How to go about improving significantly

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narkyiain
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How to go about improving significantly

Postby narkyiain » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:46 pm

On the site before the downtime, Dr.Gary Grant had a thread on a similar subject and it had some interesting suggestions in it. I've followed AnotherAnne's BBC4 documentary watching suggestion, and enjoyed a lot of them, but the fruits are, as my results at my 2 GPs show, limited so far. Tied 27th being my best of 6 goes at at A+C,Civilisation and Physical World.

I would be very interested in 2 things in particular, getting better at my weak areas, and getting better at digging up answers I know but can't dredge up. I would happily swap improvement in my weak areas for a regression in stronger ones if that's all I'm capable of so that I don't feel totally out of my depth for more up market subjects.

Any tips for these things would be gratefully received, as would restating of tips from the lost thread.

ps Sorry for being so pompous, hopefully any followups will be easier to read.

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Sequin
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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby Sequin » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:07 pm

The best way to get better at quizzes is to do more quizzes!

I consider the brain to be like a muscle - the more exercise it gets, the stronger it becomes. I find it difficult to sit down and read reference material, but find that if I don't get an answer right, I will remember it for next time (and there will be a next time for 95% of questions)
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Baldassaro
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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby Baldassaro » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:47 pm

I tend to agree with Sequin about the benefits of doing lots of quizzes. You also tend to get better at spotting likely questions, so can direct your learning more accurately. I also recommend doing on-line quizzes on sites like Sporcle - my knowledge of the periodic table, for example, has got much better since I started doing the Sporcle version of it every week or so.

Another good wheeze is setting quizzes for other people. I know that Phil Smith set a regular sports quiz for a club he goes to, and attributes his major improvement in this genre to doing this. If you set a question yourself, you tend to remember the answer.

As to recalling stuff, I think that's the 64 thousand dollar question. I tend to be able to remember stuff I'm interested in easily, but things I don't care about (Olympic medallists, for example, in my case) are much harder to recall. In the last episode of Sherlock, reference was made to a "memory palace" - an old technique in which you locate facts spatially in your head and recall them that way. Oddly enough, what I do is more like what Sherlock was shown as doing in the actual programme, which is building chains of associated facts. As I recall, a brief sequence showed him linking "hound" with "dog", "Elvis" and "Big Mama Thornton" - which is exactly how my memory constructs these chains. How many other people think like that, I don't know, but I hope it helps.

narkyiain
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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby narkyiain » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:12 pm

Cheers for the answers.

The quizzes I know of near me aren't much use at improving my weakest areas, they're too pop culture heavy, but the QLL and SFQL website ones have helped a little. The trouble with me is new facts seem to need to hook on to existing ones I've remembered so progress on areas of ignorance is slow.

I have tried a sort of narrative connection thing before, but very half-heartedly and not very succesfully. I think I'll try again on something that crops up a lot and that I'm not very good at. I'll also do more of the sporcle quizzes I'm liable to do badly at, I keep falling into the temptation to do broader quizzes that I score well on, not more specific harder ones I don't.

There seems to me to be 3 requirements to get better, available time, willingness to work at it and an intelligent approach. ATM I've got the first 2 but need help with the 3rd and those things are a good start hopefully.

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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby grecian » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:07 pm

Every quizzer would answer this one differently and every answer will have sense in it. There's no hard and fast way to improve, but if you've got the time and the dedication, I'd firmly expect you to improve.

As others have said, do quizzes. Even the most bog standard local pub quiz will assist you - if they're pop culture heavy, that will yield rewards in Entertainment and Lifestyle, for instance! See whether there are any leagues in your neck of the woods - leagues form an excellent intermediate level between basic pub quizzes and GPs. Watch television quizzes and pay attention - not any old rubbish, but watching e.g. University Challenge and Mastermind (and Eggheads, Pointless or the Chase if you've got the time) will give you a good amount of questions at the right sort of level.

Read! Pure reference works (e.g. Whitakers' Almanac or whatever) can be stultifying, so try to identify some target areas and browse a decent bookshop for some good books in that area. I swear by reading a quality newspaper fully every day, although many quizzers make do with things like the Week now without too many ill-effects. Use the web - Baldassaro suggested Sporcle (which I like but can't use at work without being rumbled!), but even social media like Facebook and Twitter are great for flagging things you should know. Many quizzers find quiz books ideal for helping with the basics - so get searching your local second-hand bookshops.

Setting is, as others have said, a great device for cementing knowledge. Maybe try offering your services to set a pub quiz locally? Or just set for your own enjoyment. Either way, I find that if I've set a question, I'm about 80% more likely to remember the fact than I would if I had merely read it.

You asked about dredging: there's no particular hints I have there. Some players rely on that a lot (myself included, it can easily take me 70 minutes to get the answer to a question sometimes), whereas others are of the "if I don't know it immediately, I won't ever know it" school. Connections are important for me, like Baldassaro, and also the "shapes" and look of words on the page. I quite often work backwards to an answer from an idea of what it looks like. Bit autistic probably but there you go.

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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby DanielFullard » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:38 pm

Time and effort is the way as I am beginning to find. Going to as many quizzes as possible is a great building block but I would not just rely on those to build knowledge. Of course you will get a feel for questions and what sort of things may be asked but it all depends on your ambitions really.

Im only 26 at present, which means 99% of quizzes I attend I am the youngest by a long way, particularly serious quizzes. Because a lot of the quizzes I attend have an older audience you tend to get older questions.....things about 60's and 70's etc. This means that I have learned a heck of a lot by just going to quizzes.

Another tip that has worked for me.....You may do this already but learning from mistakes is key. I always make a note of questions I get wrong in a question especially if its been one that I could not even hazard a reasonable guess at. Usually I come away with a few topics to study and it works.

References books........I know some people who hate using them, some who love it and some people it does not work for. I have a whole bookcase full of reference works and I have chosen 6 I am studying in depth this year. I have a set number of pages Im learning each week in order to finish them by the end of the year. Its working already and its a great base for me to build learning.

Quiz Books.....I have much more quiz books than reference books and there are some great one's out there. Sometimes sitting with a quiz book for an hour or two can be the most productive thing you can do with your "learning"time. As someone said, the more you get used to recalling information the better and this is an ideal way. Also using quiz league sites and getting the questions they use is ideal.

Everyone learns different we know that but as for weak areas I am devoting time to mine in various ways. Animals is one weak point, I am hopeless so bought myself a really great animal encyclopedia and have started to make sure I am watching nature documentaries each week and this is working.

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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby Baldassaro » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:40 pm

Interesting point about the shape and look of words. On lots of questions, I have a general idea of the number of syllables and of the type of letter involved (beginning with b, p or d, for example). Sometimes it can mislead you - at the last Grand Prix, I spent an age trying to recall Mo Farah's name (I said I knew nothing about athletics, didn't I?), not helped by my conviction that it was his surname that started with m, not his first name.

So I suppose I'm a bit autistic too (as my ex will tell you only too willingly, but that's another story)...

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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby grecian » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:49 pm

Yes, quite. The amount of times my "reasoning" behind an answer would sound something like "yeah, there's a U and an I and it's short - five or six letters long. Maybe an unusual letter in there, <Twenty minutes later> Ah, yeah, QUIPU, get in." would be considerable.

narkyiain
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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby narkyiain » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:49 pm

Great responses. You have certainly achieved my main goal, providing interesting reading for me and hopefully done more as well.

So I'll say, thanks to you and any future contributors, and keep quiet as otherwise I'll clutter things up further.

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Re: How to go about improving significantly

Postby EMon » Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:24 pm

I've only started trying to get much better at quizzes for about the last year. I've been on the school quiz team since first year, however I was only average. Last year we got to the UK Finals of the Senior Schools' Challenge and came 3rd. From then I have really wanted to win this year.

I was starting literally from the beginning, all knowledge I had was just natural. I hadn't any quiz related books but now have a good few. I've been watching University Challenge, Only Connect, the Chase, Pointless etc all the time now and can safely say I'm at least twice as good as I was last year, so here's hoping we can go further this year. You're probably far better than me and this probably won't apply to you, but for me, just the simple stuff (books, shows) has helped greatly and this place has been great too. I'm still very very weak in some topics but I've definitely improved a lot.


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