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How To Play Scattergories (5 Minute Guide)

How To Play Scattergories (5 Minute Guide)


Scattergories is a creative-thinking game where players try to come up with as many answers as possible during timed rounds. Each round has a chosen list of categories and a chosen letter (picked by the roll of a letter die), players try to fulfill each category with an example that starts with the letter that has been rolled. After each round, answers are shared aloud and points are awarded. The player with the most points by the end of 3 rounds wins.

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Before the game begins, ensure that each player has one of the Scattergories folders in their possession. Each folder should have a set of category lists inside from #1 – #16. These lists should be slid under the left clip of each player’s folder. Decide as a group which list you want to play, all players should then move that numbered list to the top of the pile under the left clip of the folder.

Make sure that each player has an answering sheet, this will go under the clips on the right-hand side of the folder. Each player should also receive a pencil or other writing tool. Make sure the timer and the letter die are in view of all players and you are ready to play!


To win Scattergories, one must score as many points as possible over the 3 rounds. A player scores points by having an accepted answer for a category that no other player has.


  1. Decide on a list # and make sure that all players have that list in front of them. All lists have 12 categories.
  2. Roll the letter die to determine what letter all answers for that round must start with. There are 20 sides to this letter die.
  3. Start the timer by pressing the top.
  4. Players must now try to fill in as many categories as they can using the first column of their answer sheet. Acceptable answers have to fit the given category and must start with the chosen letter.

Ex. If the category is Flowers and the letter is “D”: Daisy and Daffodil are acceptable answers. Rose or Duck are not.

  • Keep writing until the timer stops. Once the timer stops, all players must put down their pencils.
  • Next, all players must share their answers. Players take turns sharing their answer for each category aloud. If two or more players share the same answer for the same category, it must be crossed off their list, neither player gets credit.

Unless answers are challenged by other players or have already been crossed off due to another player having the same answer, each answer is awarded 1 point. If a player has an answer where both words start with the chosen letter, they will receive 2 points.

Ex. Mickey Mouse, The Brady Bunch, Carson City

  • Once scoring for the first round is completed, repeat steps 1-6 until all 3 rounds are completed. For each new round, a new letter will be rolled but the list will remain the same.
  • At the end of the third and final round, players will tally their total number of points. The player with the most points wins. 

Acceptable Answers and Challenging Answers:

As Scattergories is a creatively based game, there will be moments where players are unsure if an answer is acceptable. Here are more guidelines for acceptable answers.

  • The first word of your answer must match the chosen letter.
  • Articles like “the”, “a”, or “an” cannot be used as the chosen letter. Therefore, “The Shining” would not be acceptable for the letter “T” but it would be acceptable for the letter “S”.
  • Answers cannot be repeated on the same player’s list. For example: Apple can not be an answer for both “Types of Fruit” and for “Things at a Picnic”.
  • The plural version of a word acts as the same word as the singular.

Ex. A player cannot use desk for one answer and desks for another.

  • Players cannot use adjectives as the first word for an answer.

Ex. Red apples does not qualify for the letter “R”.

  • Full names can be given as answers using either the first or the last name.

Ex. Elton John could be written as Elton John for the letter “E” or John, Elton for “J”.

  • Creative or unusual answers are permitted but can also be challenged by other players.

Challenging Answers:

Any player is allowed to challenge an answer they deem unacceptable. The answer will then be put to a vote. If the majority of players deem it unacceptable it will not be counted, if most players believe the answer to be acceptable, it will receive a point as normal.

Ending the Game:

The game ends after all 3 rounds have been completed and scored.


Players will receive 1 point for every answer that starts with the chosen letter and fulfills the category. If an answer is challenged and is not considered acceptable by enough players, it will not receive a point.

If two or more players have the same answer for the same category, no player with that answer will receive a point.  

If a player has an answer with multiple words that all start with the chosen letter, they will receive a point for each letter. Ex. Ronald Reagan

Quick Info:

Expected play time: 30 minutes

Suggested Playing Age: 10 +

Expansions: Scattergories Refill

Community Rating: 6.2

Difficulty: Easy

Published Year: 1988

Publisher: Parker Brothers/Hasbro

Awards: 1990 Mensa Select Winner

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