The problem with answering this question is that it presupposes that I had an approach to learning general knowledge in the first place. I didn’t then, and I don’t now.
I was lucky in several ways. I was born with a natural curiosity, and the ability to get myself interested in almost anything once I learn a tiny bit about it. My memory for facts seems to be well above average as well. I’m not boasting about it, since I’ve done nothing to make it that way. I am a voracious reader, and that helps build up your store of knowledge. However there’s nothing which helps build up your store of quiz knowledge quite so much as playing in quizzes, and compiling your own quizzes. I play in 2 or 3 quizzes every week, and I compile a quiz once or twice every month.
Having said all that, there have been very odd occasions that I have set out to learn something general for a quiz. I remember once losing a quiz on some of the more obscure American state capital cities. Now I don’t often brood about losing a quiz – which happens more often than you might think – but on this occasion I was so annoyed with myself that I made a point of learning all of them.
When learning a Mastermind Specialist subject – and I’ve had to learn 6 of them in my time – I’m a devotee of the flashcard method. I pick my main source book, and read through it chapter by chapter. When I see a fact that I think could be made into a question, then I jot down a little asterisk by it. At the end of the chapter I turn each fact into a question on a card, with the answer on the other side. Then its all down to quickfire testing. Repetition, like it or not, is an aid to retention. Only for my Mastermind final did I try to learn stuff for General Knowledge. I reckoned that with my weak areas – eg fashion – food and drink - horticulture – I couldn’t possibly learn everything. What I could learn though were sitters – easy questions which I’d regret getting wrong.
Read page 3 of this interview to find out how to prepare for being quizzed on television: Page 3