Many candidates attempting competitive exams put off their preparations till a few days before the test. For success, this tendency has to be curbed and studies should start as early as possible.
The general knowledge questions in the exams conducted by the Public Service Commission (PSC) would test the candidate’s basic knowledge as well as grasp of current events.
A few examples of questions asked traditionally include:
Why is the sky blue?
Why do you shiver in a breeze when you are sweating?
The skeletal system, organs, hormones, causes of diseases, matching organs and diseases affecting them (pancreas – diabetes), vitamins. Sample question: Which is the largest bone in the human body?
Fundamental Rights, important Articles (Article 356 – gives the President the powers to dismiss a state government), Schedules (Eighth Schedule – the list of recognized languages), major amendments, Parliament, President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Supreme Court.
Cultural bodies, Akademies, noted artistes.
India’s geography, scientific achievements, satellite launches, hydro-electric projects, industries, crops, national parks, tourist centres, minerals, state capitals, monuments, museums, India’s economy, poverty line, airports, exports and imports.
However, memorizing such a large number of facts may not be easy and this is not a complete list.
Now here is a short tale related to general knowledge. A teacher taught a child many important facts and told him that they constituted GK, the abbreviation for general knowledge. Then the teacher asked his ward, “Have you learnt GK?”
“Of course! GK stands for God Knows!”
The child felt alarmed that so many facts had to be learnt at one stretch.
But this story stresses the fact that basic knowledge can only be gained gradually. A long-term plan has to be prepared for the purpose rather than mugging up everything while applying for a job after completing a degree or post-graduate course.
Ideally, preparations for GK tests have to start from high school classes itself. The adage ‘One step at a time’ suits perfectly for the purpose.
Source of facts
General knowledge has to be picked up from various sources. But reading numerous books to acquire the knowledge may not be possible for everyone. Children have to keep a notebook in which they can write down the facts that interest them. However, this will not be sufficient to clear GK tests. Books on GK are available at shops which would help youngsters learn many new facts. However, errors are common in such books and it would be better to buy the books of two publishers. To clear doubts, check the reference books in libraries or reputed websites.
There are people who may be able to explain matters, but never trust such knowledge fully. After listening to people, cross check with reference books.
Another source of knowledge is a year book. A number of error-free year books are now available, both in English and Malayalam. However, a Malayalam volume is not an exact translation of an English year book brought out by the same publisher. A Malayalam year book would have more focus on Kerala, while the English version gives the spelling of many words. As most GK tests are in English medium, a year book in English as well as other books in that language would prove beneficial for candidates.
A publication that is much helpful in this regard is ‘Manorama Thozhil Veedhi’. There are several advantages for reading this journal regularly. Apart from updating readers on job notifications, Manorama Thozhil Veedhi offers the facility to practise GK tests. Thozhil Veedhi includes the question papers of most competitive exams along with correct answers. For instance, when the questions papers of PSC tests for the post of lower division clerks in several districts are compared, it can be seen that a pattern is followed. Moreover, some questions may even be repeated. When a candidate make preparations considering these aspects, it increases the chances of success.
For learning current events, a different approach is necessary. Early preparations will not be beneficial for the purpose. The events taking place up to the period when the exam is held have to be followed. Candidates can read the newspapers daily and note down the events and people in the news at the national and international levels. For state PSC tests, more importance needs to be given for Kerala news.
Making a list of 4-5 events daily is not a difficult task. It also makes candidates eager to follow the latest events and read the newspaper regularly. Negative news, political statements etc. can be avoided.
By not only following the news but also forming own opinions about them would later help the candidates during a job interview and group discussion. Reading the editorial of standard newspapers as well as magazines such as ‘The Week’, ‘India Today’, ‘Frontline’ and ‘Outlook’ is another way to take a stand. Watching English TV channels gives an idea about various views on contemporary issues in India while international channels such as BBC and CNN can make candidates aware of newsmakers around the world and the pronunciation of their names.
Quality magazines aimed exclusively for candidates attempting competitive exams is another option. These publications have separate sections such as national, international, sports etc.
But it must be remembered that no one can grasp every piece of knowledge that is available. In fact, there is no need to do that to clear a competitive exam. By acquiring basic facts as a long-term process, along with keeping abreast of the latest developments and forming own opinions on them would go a long way in achieving success.