The Sapiological Suspension of the Quizzical, or, How to Get Good at General Knowledge
It’s rare that I manage to go a whole blog post without mentioning QuizSoc. This one’s no exception.
I didn’t have any quizzing experience when I got to uni – unless you count going to charity quiz’n’chips nights and being really excited when my high school teachers did a Christmas quiz on the last day of term. I’d made up my mind that I wanted to join QuizSoc a few weeks before I moved to Warwick, even though my general knowledge at the time wasn’t particularly great – I liked the feel of the society as seen through their Facebook.
Over the past year, my general knowledge has definitely improved a lot. It’s still not the best, but I’m planning to improve even more over the coming years. It’s not just a case of turning up to buzzer quiz and hoping I learn something any more – I’ve found some resources that have helped me to improve.
The High School Quizbowl Packet Archive is where we get most of our questions for buzzer quiz from. The questions are split into four categories – from easiest to hardest: Middle School, High School, College and Open. It’s worth noting that quizbowl is a very American game and that there will be some American history, pop culture and literature questions that seem way more difficult than the rest of the set, as well as some British stuff that seems really easy. In some actual tournaments, the questions get “Briticised” to tailor them to the UK quizbowl scene.
Quinterest is a searchable database of questions, and I find it very useful if I want to learn about something very specific. It’s nice to be able to compare common clues between questions – so if I was looking for Soren Kierkegaard, I’d note that a lot of questions mention a book split into two parts, with the second part being about a judge (referring to Either/Or), mentions the "teleological suspension of the ethical" and almost always ends with “Danish existentialist philosopher”.
Protobowl is an online version of quizbowl – you can play individually or against other players from around the world. They have specific rooms for different difficulties and subjects, but you can set up a private room to fit your needs. It’s a little bit buggy, and it sometimes prompts weirdly, but it does the job most of the time.
You Gotta Know is a list of lists of things that commonly come up in quizbowl, and usually gives a brief description of each. Want to know about paintings? There’s a list for that. Economists? Check. Rivers in Asia? Sure, why not.
There’s also Sporcle, which is nice to practice list-learning type stuff – countries of the world comes to mind. Of course, browsing Wikipedia can also help with less specific general knowledge.