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Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers

Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers

“The Good, the Bad and the very very ugly”

Today on the blog we are going to look at an issue I have been asked about several times during my trivia hosting. Should points be deducted for incorrect answers? I can see where this comes from….many TV shows and entertainment shows deduct points if a player answers a question wrong. My answer to anyone who asks this is always the same…..a resounding NO. There are a few exceptions to the rule and I urge you to keep reading as I am presenting you today with a trivia idea I have been using for years that works, gets players involved and ensures everyone goes home happy at your trivia occasion.


In this article we will look at –

  • Why taking points away is a bad idea?
  • An idea for a round where points could be taken away that could enhance your quiz.
  • Deducting points in a buzzer contest in a fair manner.


Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers – The Big No No

Remember the whole point of your trivia event is that it has to be fun and draw people in. Your event has to increase bar sales, get people into venues and raise funds. The minute it stops doing that is the minute you as a host become an expense to the business and you will soon receive the “bad news” call we all fear……

Hence you have to make your night as fun as possible and punishing people for what they do not know is very very wrong. People enjoy trivia as they get rewarded for knowing things and remembering them. People love working out answers and coming up with guesses if they don’t know. If you start to take away points when people do not know things or come up with a sensible guess that is wrong, then you start to create a less fun environment and will drive people away in droves.

 When never to take away points for wrong answers:

  • When the event is for kids.  Seriously, how can you look at those eyes and say ‘sorry, wrong answer, you lose points!’.
  • When the event is for a rowdy crowd.
  • When the event is for teaching/learning, public education events, and teambuilding.


Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers – The Wipeout Round

Remember your night is about the fun factor but there are times when the whole “shall we risk it?” idea works and that is a simple Wipeout Round. I have used these for years and they ensure fairness, give people something to think about, change the dynamic of the game and often ensure a closer contest.


Here is how they work….you set 10 questions. Aim for about 5 easy, 3 medium and 2 hard across the set. For each question the team gets right they are awarded 1 point. If they get all 10 right they are awarded 5 bonus points so 15 in total. Now then… is the trick. If a team gets a question wrong they are Wiped Out and score Zero for the round. Not the whole quiz…just that round. You want to be aiming for your players getting 5-6 points each team so it becomes a whole new ball game. Players will discuss whether to gamble, ponder over answers and it makes the round more fun that a normal 10 question round. Obviously your entire quiz cant be a wipeout round but including one in the quiz as a whole can really enhance the night.


Question 10 of 10 and the team think they know it but have doubts… they take the 9 points they know they have or risk an answer for the full 15 with the chance they may end up with zero? A team in last place may gamble and guess their way to 15 points and end up back in the hunt. The teams at the top will have to play tactically to ensure they don’t surrender a hard earned lead….all creates great fun and a great dynamic.



Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers – The Buzzer Round

Now, in the piece so far I have been dead set against taking points away for any reason but in actual fact there are a certain type of event where I do deduct points and that is the buzzer quizzes I run. These are simple individual contests were you get 2 points for a correct answer. However, what I do is take a point away for a WRONG answer if they buzz in BEFORE I have finished the question. Only one point is deducted and they are then frozen out the question. This just adds an extra dimension and stops wild buzzes, usually produces closer games and is fantastic to use in really tight contests.


Taking Points Away For Incorrect Answers – Game Show Systems

The only other time I have and would consider using the deduction of points is if I have been booked to “replicate”  a game show using one of the many game show systems available from companies such as DigiGames. If players and venue owners are seeking an authentic, true to reality game show system based on a popular and appealing TV show format then who am I to change the rule? The buyers demands supersedes your own and yes there is nothing wrong with trying to argue the odd change to the rules to get rid of anything that deducts a players points but if it is a replication of game show rules and a game show feel that they are after, players and clients alike, then that is what you need to do.


All in all then throughout this post you can see that in general I am against deducting points from normal events for wrong answers as in essence it goes against the flow of your night, may put players off and doesn’t create a fun atmosphere if teams end up with 1 point or minus 5. However, I have given you a few prime examples of when and where this can be used to ensure maximum fun, especially the wipeout round. Try it and see what works for you but with a little planning and extra thought you should find yourself able to carry out a successful night.

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