Extra Studying for Bible Bee 2017

7:04 PM

Locals is just three weeks away, and I still haven't posted.  To be honest, I haven't known what to post.  I've written a lot about study tips in the past, so it seemed like there wasn't much else to say about that.  I could write about what I'm learning from the study, but that takes more forethought, and besides, my thoughts have been really random -- like not something that you can put in a concise manner in a blog post.

A few weeks ago, I received a comment from a reader, and I thought that I would just answer it in a post:

"...I was wondering WHAT I should study and memorize specifically besides [the memory passages]. See, being my first time, I don't know what the test will bring or if I can get in the competitions, what that will bring. What would you suggest I study and for how long? Thanks so much again for being a such a great help to me!"

Great question!  The Discovery Journal covers a lot of content, so it can be very hard to know what to study, and how much to study it.  And frankly, I can't tell you what will and won't be on the test, because I don't know.  However, the Bible Bee has given us a lot of information about this year's test, and we can use this to give us a pretty good idea of what will be on the test.

Go ahead and login to your family dashboard at biblebee.org, so that you can follow along with all that I'm saying.  Under the Resources tab, you'll find a document titled "Discovery Journal Cross-Reference List".  This document contains a page about the written test, which includes the approximate percentages of questions that will be in each category.  It works out to be like this:

Navigate and Explore (memory passages, study passages, Discovery Journal)
50 questions
75 questions
100 questions
35 questions
52 questions
70 questions
10 questions
15 questions
20 questions
5 questions
8 questions
10 questions

Keep in mind that these are my calculations, so they may contain errors.  So how should this table affect your studying?  Well, it honestly doesn't have to.  The main goal is to grow in your relationship with the Lord, and if you don't care about the competition, then that is perfectly fine.  You just study God's Word.  But the competition is fun, and I'm guessing from your comment that you are wanting to know how to study and do well on the test, maybe even qualify for Nationals.

From the chart, I would say that your study priorities should be ordered like this (from most important to least important):
  • Memory Passages
  • Genesis 1-3
  • Cross-references
  • Study Passages
  • Hebrew/Greek Words
  • Launch
  • Everything else
Genesis 1-3 and Memory Passages could be interchangeable.  This is simply having a good general knowledge of Genesis 1-3 (maybe even memorizing it) and knowing your memory passages cold.  Cross-references make up a much larger portion of the test than they have the past two years -- 70 questions on the Senior test!  This means that you should have a good knowledge and understanding of your cross-references, too.  The study passages are those passages that you study in the Explore section.  You should be very familiar with those, though I doubt that it would be necessary to memorize them.  You should also learn every Hebrew/Greek word that you are told to look up in the Discovery Journal.  Launch is the first page of each week in the Discovery Journal.  It usually contains some historical, cultural, or geographical background.  This will make up 5% of the test (10 questions on the Senior test).  You should learn it if you have time, especially as it could be what determines whether or not you qualify for Nationals.  However, don't spend so much time on it that you neglect all of your other studying (as well as the rest of your life).  I think that two or three hours (or maybe even one, as long as it was intense and uninterrupted) spent on Launch this whole summer should suffice.

Once again, almost of all of these are my own personal calculations.  I often make guesses as to what the test will be like, based on information given by the National Bible Bee and my own personal intuition.  I could be right on or completely off; we won't know until we're taking the test.

Now for how to study...

The most important thing is that you complete the Discovery Journal and memorize all the passages word-perfect.  If you do both of those, then that's wonderful.  But there's still more that you can do, especially if you're wanting to place at your Local Bee or qualify for Nationals.

You need to know the content of your Discovery Journal like the back of your hand.  The way I review my Discovery Journal is by going through and highlighting everything that seems important after I've completed the week.  You can read a post that I wrote about this, but keep in mind that it was written two years ago, and some things about the Bible Bee have changed since (and some of my own personal methods have changed, too).

Memorize all fourteen of the assigned memory passages.  Try to have them finished at least a week or two early, that way you will have plenty of time to review and become confident with them.  If you memorized a passage the day before you competed, there's a good chance that you would blank out on it once you were under the stress of the competition.  Recite all the passages at least once a week.  If you are consistently getting them correct, then once a week may be enough.  However, if you are having trouble with them, you'll need to recite them more, maybe even every day.

Memorizing Genesis 1-3 is a very good idea.  How you go about this is up to you.  I'm not putting a lot of effort into this yet, partly because I'm hoping that it will just come as I study, and also because, well, I'm just lazy.  If you can, memorize it verse-by-verse.  Ideally, someone would say a reference from Genesis 1-3, and you could recall what the verse says in three seconds.  Last year, I wrote down each verse on its own index card and put it on a key ring.  I would look at the reference and then try to recall the verse or vice versa.  This method worked wonderfully.  I have a notion that knowing Genesis 1-3 verse-by-verse may not be as important as it has been the past two years, but please don't base your studying around my hunches.  It could certainly end up being even more important than it has ever been before.  This is just a guess because such a heavy emphasis is being placed on cross-references.

Everyone always wants to know if they should memorize all the cross-references, and if so, if they should be word-perfect.  There's no correct answer to this question.  If you have lots of extra time and feel up to it, then go ahead.  But you don't have to know every cross-reference word-perfect to score high on the test.  It's good to know each reference on the list provided by the National Bible Bee (don't worry about the other cross-references in the Discovery Journal) and a summary of it.  So, if you heard the reference "Proverbs 3:19", then you would think, "The LORD founded the world by His wisdom."  Yes, memorizing each cross-reference is great, but knowing a summary is far easier and is almost as helpful.  So because of time constraints, I would recommend knowing a summary over memorizing the actual passage.

You can use different methods to create and learn summaries of the cross-references.  While making your own is definitely better, using someone else's Quizlet set or spreadsheet is still very helpful.  Last year, a friend of mine made a spreadsheet of the cross-references with summaries.  I was running low on time and wasn't going to be able to make my own, so I copied and pasted her list, and then I went through and edited all the summaries to make them stick better in my head.

If you were going to memorize some of the cross-references, then I would recommend doing the ones that are also on the Pre-Release list, that way, if you qualify for Nationals, you'll have a head-start on those verses.

Now for Hebrew and Greek.  You don't have to know every single word you see other people studying.  All you need to know is in the Discovery Journal.  Taking all the words that you looked up on Blue Letter Bible and putting them on a Quizlet set is an easy and fun way to learn it.  You could also play a matching game with it, turn it into a game of Pictionary, or use mnemonics.  Hebrew/Greek is easy enough to learn that you can wait until the last week or two to really get it down.

So that's pretty much how you can be studying right now.  This is a ton of information, and it's perfectly understandable if you don't get around to studying everything.  I've given you a lot of different ideas for studying because I figured I'd rather give you too many than too few :).  If you're wanting to qualify for Nationals, then you'll stand a very good chance if you do all of this.  But if you're just wanting a fun way to spend more time in the Word of God this summer, then learning the memory passages and completing the Discovery Journal will be great.

Ultimately, our goal needs to be increasing in our knowledge of and love for the Lord and His Word.  If we don't come to know Him better through our time in Scripture this summer, then this is worthless.  A love for His Word will motivate us even when the competition doesn't or we can no longer compete.  That is why it is so important to develop a love for the Bible NOW.  

I hope this helped!  Let me know if you have any questions or need some clarifications.

Disclaimer: This post is not endorsed by the National Bible Bee.  The tips and opinions given in it are solely that of the author.  

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  1. Thanks so much for your tips and encouragement! I always enjoy reading your posts! :)

  2. Hey Anna, thanks for the post! :) Currently, I am far behind (about a week) in my studies and am trying to catch up, plus study for the test. I am so overwhelmed! But this sure does help, thanks again. Any suggestions on how to catch up?

    1. A week behind isn't really as far behind as it feels :). I would recommend doubling up on it.
      You could do one day in the morning, and another day in the evening. If you had a free morning or afternoon, then you could dedicate that to working on your DJ distraction-free. You might be surprised at how much you'd get done -- sometimes I've been able to do a week's worth in that time. You could try to do some over the weekend, too. If you did this, then I think that you could be finished with a few days to spare. You could use those days for intense review of your DJ and verses. Try to weed out unnecessary distractions. There are certainly distractions that are good and necessary (family, church, chores, etc.), but some things like the internet and free reading can be put on hold for a week. I'm always amazed at how much extra time I have when I take a break from reading blogs or social media.
      Hope this helps! Don't be discouraged -- no matter how far you get in your studying this year, it was worth it, if you grew in your relationship with the Creator.

    2. Thanks for the helpful ideas, Anna! I have one more question, in this post, are you saying I must memorize every cross-reference?

    3. You're welcome! No, what I meant is that you know what each cross-reference is about and how it relates to the study, but not memorizing it word-for-word. If I were you, though, I would just work on finishing the DJ right now.

  3. What are some of your favorite blogs? (No rush to answer, as the test is already upon us! =))
    -Madelyn A.

    1. Hmm...I read the Bontragers' blog (as well as Allison and Chelsy's blogs), Carissa P's blog, Bella M's blog, Rachel C's blog, some of the 9marks articles, occasionally the Babylon Bee, and random other stuff every now and then. It's kinda just a hodgepodge of stuff :).


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