Tips to Boost Your Basic General Knowledge in 2024
Basic general knowledge is one of the very important things that no only get you through the exam, but also through career, job, society, and life. Here’s what you need to do to boost your basic general knowledge.
What springs into your mind when say general knowledge? For some, it may be a question related to a field such as a history, economics, science, and geography, while for others it might be some sort of news or current affairs. General knowledge is information about any topic that is culturally accepted and valued. It can be about countries, politics, society, world affairs, history, civilization, economy, games, basically covering all the aspects of human life. It’s not a subject but a vast ocean of information accumulated and arranged over time propagated through various media, such as verbal or written.
This article is mainly divided into the following segments:
- The lack of basic general knowledge among people
- A short quiz to test your knowledge
- Importance of general knowledge
- Ways to boost your GK
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Lack of basic general knowledge among people
If you ask a question about who is the current president of the United States of America, believe it or not, most people will fail to answer it. The situation is so disappointing that in one of the surveys conducted for the Annual Status of Education Report for rural India in 2017, it was revealed that when shown a map of India to rural students from India, 14% could not identify it, 36% failed to name the country’s capital, and 21% were unable to name the state they lived in. Ok, we can still blame this ignorance on the lack of proper education in rural areas, but what about the people who have all the access to excellent sources of information and still fail to answer the basic questions.
If you think that proper education and access to the internet will ensure a good command of general knowledge, you need to rethink that opinion. For example, in a developed country like the USA, a survey discovered (National Geographic) that even college-going students were not able to answer questions regarding world affairs.
Particularly, the students found it difficult to answer the simple general knowledge questions about population, language, and religion. You can also find countless videos on YouTube wherein people fail to answer the most basic questions.
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Go through this short GK quiz to test your brain.
- Which is the continent with most countries?
- Who discovered radium?
- What do the five rings in the Olympic emblem represent?
- Who is the CEO of Amazon?
- Where is the world’s highest mountain located?
- What does an entomologist study?
- What is the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth?
- Which country has the largest armed forces?
- Where was the first case of coronavirus reported?
- Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer won a noble prize in which field?
How many of the above-stated questions were you able to answer? Even if you were able to answer most of these questions, which are more or less basic general knowledge questions, you still have a long way to go for you to call yourself an expert.
Importance of general knowledge
My father has a daily routine of reading the newspaper in the morning coupled with a cup of tea. His day is incomplete if he does not go through the sheets of the newspaper smelling of fresh ink. Well, to tell you the truth I used to find it very boring initially but later on as I matured, I realized why he was doing that and to my surprise began reading the newspaper myself after having disliked the habit so much.
He did not have a really sound academic background as other people but his range of knowledge on various subjects is sufficient to embarrass degree holders. If we are talking about the current scenarios, most of the younger generations don’t possess the knowledge of basic general topics. So, let’s talk about how having a good grip over both current and static affairs is critical to the overall growth of an individual.
1. Instant conversation starters
Have you ever felt completely left out in a conversation? Or faced the embarrassment of not having any idea about the topic your friends are talking about? Having basic knowledge about common concepts or being up-to-date with the important events and latest trends will definitely save you from the embarrassing and awkward moments of silence you might have faced many a time. After all, common interests and ideas bring people together, facilitating a conversation with each other and forming a strong social bond.
2. Helps you to improve your decision making
Having a good grasp of basic knowledge based on domestic and global affairs will definitely help you to make well-informed decisions. General knowledge helps you do everything from planning an eco-friendly wedding to balancing a check-book whether investing money in a firm or planning a vacation, you will be guided in all phases of your life.
3. Forming an Opinion
If you have a basic understanding of the stuff going around, you will be able to form an opinion of your own without being influenced by anybody and following others’ opinions unwittingly. You will soon begin to realize that you can figure out the way the world functions. Whether it is about political affairs or the recent bills and amendments going around, you will be able to have your own viewpoint. Voting for a suitable election candidate will not seem like a wasteful task.
4. Socializing with foreign people will become much easier
Interacting with people from different backgrounds will not be as daunting as before. Remembering to learn the capitals of countries, finding their positions on the world map, well to me it seemed a hard task back when I was not into learning. Culture and geography will no longer be a barrier for you. General knowledge about countries, regions, customs, religions, cultures, and geography helps you to gain a better perspective about the world and the people who live in it
5. Confidence booster
Even in the times of Google, General Knowledge still matters! Isn’t it much faster if you know things instead of googling them always? Although one cannot do without Google during these times, a little bit of reliance on one’s self is not a bad idea whatsoever. Being armed with a variety of facts and figures about a broad range of subjects with a strong command of your language will boost your confidence. Additionally, you will no longer find it intimidating to speak publicly or to put forth your opinions in front of other people clearly and confidently. Open debates and discussions will not seem as fearful as they did before.
6. Helps in Competitive exams
Almost all of the entrance and competitive exams require the candidates to possess a basic GK awareness in order to make a cut to the qualifying list. Even in interviews, almost 90% of the questions are asked to evaluate your general awareness. However, one cannot deny that it can be tiring and burdensome to learn all the advanced general knowledge concepts in just a few months. Although if you have a strong foundation of basic general knowledge, it becomes a lot easier for you.
7. Improves your spoken English
Being a regular reader can also help to boost your vocabulary of a language. Many people are reading English newspapers such as The Hindu, Times of India, and Economic times to improve their spoken English.
8. Impress others
You don’t always need the guitar or a good singing skill to impress people. How about telling them the story behind the festival of Diwali or that Cinderella shoes were actually made of squirrel fur and not glass. Well, if you are an aware person with something worth sharing and discussing, people would certainly love not only to talk to you but also engage themselves with you. You also will always have something new to bring to the table.
9. Nurture your creative mind
It will open the gates of creativity and innovation. If you want to stand out in a crowd, only having imbibed an academic textbook will not suffice. The extra knowledge you gain with research, reading, and visual media, will help you to create new ideas, combine ideas, and come up with novel thoughts that can make an impact on others and enhance your personality.
10. It will keep you up-to-date with the latest trends
You will find yourself being aware of the latest trends in the fields of technology, science, media, and what you got. Whether it’s the novel mobile features, the discovery of a new species of butterfly, the re-emergence of a species long thought to be extinct, or the latest world record in T-20 cricket, you will know it all.
Now after having realized the necessity to have a basic knowledge about a variety of subjects, you must be thinking about how you can develop your expertise in it. Honestly, there is no shortcut to acquiring knowledge instantly, as knowledge gaining is a continuous process requiring a curious mind with a habit of always learning new things.
Here are some of the tried and tested methods to widen your spectrum of knowledge.
1. Read the newspaper
People especially, the younger generations, find it significantly boring or a waste of time to read a newspaper. But believe it or not, if you form a habit of reading a newspaper daily, even if it’s only regarding a particular topic you are interested in, with time it will fill you up with a vast wealth of information.
Although newspapers contain both regional and domestic tidings, do make sure to read the sections that also contain information about the globe. The “op-ed” column will surely give you a subjective perspective and compel you to think offbeat, i.e., different than the widely accepted viewpoint.
Gradually, you will witness not only a shift but a major transformation in your thinking skills and you shall be able to quickly understand the major developments around the world. The Guardian (UK), The Wall Street Journal (USA), The New York Times (USA), China Daily (China), The Times of India (India), The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), and The Asahi Shimbun (Japan), are some of the most popular newspapers around the globe.
The black and white piece of paper will help you to obtain a better understanding of your surroundings and world. Alternatively, you can also subscribe to anE-newspaper and read it anywhere whether on your toilet seat or in a metro station.
2. Watch Television
The simplest and most entertaining way is to watch television. Surely, many of you must be watching your favorite movies, dramas, or series on T.V. for long hours. Why not give a few minutes to the 24×7 News channels? The superfast morning bulletins can save a lot of your time.
How about watching an informative show or documentary? You must have heard about Man vs. Wild or Planet Earth.
Here is a list of channels you can watch to learn things entertainingly.
- Discovery: Nature, wildlife, lifestyle, food, adventure, and mysteries, you name it and the discovery channel has got shows and documentaries about almost anything.
- BBC Earth: As the name suggests, it is all about nature and earth. Some of the famous documentaries include Frozen Planet, Life, Blue Planet, and Planet Earth.
- National Geographic: It features non-fiction, and documentaries involving nature, science, culture, and history
- History: It airs history-based documentaries and historical fiction series
- Animal Planet: For animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, this channel is a must-watch. It features series and documentaries about wild animals and domestic pets.
- Epic: It airs drama, comedy, action, and non-fiction and fictional programs that focus on Indian history and folklore.
These channels are goldmines of interesting information that shall keep you riveted to your television while also adding significantly to your knowledge pool.
Popular T.V. shows such as “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” or the Indian version thereof “Kaun Banega Crorepati” is also all about GK. They serve the dual purposes of serving you with entertainment and knowledge, i.e., infotainment.
3. Websites and Apps
Living in the age of the internet has made things super easier than before. You can find almost anything on the web. But beware, not everything on the web is genuine. Many websites either share wrong knowledge or do not update their knowledge base. Moreover, many sites merely chat platforms wherein people share their personal views and opinions without providing a trustworthy reference or link. Hence, you need to find reliable and credible sources on the web.
Here is a list of some websites and application you can use to your benefit:
- Britannica– This extensive encyclopedia is a pretty famous and reliable source of information. You can find GK articles available in simple and easy-to-understand language.
- Encyclopedia– A free encyclopedia with information on millions of topics. What else do you need to satisfy your curious minds?
- Infoplease– I recently came across this website. What I found great about this website is that it is really interactive and fun, unlike others. For example, you can play quizzes or visit their various sections such as “the top 10” or “a day in the history page” to learn about various things as per your interests and mood.
- Wikipedia– We all know about Wikipedia. It has been our most reliable friend when we needed to write an assignment quickly. Most of the information provided on it is backed up with trustable links and references.
- You can just start by downloading a quiz app providing you with simple general knowledge questions. There are also countless apps such as Wikipedia, QuizUp, Ted, gktoday, and Inshorts to widen your domain of knowledge.
4. YouTube channels
There are numerous channels you can subscribe to on YouTube to improve your GK. However, if you are overwhelmed about what to read and what to skip in a newspaper or find a topic difficult to understand, just search it on YouTube and you can find countless videos on that topic. You can choose the channel you find the best according to your understanding and interests. So, the next time instead of watching the videos of your favorite actors or idols just doing normal mundane activities, try watching informative channels that will smarten you up.
I suggest that you visit the following channels:
- Study IQ
- Mental Floss
- National geographic
- Common sense Education
5. General knowledge books
You must have heard that books are your best friend. If you are tired of straining your eyes by watching the screen of your laptop or mobile, just follow the traditional way of reading books and magazines. There are hundreds of encyclopedias and GK books available in bookstores (for example, Lucent and Arihant) and online platforms (such as Encyclopedia and Britannica).
Editions of competitive books and magazines such as Down to Earth, The Economist, Very Short Introductions, Science Reporter, and Manorama Yearbook can be really helpful in enhancing your knowledge of a particular topic.
6. Articles and Blogs
You can also follow your favorite blogger to know more about the things you are interested in. Reading a blog allows you to widen your range of thinking. What is more, you get to see things from more than one perspective regarding a particular topic. For example, if you are an environmentalist, you can follow blogs such as Tree hugger, Grist, EcoWatch, Inside Climate News, and BBC: Earth blog.
7. Online community groups
Online community Q & A websites are really helpful, as you can post your queries, doubts, and problems and expect a variety of answers from real people. And if you have good knowledge about a topic, you can always help others by satiating the queries of other people too. Here are some you might want to refer to
- Yahoo answers
- Stack Exchange
8. Listening to the Radio
I know many of you must be thinking about who listens to the radio nowadays. But there are still some people who enjoy listening to it. The best thing about the radio is that you can do your household chores or office work and simultaneously gain information and news about a variety of topics.
Many radio stations host quiz contests wherein you are just required to make a telephonic call and answer the questions and win amazing prizes, for example, the GK quiz that airs on 102.1 MHz Akashvani. However, if you are already an avid listener, just tune to the station and fill up your brain with all sorts of facts and figures.
9. Reading Novels and Books
I am not talking about your regular academic textbooks here. There is much more to read in the world. You can learn about a lot of cultures, customs, lifestyles, and problems from reading books. For example, reading “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” is a reminder of the horrors of political instability from the perspective of a teenage girl suffering for reason unbeknownst to her and will surely melt your heart and goad you into thinking of the futility of hatred and political vengeance, whereas “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” is a fun and interactive book for studying the early human history.
10. Visiting places
Experience is the best teacher you can find in the whole world. You don’t easily forget the things you experience. If you are a wildlife enthusiast, you can pay a visit to a museum to know about the history or a wildlife sanctuary to feel nature with your own eyes. If you want to know about a place or a country, you might be interested in visiting it, provided it does not cut a hole in your pocket. Also, while visiting a particular place, do interact with the local people to know about regional history, culture, monuments, legends, and folklore.
Good background knowledge will help you to understand things in a better way. It will make you more aware and a smarter individual. Academic knowledge with sufficient information about the world and its affairs will expand the horizon of your thinking and make you understand multiple perspectives effortlessly, and your critical thinking skills might also enhance in the process. So, what are you waiting for? Work on it from today only. Pick your favorite areas of interest and dwell in the deep ocean of general knowledge.
Do not forget to google the answers to the questions I asked at the beginning of this article.