Tips to steadily increase, retain & improve your general knowledge
A good grasp of general knowledge is key to success in many areas of your life. Having a solid base of common knowledge will serve you well when it comes to your career, financial and health wellbeing, personal development and relationships.
Whether it’s impressing a potential employer at a job interview, having the ability to follow what is going on in the news or simply being able to take part in a lively conversation with your mates, general knowledge is essential.
If you’re seeking to increase and improve your general knowledge or deepen your ability to retain facts and figures, there are plenty of simple tips and techniques you can employ.
We’ll cover a range of tips that will help you steadily increase, widen, develop and improve your general knowledge. This article will help you weave a routine of common knowledge expansion into your day-to-day that will pay dividends in all areas of your life.
What is General Knowledge?
When we talk of general or common knowledge it usually refers to having a medium to advanced understanding of a range of topics that are relevant to our lives and culture. The topics can be diverse, but the following are considered core general knowledge topics:
- Culture and Art
- Current Affairs
- Media & Entertainment
Most general knowledge questions fall into one of the categories above. Common knowledge doesn’t mean you need to be an expert on any one of these topics.
For example, if you had enough knowledge to take a PHD in any of these subjects then that would go far beyond the level of understanding required for general knowledge.
Rather than requiring in-depth expertise on a specific topic, having good common knowledge requires you to have a medium-level grasp of a wide range of topics.
Why do I need to improve my general knowledge?
General knowledge is an asset that you will come to find useful in many facets of your life.
1. Improving career prospects
Employment – It is important to have a broad general knowledge to ensure you can compete with other candidates in the job market. Employers are always looking to hire intelligent, well-rounded individuals. Having a wide range of common knowledge and ability that you can apply enables you to master any task you encounter is an enviable skill.
Specialization – Oftentimes, when it comes to improving your general knowledge for your career, you are able to narrow down the areas of common knowledge that are most applicable to your chosen path and focus on those initially.
Currency of Djibouti? – For example, while it might not be important for you to know the population of Djibouti for your day to day job in accounting, it certainly makes a better impression if you know the currency for when you have a conference call with your African colleagues. (It’s the Djiboutian Franc.)
2. Improving social life and relationships
Communication – You might wonder why improving your general knowledge is important when it comes to your social life or relationships. But when you consider that all relationships are formed on the basis of communication and mutual understanding, you can see how having a good idea of the world around you and the society we live in can be advantageous in that.
Opinions – If you want to partake in the lively discussion that your mates are having in the pub about the headline news story of the week, you’re going to have much more interesting interjections and opinions if you know the background of the topic. Not to mention how popular you’ll be if you can answer all the questions at the next pub quiz!
Cultural understanding – Good general knowledge has social benefits too. For example, having a basic understanding of the world’s religions is vital for avoiding causing potential offense. If you know when Ramadan falls this year then scheduling a lunch date with your Muslim friend will be a lot easier and allows you to show you acknowledge an important aspect of their life.
3. Improving health and wellbeing
Be educated – When it comes to health and wellbeing, maintaining a good level of common knowledge is also highly advantageous. Advice on health is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep up with the latest developments in exercise, healthy eating and mental wellbeing in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for yourself.
Science – If you want to be able to follow the latest advice, a good level of general knowledge about the human body and how it works is crucial. Of course, we all learned a good amount about human anatomy and science at school, but it’s important to keep building on this knowledge if you want to maintain good long-term health.
Personality – It’s clear that many key facets of our personality and self are judged by how much common knowledge we have. If someone appears to lack certain common knowledge, others might question whether they are intelligent and if they have good problem-solving skills. Can someone who hasn’t got a general understanding of other cultures be a truly open-minded person?
If all of this has got you chomping at the bit to learn, we’re going to introduce you to the key techniques to improve your general knowledge.
Tips To Improve Your General Knowledge
1. Read frequently
Increasing the amount you read is a sure-fire way to improve your general knowledge. Both fiction and non-fiction books are packed full of information just waiting to be soaked up. By taking the time each day to read a book you are also priming your brain for daily information absorption in a relaxed and calming atmosphere. Learn to speed read here.
However, it’s not only bookworms who can benefit from reading to increase their general knowledge. Read newspapers, magazines, academic journals, blogs – anything you can lay your eyes on is a potential source to improve your general knowledge.
Tip: Set aside dedicated reading time each day in order to form a reading habit.
2. Keep up with the news
Keeping abreast of the latest news and what is going on in the world is absolutely key to maintaining and developing your breadth of common knowledge. In order to be able to understand and retain information on a wide range of subjects, you need to keep up with the latest developments on each topic.
The best way of doing this is setting aside a dedicated slot in your day to follow up on the news. How you consume the news is up to you – watch the news bulletin on the television, read a newspaper or simply look what is trending on Twitter!
A good way of encouraging yourself to stick to following the new daily is to subscribe to a daily newspaper. You can either have it delivered, or a subscription to the e-version.
3. Socialize frequently
Improving your general knowledge doesn’t have to be a solitary activity! In fact, one of the most fun ways of broadening your knowledge happens so naturally that you probably haven’t even noticed it.
Every time you talk with friends, meet up for a drink or call for a quick chat, you are in some way increasing your knowledge, however trivial the conversation may seem. Whether you talk about what you think of the latest political scandal or which type of flour makes the best cookies, you are steadily increasing your general knowledge.
You can even become a Knowledge Philanthropist by sharing the facts and knowledge that you have learnt with your friends. The very act of sharing information cements it even further into your long-term memory.
4. Fill ‘dead’ time with learning
Imagine you are driving to work or going out for a long run. It is impossible to read a book or watch the news while doing either of those activities, so you might abandon any idea of using that time to improve your general knowledge, right?
Wrong! This is the perfect time to focus on broadening the range of subjects you have a basic knowledge of, and podcasts are the way to do it.
You can listen to and download podcasts on nearly every topic. There’s a podcast for every subject, in fact there are thousands. Simply use the podcasts feature on iTunes, or download a dedicated podcast app for your smartphone.
Later on we will share the best podcasts to improve your general knowledge.
5. Make new media your friend
Television – Don’t disregard television programs as non-educational. Documentaries and news bulletins are an excellent way of brushing up your general knowledge. Even less high-brow shows such as reality TV can count towards your common knowledge of pop culture!
Internet – The internet is such an amazing resource when it comes to broadening your general knowledge. Websites such as Wikipedia give you an overview of almost every subject you could ever think of, and YouTube is there to give you a visual explanation of many topics. Read on for further handy websites to improve your general knowledge.
E-learning – You might find that exploring online courses suits your learning style and that you are easily able to improve your general knowledge from this visual and memorable teaching method. There even are several eLearning providers available online. To get started, we curated Top 10 lists of Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera and LinkedIn courses.
Tips to Retain General Knowledge
While it takes time and consistency to increase your general knowledge, it’s also important to learn how to retain knowledge. Your ability to memorize facts and figures is somewhat dependent on your natural ability to remember, but there are handy techniques available to retain new knowledge effectively.
1. Write information down
A good way of solidifying information into your brain as you learn it is to write it down, ideally by hand rather than on a computer. The act of writing requires your brain to engage with the content and therefore makes it easier to recall at a later date.
Tip: Buy a dedicated notebook to jot down all your common knowledge facts so that they’re all in one place for you to review at regular intervals.
2. Spaced Repetition
If there is a particular fact you want to remember, don’t chant it to yourself over and over. Allow your brain several hours followed by several days to fully internalize the information.
You can do this by using flashcards with facts on them that you look back through every couple of hours after learning the information. Follow this up the next day, since a good sleep can be instrumental in your brain’s ability to retain general knowledge.
The chunking technique is a popular learning method and allows to chunk long and complex information into groups, thus making those chunks and their information easier to remember. You can click the link above to learn more about chunking in our tutorial.
4. Share it
Think back to what we said earlier about how socializing is an important part of building up and retaining general knowledge. Being a Knowledge Philanthropist and sharing what you have learned with friends helps your brain recall the information in a structured way and store it in your long-term memory to be used again. Teaching is the best way to learn.
General Knowledge Quizzes & Tools
If you’re looking for different tools and apps that can help with improving your general knowledge, a good place to start is with these best general knowledge quizzes:
mentalfloss.com – Access to plenty of quizzes on a wide range of subjects from geography to entertainment.
sporcle.com – The world’s largest trivia quiz website tests your knowledge on every subject you could ever think of.
If you don’t find quizzes stimulating, you may try these best general knowledge podcasts:
Stuff you should know – This is the best podcast to answer all those burning questions you have about the world. Since 2008 they’ve been researching and sharing with us all the things we should know more about.
No such thing as a fish – This is a podcast brought to you by the brains behind the popular quiz show, QI. Each week they fish out interesting bits of random and bizarre information they’ve found and discuss it.
Quiz quiz bang bang trivia – Think of this podcast as a weekly training session for your next pub quiz. Each week you’ll be challenged as you improve you trivia knowledge.
When looking for the best general knowledge websites, there are a few that stand out:
howstuffworks.com – An educational website that does what it says on the tin. If you want to know how pretty much anything works, you will find the answer here, covering everything from the difference between the different grits of sandpaper to how to make slime.
encyclopedia.com – Way back before the internet, we would always consult a book to find out the information we needed. This is the online version of an old-fashioned encyclopedia, which collates information from trusted publishers of over 200 different encyclopedias.
instanerd.me – This is a really fun website to improve your general knowledge in a quick-fire way. Click start on the homepage and you will be shown a short piece of easy-to-digest information about a random topic. If you want to know more about the subject, you can read further, or if you want you can move straight onto the next fact.
Fun Ways to Enhance General Knowledge – Gamification
Scientists have proven that one of the most effective ways to learn is to make learning fun for the brain. Think about ways you can ‘gamify’ your general knowledge studies.
Gamification is the use of gaming concepts such as points, awards, challenges and recognition to make something more interesting, or even give it the addictive quality of playing a computer game.
TV Quiz – A good way of doing this is to use existing game formats in your learning. For example, you could start a habit of watching one television quiz show daily and challenge yourself to beat the contestants. You can find many old quiz show episodes on YouTube.
Challenge – You could also set yourself a challenge of answering 100 general knowledge quiz questions correctly in order to add a sticker to a general knowledge progress chart.
Implement – Try testing yourself against the clock too. For example, you could use the two minutes when you brush your teeth each morning to try and memorize 10 new facts.
Improve Your General Knowledge – Summary
General knowledge plays such a vital role in our ability to be and project the best versions of ourselves. It can help us grow as individuals and collectively build a better and more understanding society.
There are so many different ways of improving your general knowledge that the best way is to try out all of them and see which ones are most effective for you and your learning style. Are you someone who learns best from a book, or would you find flashcards more helpful? The most important thing about whichever method you choose is to be consistent with it.
Once you’ve built a routine of increasing your general knowledge into your daily life, make sure you work on retaining what you have learnt, by using the knowledge, by repetition and by sharing it.
As you start to build up your common knowledge you’ll find that rather than it being your nemesis, you can turn it into being an impressive party trick.
5 General Knowledge Questions
Question: What is philematology?
Answer: The science of kissing.
Question: The Average American does what 22 times a day?
Answer: Opens Fridge
Question: What do the lowercase initials U.S. stand for in England?
Answer: Useless. The initials, originally used in the army, are derived from the word unserviceable.
Question: What do the initials o.g. man to a stamp collector?
Answer: “Original gum” It indicates that the gum that was on the back of a stamp when it was first issued is still there.
Question: Bunc was one of the first names for what product?
Have you got any tips and techniques on how to improve your general knowledge? Please share your strategies in the comments below.