CHICAGO (WLS) -- Picking categories answering with a question, lucky college students auditioned for the Jeopardy! College Championship in Chicago today.
Roughly 40 students from schools all over played the game in front of Jeopardy! recruiters, vying for a spot in the annual tournament.
Thousands take the online test each year. Of those that pass, about 200 students are randomly selected for in-person auditions throughout the country; just 15 will wind up chatting on screen with Alex Trebek.
"I was really nervous going in and I hope that didn't show too much," admitted Eileen Connon, an Otterbein University student who drove from Columbus, Ohio, to audition.
Feet were tapping in the hotel hallway as the Jeopardy! team gathered paperwork and photographed each auditioner.
After a brief introduction, the students took a fresh 50 question written test on a variety of topics. Each question flashed for mere seconds, so the group had to scribble answers quickly.
Then, groups of three played short games-making sure to buzz in rapidly-after the entire question was displayed on a projector screen.
I had a chance to experience the pressure, too. It was hard to instantly remember factoids with adrenaline rushing. I knew of a duo I wanted to name, but couldn't find the phrase. Still, I buzzed in to grab the opportunity and fumbled over my words until finally blurting out "Who is Isabella and Ferdinand?"
"I'm having fun. I'm enjoying it. It was nice to get there and practice the skills, use the buzzer," said Sam Blizzard with a smile. The University of Cincinnati junior auditioned previously for the Teen Tournament. He's hoping to make it onto the show this time around and has advice for others with the same goal.
"Continue being weird. Learn about the things that interest you, explore those things," he suggested.
Getting the correct answer is important, but there's more to the formula.
"It's not just people that can pass a very difficult test. It's how do they play Jeopardy! for us. Are they ringing correctly with the buzzer? Personality. Fun people is always what we're looking for," explained Glenn Kagan, the show's senior contestant coordinator.
Kagan, who's been with Jeopardy! for more than 30 years, chats with auditioners to see if they have that on-air appeal.
This crop of college applicants will find out if they fit the mold in December. The College Championship tapes early next year.
Jeopardy! auditions students in Chicago