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General Knowledge Solving Tips

Solving general knowledge puzzles, surprisingly enough, requires a considerable amount of general knowledge. So far, so obvious. But how do you go about getting the knowledge that you require to solve a general knowledge crossword?

Well there are various things you should know about this genre of puzzle. The first is that art and literature, geography and history are generally over-represented as clue types, whilst science is very under-represented. Therefore you should gen up on your literature and history in preference to your science.

This is probably because most general knowledge crosswords are compiled by those with an arts background rather than those with a science background, and people tend to stick to the areas they know when writing clues, understandably.

Likewise, most general knowledge setters are older rather than younger, so references to entertainment such as TV shows, films and music, often focuses around the 1920s through to the 1970s, so if you are a younger person then you might want to study the classics from that era, rather than more modern stuff, which is very rarely referenced. Some setters never reference living people, so therefore it is better to look to what happened yesteryear than spend too long boning up on what is going on today.

The other important thing to note about general knowledge crosswords is that many newspapers use the same setter week in, week out for their puzzles. Therefore you will get to know their own biases and areas of interest / knowledge, and note that these crop up much more regularly than other areas. Therefore if your interest is in solving the puzzle fully every time, then you might want to use this as the basis of the research you do between solving puzzles.

All of the above said, one of the great benefits of general knowledge crosswords is learning new things. Therefore don't feel too guilty about looking up answers that you don't know, but do try to learn what you have just found out rather than forgetting it as soon as you have inked in the last letter. Besides, particularly when writing clues on areas outside of their own interests, many general knowledge setters really have little idea how obscure the fact they are using is, and therefore how likely the general audience is to know it. This is particularly pertinent advice in the area of clues relating to science: a setter will sometimes use a basically unknown name from the scientific literature next to a very well-known person, often without realising that one is to all intents and purposes ungettable whilst the other is very easy for someone with a soupcon of scientific knowledge.

Do you have any general knowledge solving tips for us? Please do share below if so!
Date written: 20 Mar 2015

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