Getting on 'Jeopardy!' Has Never Been More Straightforward. Here's How to Do It.

·4 min read
Getting on 'Jeopardy!' Has Never Been More Straightforward. Here's How to Do It.

So you think you have what it takes to be a Jeopardy! champion. You’ve studied up on trivia, immersed yourself in betting boot camp, and trained your trigger finger to smash the signaling device in record time. But now that you’re ready to compete, how do you convert that lifelong dream into action? Tens of thousands of hopefuls shoot their Jeopardy! shot every year, but only a fraction can make it onto the show. Fortunately for you, Jeopardy!’s audition process no longer involves waiting months on end for the Brain Bus to roll into your town. We’ve spelled out all the steps below, so with this handy guide, you’ll be ready to become a Jeopardy! champion in no time.

First, take the test.

First thing’s first: Jeopardy! hopefuls must take and pass a qualifying test. You can take the test online anytime (conveniently known as The Anytime Test), or pre-register for a scheduled testing time, at which you and thousands of other applicants will take the test simultaneously. Composed of 50 categories and 50 clues, just like the ones you see on the show, you’ll have 15 seconds to submit your answer to each question, meaning that the test only takes approximately 13 minutes total. No two tests are exactly the same, as the questions pull from a huge pool of material, but each applicant can expect the same format. You can only take the test once a year, so don’t shoot your shot until you know you’re ready.

To prepare for the test, avail yourself of the tips and tricks on the official Jeopardy! website, like insight from producers and practice tests. Third party resources from fans, like this unauthorized “J! Study Guide,” may also prove useful. Chris Wong, a former Jeopardy! contestant, used third party resources like JBoard (an online forum) and J! Archive (a fan-created archive) to study. Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy! GOAT, is partial to homemade flashcards as a study tool.

Next, audition for the show.

Jeopardy! never reveals test scores, but if you pass the test, you’ll be added to a pool of eligible applicants. This pool has far more eligible applicants than the show has contestant slots, so names are randomly plucked for auditions until all of the slots for the season are filled. Jeopardy! may contact you at any time within one year of your test, so keep an eye on your email for that fateful invitation to audition.

These days, owing to the pandemic, auditions are taking place virtually. Contestant coordinators lead groups of three applicants through a mock game of Jeopardy!. After the mock game, applicants take part in mock interviews, just like the ones you see before Double Jeopardy on the show. You may be tempted to invest all your time in preparing for the game, but pay some mind to getting camera-ready, too—look sharp and try to keep your nerves under control. According to Wong, “They’re not looking for the smartest people in the room. They’re looking for people who will make for the best show.”

Then, wait for the call.

If you thought the test and the audition were the hard part, waiting for the news that your number is up might be even harder. If you’ve done well at your audition, you’ll be placed in another pool of eligible contestants, this time for up to eighteen months. If you’re selected to compete on the show, you’ll be notified around a month in advance of your tape date, and then it’s off to Culver City, California with you.

If your first shot at getting on Jeopardy! fails, don’t get discouraged, and do keep your hopes up for next year's test. “It’s super selective every year,” said Jennings. “I think by the numbers it’s ten times harder to get on Jeopardy! than to get into Yale. I know a lot of really good players who failed the audition five times before they finally got on the show and did great. So don’t get down on yourself. Wait for the next tryout. You’re going to get better. It is something you can get better at.”

You Might Also Like