It was on the overcast morning of Friday 20 November that I made the trek up to Streatham Court C to have a go (for the second year running) at trials for University Challenge. This year, I was set to do battle against fellow Exeposé Copy Editor Will Sandbach, having failed to rope my other two fellow Copy Editors into the process.
In the quiz room, I was greeted by a hungover Will, wearing clothes from last night’s night out, having had to stay in a friend’s spare room as he had been too drunk to make it home. In the run-up to the start of the trials, I was forced to listen to Will moaning about his hangover, as well as observe him offering his own personal “Hi – you alright?” to each entrant that walked through the door – clearly attempting some kind of reverse psychology or something to try and throw them off course.
The trials took the form of filling in the answers on an answer sheet to questions displayed on an interactive whiteboard. For two English students, the first question – one on the transfer of heat – left us both stumped. For me, at least, so did many others. Yet there were some moments of glory to be had. A Shakespeare play with characters including Claudio, Angelo and Isabella? I scribbled down ‘Measure for Measure’ – and conferring answers with Will afterwards, so had he. I can’t deny that there were some moments of inner personal triumph, though – like finding out, when chatting afterwards about a question asking us to pick the second last US state when ordered alphabetically, Will had put West Virginia while I had put Wisconsin. After chatting about answers, all that was left to do was to write about our experiences – Will’s account being not at all satirical and factually incorrect against me.
Will’s Experience: This year, I and fellow Copy Editor Kate Jones decided to have a crack at entering University Challenge with the hope of helping an Exeter team who have never won the competition… ever, and who also have the title for the lowest score in a single match since Jeremy Paxman began hosting the show in 1994.
Kate arrived early, a pencil case full of gear, muttering bits of trivia that she’d been revising till 4 that morning. The place was absolutely jumping – Kate (centre) had to push aside competitors to be sure of a seat to the left of a red chair- this apparently increased her IQ by a full 16 points.
The quiz followed the format of a series of PowerPoint slides – each more misspelt than the last. I was in my element, writing down the spelling errors in a small circle by each of my (correct) answers. The opener was a question on heat transferal. An easy point, I thought, as I wrote my answer (warming). Kate later revealed that she had guessed at radiation – a sure sign of a bad loser. While Kate pondered each question for the full minute, I decided to generally plump for the first thing that came into my head.
All told, we must have been writing for about 30 minutes. I gently mocked some of Kate’s more ludicrous answers once the quiz was complete. Overall, a nice way to spend a Friday morning! If quizzing is your sort of thing, check it out next year and see if you can do better than us.