Jeopardy! contestants know so much because they prepare for the show by building up their knowledge on common topics through previous episodes, books, and more.
Although Jeopardy! may seem like an outdated and old-fashioned game show, it is still one of the most popular shows on television.
This is likely because the contestants appear to know so much about so many different subjects. These contestants prepare by watching previous episodes, reading books from previous winners, and filling the gaps in their own knowledge.
Who still watches Jeopardy!?
The worlds of Hollywood blockbusters, television shows, fashion, and social media influencers have long been obsessed with futurism and the idea of an alternate dystopian future.
Amidst all of this, it can seem almost silly that a show like Jeopardy!, which has been on the air since 1984, and features an old-school gaming format, could still be airing.
However, as recently as 2019, more than 10 million Americans still tuned in to watch the show weekly, which put it in a better position than CBS’s hit Big Bang Theory and close to the viewership ratings that HBO’s Game of Thrones used to reach.
How do Jeopardy! contestants know so much?
Even though Jeopardy! still manages to bring in millions of viewers every week, the winning streaks on the show are really what keeps long-time fans coming back for more.
Chances are, any Jeopardy! fan who has watched the show over the last couple of decades and has witnessed any kind of winning streak, has asked themselves how the contestants can pack so much knowledge about so many varying categories into their heads.
The thing that makes Jeopardy! so exciting to watch is the fact that only the host and the producers know what the trivia questions will be for each contestant before they step up to the podium.
In fact, in most cases, contestants will not have any idea which game they are playing before they start. However, this is also what makes it so difficult to understand how some contestants can know so many of the answers.
Fortunately, several of the past Jeopardy! winners, including Amber Garrett and Brad Rutter, have revealed the secrets about how they sharpened their trivia skills before the show.
Jeopardy! does not hand out a study guide to contestants before the show. However, some of these previous contestants and other keen-eyed long-time fans have picked up on the fact that they can increase their knowledge on a wide range of subjects.
This can be done by watching previous episodes of Jeopardy! in preparation, reading previous winners’ books, and identifying common categories before they go onto the show to appear as though they know about everything.
Why do Jeopardy! contestants prepare by watching previous episodes of the show?
When contestants prepare to go on Jeopardy!, they know that they can conceivably be asked to answer trivia questions about anything at all, which is quite a daunting prospect.
However, long-time Jeopardy! viewers will have noticed that some answers and questions repeat on the show more often than others.
Therefore, watching old episodes of Jeopardy! or even practicing on sites like J Study Guide or the Jeopardy! website can help contestants pick up on certain trends for certain categories.
This will help them to answer questions even if they do not really know the answer off the top of their heads.
Reading previous winners’ books
Amber Garrett, who was on Jeopardy! in 2016 has revealed that she found reading previous winners’ books about their strategies and plans for winning quite helpful in her preparation process to be on the show.
She specifically names Bob Harris’s book, Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!, as one of her favourite amusing and insightful ways to prepare.
She also prepared for the show by trying to guess which categories she might get by researching important events and holidays near the time of taping.
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How Jeopardy! contestants fill in the gaps in their knowledge
Previous Jeopardy! contestants like Brad Rutter have revealed that they worked to determine where the gaps in their own knowledge were before they started preparing for the show.
If you are a long-time Jeopardy! viewer, you will know that categories like presidents, Shakespeare, world capitals, American History, word origins, sports, 4-letter words, and more, are likely to come up in just about every Jeopardy! game.
Therefore, Jeopardy! contestants who appear to know the most when they appear on the show have taken these common topics and focused on studying the ones that they did not already know a lot about.
This ensures that they have the broadest range of knowledge possible before they face Alex Trebek’s questions.