the largest surface area? Perhaps you meant the longest lake in the world? Do you see how the word “biggest” is very unclear? That’s the problem with using such terms. “Big” can refer to volume, weight, depth, height, length, and many other factors depending on the context.
Similarly, if you’re asking when a certain book was written, many people might give you the year it was published. After all, some books took years to write. In that case, do you count the year the author started writing, the year they submitted their final copy to the editor, or the year the book was published?
Another type of question that is very confusing is “Who is the biggest rock star in the UK?” “The biggest rock star” is not quantifiable or objective. If you’re referring to a title given to someone by the Guinness Book of World Records, once again, skip it. You can use this question if you really like the answer, but you absolutely have to add more information to it. For example, “One of the UK’s biggest rock stars was married to Cynthia Powell and died from gunshot wounds. Who was it?”
Though making a question confusing on purpose might equal to writing a tough question to some, it’s really not the same thing. Your audience might be confused, or they might just think you made a mistake.
An extraordinary question will not only tickle one’s brain but also provide a fun piece of trivia. Remember that your questions are meant to spark joy and provide entertainment. Have some fun with it!
Using humor can make a hard quiz enjoyable for someone who doesn’t know the answers. If a player knows the answer, that’s great. But if you can make them laugh, that’s a success!
It’s Made for an Audience
Even the toughest question should still keep your audience in mind. If you want to stump your audience, ask a tough question within the topic of the trivia night. You don’t pose a question about movies during a boxing quiz.
Whether you’re writing your questions from scratch or importing them from a website, don’t choose questions for yourself. We all have our preferences, but they’re often not in line with the theme of the night. Put your audience first.
Always Keep an Eye Out for New Trivia
You can come across an interesting piece of trivia on the street, at work, in the shower, at a friend’s house, and in a number of other places. Always be ready to jot down any interesting fact that you can later form a question about. Inspiration likes to play by its own rules, so don’t expect it to come when you’re sitting at your desk, frantically trying to come up with questions.
Of course, that’s not all! There is so much more to writing an excellent and difficult trivia question, but I bet you’re dying to move on to the actual questions. Before we do that, here are some more tips for you before you are ready to conquer the world of tough trivia!
- Involve your audience in the question. If you relate the question to your players, they will likely pay closer attention to the game.
- If you’re using multiple choice questions, make sure all answers are indisputably wrong except for one.
- Stay consistent. Prior to the game, decide what qualifies as correct. That applies to names, for example. Will you accept someone’s first name, or do you need their last name too? Will you accept just the name that person goes by?
- Trick questions can be fun if they are incredibly well phrased and you are confident in your audience. In the opposite case, you will look ridiculous.
Quiz: 100 Tough Trivia Questions Designed to Stump You
Banana republic “Republic” in his time was often a euphemism for a dictatorship, while “banana” implied an easy reliance on basic agriculture and backwardness in the development of modern industrial technology.
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, published in 1902 and set in Africa.
The Color of Money
Chicago and Los Angeles
The Queen Mary
He played one of Murphy’s many short-term secretaries. Kramer is played by Michael Richards.
Operation Junction City
Snowbell is a real cat in the Stuart Little films. The others are cartoon cats.
The $ symbol
Easter, which surpasses Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Halloween.
World War I (1915)
Hank Williams. The titles of most of the other tributes mention him by name.
Martha Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Nina Blackwood
The 1952 Gary Cooper western High Noon. Wayne’s objection: “The last thing in the picture is ole Coop putting the United States marshal’s badge under his foot and stepping on it.
Viva Las Vegas
“Love is a Wonderful Colour”
Lawrence of Arabia
Helios the Sun God
Pier Paolo Pasolini
A cash point machine
The Mamluks In 1291 they drove the last Crusaders from Palestine. Their reign is divided into a “Bahri” period from 1250-1382 and a “Circassian” period from 1382-1517. They were defeated by the Ottomans, who conquered Egypt in 1517.
Wilson – Woodrow and Harold
The Olduvai Gorge It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been instrumental in furthering understanding of early human evolution. Excavation work there was pioneered by Louis Leakey in the 1950s and is continued today by his family.
Lawrence of Arabia. It is unique in being the only film to win the Best Film award without containing a single female speaking role.
Vietnam They led the first resistance movement against the occupying Chinese after 247 years of domination. Many temples are dedicated to them, and a yearly holiday, occurring in February, to commemorate their deaths is observed by many Vietnamese.
Slash/Guns n Roses
A pair of orange handcuffs
Fourteen categories, winning eleven
The boy next door
A A Milne (Winnie The Pooh)
80. Although never part of international maritime law, which phrase was popularised by its usage on the RMS Titanic as a consequence of which 74% of the women and 52% of the children were saved but only 20% of the men?
Women and children first The practice arose from the chivalrous actions of soldiers during sinking of HMS Birkenhead in 1852, though the phrase was not coined until 1860.
Trinity (nuclear test)
John F. Kennedy
The Office (2004)
The Cunninghams in Happy Days
They all recorded James Bond themes
Tom Brown’s Schooldays
Girl with a Pearl Earring
The Seven-Year Itch
Questions for the People!
Quizmasters like to focus on the challenging aspect of a tough question, and often forget about the entertainment element. At the end of the day, the purpose of trivia is entertainment. Sure, you want to impress your friends and show off your knowledge, but it’s all completely worthless if you don’t have fun. Write questions for the people! Don’t bother with questions that nobody can answer; your audience will get bored.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about tough questions today. The most valuable lesson is: Don’t be afraid of easy questions, be afraid of poorly written and confusing ones! A good easy question is still better than an obscure trivia question nobody can answer.
What do you think about the topic? Do you prefer tough questions? How many of our questions did you manage to answer? Let us know in the comments!