Quiz Show Study Course

ByJeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire contestant

Bill O'Donnell


Play the Quiz

The Podium

Eddie Timanus

 Other People's Stories

Reading List

Trivia? No way!

One of my opponents on Jeopardy had mentioned that he had prepared by studying "Trivial Pursuit" cards. That may have made him a formidable Trivial Pursuit player, but he didn't do that well in the game, coming in third. (He did win a nice trip though!) Jeopardy doesn't ask for trivial information, it asks for significant and relevant information. The problem is that it asks for this information in such a broad range of categories that no one can master it all.

For example, knowing what was the first national park, or who Hamlet's father was, or who won the World Series in 1968 are all important facts in those fields of knowledge. However, few people are experts at sports, history, entertainment, botany, stamp collecting and opera all at the same time! That's where these resources can help.

Click for purchasing information through Amazon.com

(You are not obligated to buy by clicking!)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to British Royalty


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies, Flicks and Film


Art for Dummies


 I found the "Idiot's Guides" and "Dummies" books great resources. They are basic information, but cover all the fundamentals of their topics. They have one for just about every subject, and some are available on audio cassette.



Two books by two giants of Jeopardy! Ken Jennings did better of course, but Bob Harris is a lot funnier! If you are serious about becoming a contestant on Jeopardy or Millionaire, you need to read these books. Bob's is especially helpful for its tips on how to make facts "sticky" so you'll remember them. Sadly I am now doomed to always know that E.M. Forester wrote Howard's End. You will be too.

Also, smart folks know they are cheaper here than at the bookstore! You might also want to check out Bob's Blog.

  Play our daily trivia game to practice your skills! Over 7000 questions, you'll get a new challenge every time!

You can only play once a day, so don't forget to come back tomorrow!



My advice is to carefully evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. If you already know your history and geography, don't try to learn more, they will only ask you the more significant things. Brush up on subjects you don't know.

These books are only suggested starting places in different areas. I intentionally chose general works, collections and anthologies that would give me an overview. Since I'd never listened to opera in my life, I only had the time (and mental ability) to learn the more famous works and composers, and that's all they are likely to ask.


Meredith Vieria is very nice and personable. If you get there, tell her "Ranger Bill" said "Hi."

 My job requires me to drive a great deal. Audio books were a great way to study as well as pass the time. I could've listened to Classic Rock or Talk Radio all day, but that wouldn't have helped on Jeopardy or Millionaire, nor made me a more interesting person.

Only available used. Click to see if Amazon has any used copies today.

I found this very helpful in learning the basics of Classical music

Admit you're a dummy and this series will set you free!

Some say you can't really study for Jeopardy, and I agree last minute cramming won't help. A lot of what you'll need to know is everyday knowledge, stuff you probably already know. I got one of my Final Jeopardy questions right just because I religiously listen to "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio everyday, and I always have, even long before Jeopardy.

Don't miss any opportunity to learn. I also set my home page to "Useless Knowledge" so I'd at least see a quick nugget of knowledge whenever I logged on and maybe even be tempted away from work to browse and learn a little each day. Another great site, run by one of my "Phone Friends" is The Trivia Hall of Fame where you can play a new trivia game every week to hone your skills.



 Eddie Tamanus, the scariest Jeopardy player of all time!

Blind since age two, Eddie managed to wipe out all his competition, becoming a five time champion. (He gave the car to his parents!)

Eddie entered his Final Jeopardy answers via a special keyboard, but it was his speed on the buzzer that made him indomitable.

Eddie also appeared on the Regis Philbin version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

I'm glad I never had to play this most impressive of all Jeopardy contestants. Way to go Eddie!

It's a real good idea to read a news weekly like Time or Newsweek every week. Watch entertainment tabloid shows that feature celebrity gossip, like "Entertainment Tonight." Read all the movie and book reviews in the paper so you'll be familiar with the current authors, stars and films.

 World News.

Here are today's World News headlines.

Check back regularly to stay in the know. Read a newspaper everyday. Click the blue headline for the whole story from New York Times, Reuters, NPR and others!

Courtesy of Free news feeds by Fresh Content.net

The "Don't Know Much About" series by Kenneth Davis provides good overviews of history, geography and the Bible. He also has titles on the Civil War, but I didn't use them - I already knew that topic.

Don't Know Much About History

Audio Book


Don't Know Much About Geography

Audio Book


Don't Know Much About the Bible

Audio Book


Practice makes perfect. Watch the show, keep score and use a fat ball point pen as a clicker. It's best to tape the show in advance, then use the "pause" button on your remote. Keep track of which questions you consistently get wrong and which categories you always have trouble with, and concentrate on them. The computer game is helpful as well. The Jeopardy books give interesting insights into strategy that might help.


Image courtesy Mike Dupee. Thanks Mike!

Visit Mike's great trivia website!

 Michael Dupee somehow obtained this photo of the podium. Mike is the author of How to Get on Jeopardy!... and Win!

While Mike was on several years back, the podium still looks like this. In most cases all three contestants know the answer. Therefore, speed on the buzzer is vital. If you buzz in too soon, the system "locks you out" and you can't buzz in again for ten seconds, an eternity in Jeopardy time. You need to buzz the second Alex finishes reading, ignore the little running lights that the stage crew will tell you to look at to time your buzz.

Oh, it's very hard to see the timer lights on the front of the podium. They'll just make you nervous, forget 'em!


Keep score on paper so you'll know your strengths and weaknesses. Make a grid with columns for the categories and spaces for the answers. Put a check when you get it right, an X when you get it wrong and a dash for questions you don't answer. Total up your score and watch for categories you consistently have trouble with. Also experiment a little: I learned that I seldom got it right if I guessed, so I had to train myself not to guess and keep my big mouth shut. It helped.

A little "reality training" helps too. We made up a podium in the living room, equipped with a clicker made from a bicycle grip and a ballpoint pen. Then we shined a spotlight on it, to imitate studio conditions. It might have helped. (We didn't do this until I got the call from Jeopardy! I'm not that loony!)


The home podium

(Note score sheet and clicker, and annoying glare from spotlight)


How to Get on Jeopardy!... and Win!


I don't know why, but people keep returning this book. I found it useful, if dated. Caveat emptor, I don't want to rip anyone off!

The Jeopardy! Book

This book is out of print.

Sometimes Amazon.com will have a used copy. To check that angle click below. You might also want to look for it on eBay. It's worth it.

The Jeopardy! Book


Jeopardy! Game for PC


Requires Windows 95 or better. Has sample contestant test, which may be more valuable than playing the game. I found the PC game best for practicing my wagering.


 Check out these little flashcards on a variety of subjects. I carried them in my pocket and could study during odd idle moments, in the lunch room, on a plane, waiting for appointments, etc. They have a zillion topics, these are just a few:

 I'm not quite sure where to put this one. It's a great compendium of popular culture, everything from the names of the Banana Splits to the history of my favorite forbidden restaurant, White Castle. I found this very helpful for Millionaire, which is more pop culture oriented.

Other People's Stories

It never hurts to tap into other folk's experiences. Many players feel the urge to create Jeopardy websites after being on the show. Mine goes into detail about what the experience was like. Check these out, all are by actual Jeopardy contestants, and really nice people too.

My Jeopardy Experience*  Laura & Paul Paquet  Kathy Cassity's Story
 Faith Love's Jeopardy Page Iago's Jeopardy Page A Rather Defeatist View
 Marc Hirsch (Who is very right about Alex) Bob Harris - (one of my favorite players, see his hilarious movie)  This Space Available!!


 Check out Bob Harris' hilarious new book: "Prisoner of Trebekistan"

“Bob Harris does a masterful job of describing the emotional state of a Jeopardy! contestant in the heat of battle. Even more impressively, Prisoner of Trebekistan captures the inquisitive spirit that is both the cause and effect of success on the show. I knew that Bob was a great guy and a fantastic Jeopardy! player. Now I’ve found that he’s also a wonderful writer. I think I’m starting to hate him.” —Brad Rutter, top money-winner in Jeopardy! history (more than $3.2 million) Review from Amazon.com

The Reading List

The people at Jeopardy, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire or 1 vs 100 will not give you any clues about what to study. In fact, due to the systems in place to prevent cheating, even the producers of the show won't know the exact material until the day of the show. So you'll have to decide what to study.

These are books, tapes, videos and other resources I actually used. (I figure I spent about $3,000 on Jeopardy between travel and books. It was worth it.) Yes, I am trying to sell them to you, via a link with Amazon.com. The price is the same as if you went directly, but I get a small commission which I promise will only go into my ten year old son's college savings. You can, and should, study according to your identified weaknesses, but this list may save you some of the shopping around. A lot of them are audio books, because I used my commute time to study. (Audio books implies audio cassette unless CD is specified.)

A note on kids books. Non-fiction books for children, especially for teens, are great sources of information. They usually cover the topic in a very introductory way, but are usually thorough enough to hit all the important issues. You can't learn everything, so just learn the basics about as many different things as you can.

Click for purchasing information through Amazon.com

(You are not obligated to buy by clicking!)

Literature You'll need to know major authors, works, and major characters.

 The Poetry of Walt Whitman, Audio Book with study guide

Short cut to Art & Literature, Audio CD Book

The History of English Literature, Audio CD Book

Lives of the Authors, Audio Book

Vintage Reading - from Plato to Bradbury by Robert Kanigel


Shakespeare You'll need to know the major plays, their plots and major characters. Shakespeare is really fun - one of the best things about Jeopardy was getting reacquainted with the Bard. If you can rent Mel Gibson's video version of Hamlet I highly recommend it, forsooth 'tis better than BraveHeart!

 Hamlet, Audio Book with study guide

Macbeth, Audio Book with study guide

King Lear, Audio Book with study guide

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Audio Book with study guide

The Merchant of Venice, Audio Book

Julius Caesar, Audio Book

Essential Shakespeare, Audio Book

Children's Shakespeare, Audio Book

Shakespeare Stories (Kid's Book)

Shakespeare Stories - Histories

Hamlet, Starring Sir Laurence Olivier, Video

An Introduction to Shakespeare



You'll need to check Amazon for a used copy of this as it is out of print. Click to check the "buy used" link. 

Mythology You'll need to know at least the Greek and Roman gods and their stories. Knowing a Norse tale or two may be helpful as well.

 D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, Audio Book

Bullfinch's Mythology, Audio Book

Wishbone, The Odyssey (kids book)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Mythology


Great Books You Ought to Know at Least the Plots of:

I found the study guides that some of these audio books come with very helpful. (Yes, I know my grammar needs work)

 Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Audio Book

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Audio Book with study guide

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, Audio Book with study guide

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Audio Book with study guide

Paradise Lost, by John Milton, Audio Book with study guide

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, Audio Book with study guide

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Audio Book with study guide

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Audio Book with study guide

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, Audio Book with study guide

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, Audio Book

Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, kids book


Geography Know all the states and their capitals, the Canadian provinces (Alex Trebek is from Canada, there is always a "Canadian Question"), and all world capitals and major cities. Study a map, globe or atlas and make lists until you have them memorized. Also watch the news on CNN or listen to NPR on the radio to get in depth news. Jeopardy often asks about countries that have been in the news.

Don't Know Much About Geography, Audio Book

History Know the major wars, explorers, past and present leaders of important countries, major inventions, Presidents, Vice Presidents, English Royalty and big scandals.

 Time / CBS News People of the Century, Audio Book

Lives of the Presidents, Audio Book

The Lives of the Kings & Queens of England, Audio Book

Instant Genius - The Constitution, Audio Book

Instant Genius - US Wars Before 1900, Audio Book

Instant Genius - US Wars After 1900, Audio Book

The American Century I, 1889 - 1929, Audio Book

The American Century II, 1929 - 1945, Audio Book

The American Century III, 1945 - 1965, Audio Book

The American Century IV, 1963 - 1989, Audio Book

The Complete Idiot's Guide to British Royalty

Don't Know Much About History, Audio Book

TIME Magazine American Legends


I can't recommend the "American Century" series enough! Even long after Jeopardy I still listen to these just for the joy of good storytelling and an interesting perspective on history. Buy one and you'll be buying the rest, trust me!

Entertainment & Celebrities My "weakest link." Know who won the Oscars, film directors, movie stars, who's hot right now, musical groups, mixed drinks, fine foods, and popular television.

 Instant Genius - Wine, Audio Book

101 Great Movies for Kids, by Jeffery Lyons

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Movies, Flicks & Film

People Magazine, Great Cover Subjects, Audio Book

A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, Video

People Magazine Celebrates the '80s

The Director's Vision, A Guide to 250 Great Filmmakers


Art and Artists Know famous American painters and their works, Impressionist painters, major themes and movements, French artists, Leonardo and Rembrandt, major museums in New York and Europe. Sister Wendy is a great help! (She was a Final Jeopardy question once too!)

 Shortcut to Art & Literature, Audio CD Book

Lives of the Artists, Audio Book

Instant Genius - Modern Art, Audio Book

Art for Dummies, by Thomas Hoving

Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Modernism, Video

Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Grand Tour, Video

Sister Wendy's American Collection, boxed set Video


Check Amazon for a used copy as this is expensive. A "buy used" link should appear when you click.

Classical Music Know major composers in Europe, major works, types of instruments, American musical theater, major operas and their plots. I discovered I really like opera too, like Shakespeare it's full of blood, sex, intrigue and action!

 Opera for Dummies, Audio Book

Lives of the Musicians, Audio Book

Jazz, History of America's Music, by Ken Burns, Audio Book

Classical Music for Dummies, Audio Book


Philosophy and Religion Know major religions, religious holidays, religious leaders, philosophers and their ideas and books. Find an old high school philosophy textbook.

Instant Genius - Philosophy, Audio Book

Instant Genius - World Religions, Audio Book

Don't Know Much About the Bible, Audio Book

Sports Know major pro teams and stars, college teams, their mascots and cities, championships, Super Bowl and World Series winners, major scandals, basic history of major sports.

 Sports Illustrated Moments of Glory, Audio Book

Sports Illustrated American Heroes, Audio Book

Famous Athletes, Kids Book

Lives of the Athletes, Spills and Thrills (Kids book)

Football All Stars (Kids book)

Story of the Olympics (Kids book)



Thanks for visiting my site! Please tell your friends and feel free to link to us! If you get on a game show, let me know how you did!


Amazon's links to trivia resources

Quiz Show Links

This page is not affiliated with or endorsed by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Jeopardy!, 1 vs 100, Sony Pictures Studios, Alex Trebek, Meredith Vieira, Disney, Celador, ABC, or any company or entity connected with America's most popular game shows. The author does not believe any of this content damaging to Jeopardy or Millionaire and recommends that everyone watch these great shows. For the official Jeopardy and Millionaire websites, click below.

Visit the Official Jeopardy! Site

Jeopardy Archive - every game is here, for serious Jeopardy fans

The Official Who Wants to be A Millionaire site

My Jeopardy Experience*

Millionaire Experience Coming Soon!

Who Wants to be A Millionaire

Unofficial site

Celebrity Jeopardy
A Fun Trivia Game Site Jeopardy - The Art Fleming Days Millionaire Study Links, takes awhile to load, lots of good stuff
Play Jeopardy Online Help on the 2/3 rule and more Math for Jeopardy Contestants Official Jeopardy! Contestant Site
How to Qualify for Jeopardy (Trivia Hall of Fame) Information about becoming a contestant on Jeopardy! O'Donnell Photography - See what I really do!

I took this picture under a bridge in Miami. Help the Red Cross help your fellow Americans. Click and give.


Click the cross to give

 The Red Cross does a world of good, we saw it first hand during Hurricane Andrew. They are helping in New Orleans right now.

Donate, ease someone's pain.

It's the right thing to do.

My friend Dan's cool Ozark bugs page


Free counters provided by Andale.

Site copyright 2006 William O'Donnell, all rights reserved. Photos copyright Sony Pictures. No affiliation or endorsement by Sony Pictures Studios, King World, Columbia Tristar, Jeopardy! Who Wants to be A Millionaire, ValleyCrest Productions, Celador, Disney, ABC, or any entity connected with either shows is implied. Watch Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire!

The Game Show Web Ring.  
[ Join Now | Ring Hub | Random | << Prev | Next >> ]

This site is a member of WebRing. To browse visit here.