Twisted Pub Quiz

A pub quiz that starts in a classic format but, through increasingly difficult rounds, breaks down the idea of easy or correct answers and creates opportunity for dialogue and opinion forming.


  • Can inform attendees without seeming didactic
  • Competitive, unusual, fun and can incorporate creative elements, eg. art rounds
  • The format and design embody the message: ‘facts’ and ‘claims’ are contestable


  • Requires very careful prep to get content ready
  • Need to be very clear as quiz goes on about the deliberately ‘twisted’ nature of the format

Best for:

A topic which will rely on a base of knowledge being established for the attendees first, but has ethical or value judgement dimensions that can challenge them later. I’ve run this format with fracking and nuclear energy, and both worked well.

You will need:

  • An expert for each main content-driven round (2-4) and time to prepare content in collaboration with them
  • Experts who are prepared to face challenges from the attendees, especially in the later rounds
  • Activities and any resources to support them (eg art round, voting, answer sheets)
  • A very well prepared script and presentation aid (eg Powerpoint) as appropriate
  • A venue laid out to accommodate tables of 4-8 attendees

How it works:

It works much like a normal pub quiz. Answers are given (and peer marking takes place) at the end of each round, so that the attendee’s understanding is built throughout the event, and each expert has a clear section to contribute to.

It’s up to you how you want to structure it, and resources abound about round types and activities that can be deployed in the format.

An example running order from an event I facilitated about Fracking in the UK:

Expert-led rounds:

  • Facts round (10 multiple choice questions that ‘test’ audience factual knowledge)
  • ‘Contested claims’ round (5 key claims that are controversial about the issue, with yes/no answers demanded: use with caution; attendees will argue about the ‘right’ answer – this is the intent, but can frustrate them if not framed well! An example is “Fracking will lower greenhouse emissions in the UK.”)
  • ‘Values’ round – asking questions about future actions; it’s clear that there are no ‘right’ answers here, but again, attendees are being forced to take a stance. Example: “The UK should legislate to permanently ban fracking.” The expert decides the ‘correct’ answer and explains why they think it’s right; if you picked wrong, you’re out of luck!

Facilitator-led rounds:

  • An ‘art’ round asking for a drawing of the issue,
  • A ‘complete the headline’ with real media headlines with key parts blanked out

Watch out for:

The idea of the Twisted Quiz is to deliver some facts, highlight controversies and get attendees critically thinking about their own knowledge, values and opinions. Experts should be comfortable facilitating rounds and justifying or defending the answers they deem correct – at the Fracking Quiz, it became quite animated; even the experts were openly disagreeing on certain points!

As facilitator, be explicit, as the event goes on, that the answers to the opinion/value questions are not necessarily ‘true’. This is the entire point of the event, but if not signposted well, attendees might think you’re imposing a view on them (rather than highlighting its subjectivity). It is a fine line between maintaining competitive tension (ie having attendees want to answer ‘right’) and encouraging critical discussion and examination. If things start to get too heated – and they can – as a facilitator, ‘lift the veil’ and explain the purpose and intention of the format to the audience – don’t let an us vs them mentality go too far.