So, as you can see, there are indeed some questions that require us to simply know things, such as current events. But others can be solved or at least narrowed down by logic alone. A key point I’d like to stress is this part here:
Answer B is a “distractor” because it is a typical Irish surname
Observe than that it is done on purpose and that you should be aware of this tactic. If you’re unsure in some question and something is really trying to catch your attention to its similarity to the question topic, take a moment to consider that it might really just be there to bait you into marking the wrong option.
Though I can’t say that I’ve seen this in many past papers, we do have some examples from the 2019 test:
Which one of the following composed the opera Madama Butterfly?
- Giacomo Puccini
- Richard Wagner
- Georges Bizet
- Gioachino Rossini
- Giuseppe Verdi
Rossini was present to try to confuse you with Puccini, due to the similar sounding name.
Which one of the following countries did NOT adopt the coins and banknotes of the Euro as its currency on 1 January 2002?
Here Finland was trying to distract candidates, if they could only remember that adoption isn’t as widespread across Northern or Eastern European countries.
Which one of these events in world history happened most recently?
- The building of the Taj Mahal
- The crowning of Charlemagne
- The October Revolution in the Russian Empire
- The Taiping Rebellion in China
- The fall of the Western Roman Empire
Here the Taiping Rebellion intended to confuse candidates with limited history of eastern events. They could remember the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and mistake them with the rebellion from the 1850’s.
Which one of the following literary works does NOT originate in the corresponding country?
- The Divine Comedy – Italy
- Oedipus Rex – Greece
- The Poems of Rumi – China
- Don Quixote – Spain
- The Tale of Genji – Japan
Again, most of these pieces are very well known, except for the Asian ones (this seems to be a recurring theme), but Genji here is the distractor, but Rumi isn’t a Chinese name, so some knowledge of the cultures and languages would come to the rescue.
That is not to say that every time there will be a distractor, nor that they are always the most attention grabbing like the original Cambridge James Joyce example, but it might be useful to be aware that it is a possibility.
At the end of the day it doesn’t change the fact that this section cannot be objectively studied for, but attention, careful deliberation and sometimes knowing when not to take a bait or skip might earn you or at least save you a few points.
I suggest that you at the very least read the General Knowledge questions at the beginning of the test, even if you don’t know the answers. It may be enough for your brain to refresh some forgotten knowledge you’ve come across along the years. Just give them a glance, see what they talk about, answer any that you’re more certain and come back to them once you’ve finished you test. It may be that nothing changes about your memory, but it can also happen that something sparks back there, and you are able to score some precious 1.5, or 3 points.
The other remarks and examples surely can be applied to more questions throughout the years, and it is worth bringing them to mind when facing a particularly alien question that may be providing you with some clues in regards of where to shoot to. If it can help you narrow things down from 5 to 3 or 2, it may be enough for you to consider a guess.
But in general, don’t count on points from the General Knowledge for your passing grade. If you’re truly relying on those questions to pass, you’re only giving yourself a looser knot to hang, as even with these pointers, the questions revolve around luck of knowing some trivial fact over anything else, and you shouldn’t be feeling bad if you don’t know every piece of curiosity there is about the world.
Audio-visual resources are great fonts for learning. Also, with YouTube, podcasts and audiobooks you can have control over your playback speed, which can allow you to go through content much faster than the conventional 1x speed. I don’t recommend going straight for a 2.5x as you would probably barely understand, but you can build up to that point.
Start with 1.5x, once you’re comfortable, do 0.1 or 0.2 incremental steps. Always make sure that the new speed is still comprehensible and that you’re in fact retaining the information, before trying a harder level. Over the course of 2 to 6 months you should be able to listen to content at least in 2.0x speed, which can be faster than simply reading.
YouTube can be your salvation or damnation and knowing to focus on the good is essential to getting the most out of it. The channels listed below are ones I personally believe in and that I believe that the content produced is thoroughly researched and accurate. It doesn’t mean they have no flaws or that they are always right and unbiased, but they are honest about their content and do work post the highest quality content.
This channel tries to analyze the science behind some iconic POP culture contents (such as cartoons, movies, books or comics). It’s been a while since they’ve uploaded new content, but the content they have put out so far is of good quality without missing out on the entertainment factor (if you like this sort of thing, that is).
This channel goes through a range of topics and curiosities, from distance of planetary orbits to history to well, pretty much anything. It focuses on examining some of the ways we ask questions with their videos and can help us think better in general.
Here we have some good classes in nearly any topic. Literature, Chemistry, Biology, History, you name it, they probably have videos covering those topics. They are more class like than most of the other channels I’m listing here, but the presence of the visuals of videos can really appeal to people and help visualize and internalize lots of contents we go through for the IMAT, so it can also work well for revisions or previews of contents you’ll dive in deeper during your studies. Also, most episodes feature a biography of a historical figure relevant to that topic, which absolutely helps in GK.
Kurzgesagt is just awesome. If you don’t know them yet, you really should. The videos are amazingly animated, their research is pristine and linked in the descriptions (and they’re honest about their earlier videos faults) and they are great for science contents. Their videos feature a bit of biology, astrophysics, and some philosophical questions.
Chemistry only channel. Watch high quality footage and explanations of chemical reactions, really helps you get a sense of separation methods, and if you’re specially attentive, you may really memorize some key reactions or compounds.
This channel is dedicated to explaining how some tech works, it has some really interesting videos, and while not all might be relevant to the curriculum, they can help some concepts get contextualized in day to day appliances (such as the AC video and gas expansion, or the one about different wavelengths of light).
Another great resource for multiple purposes. Features short videos on a very wide range of topics, including literature, math, biology, all under 10 minutes.
Biology turned into a game. While the core of the channel might not be the most useful, since evolution isn’t a key feature of the exam, but again, it features other information in context, which always help us remember those bits later.
Covers lots of diverse topics, from places to technology. Maybe not the most on topic channel on this list, but I find that learning different stuff somehow makes other stuff make more sense, even when they’re not entirely related.
Probably one of the greatest channels to make this list, very comprehensive. Features science of all kinds. I cannot recommend this enough, as it gives you those bits of biographies that go along with some math and physics, which can really help in the test!
Podcasts are a great way of acquiring knowledge. If you chose the appropriate platform (I suggest using the Overcast App if you’re an Apple user) you’ll get no suggestions and your library will only consist of content that you cherrypicked to help you.
Overcast also has the benefit of being able to speed up through non-voice gaps (such as music or just silence that isn’t edited out), which can significantly reduce the length of an episode without even listening to it at a greater speed.
Here are some of the ones I listen to that are relevant for GK, and I’ll not write reviews for them, as they are too many. I’ll mark in bold the ones I already listen to. The ones I’ve picked up but haven’t got around to listening yet will be unmarked.
I wish I had the time to listen to all of these and give you guys a review of each of them. You can see I’m biased towards science and history, with very little regarding literature. But there are great podcasts for those topics as well, it’s just that I haven’t gotten around to even searching for them. Besides, I read a lot of books, so I have less of an interest in podcasts that discuss topics that I have more firsthand contact.
I cannot recommend audiobooks enough. At first, I was really hesitant to listen to books, but I found that the experience is delightful. Audiobooks are more than just a person reading a book out loud. Rather, professional voice actors narrate the contents for you, and it feels like your own personal storyteller.
A good narrator will have distinct voices for different characters, will vary tone and narration speed depending on the mood and will absolutely make the story come to life for you. Non-fiction books are also available as audiobooks and narrators know how to strike the balance between the seriousness of the text and a compelling listening experience. So, pick whatever book you’d like to get acquainted to and listen to your heart’s content.
There are various audiobook providers, but Amazon’s Audible has been my favourite for years now. Recently they even changed the way their subscriptions work, providing tons of free titles as part of your membership. This means lots of classics that show up on the IMAT, so it is a great deal!