At King William’s College on the Isle of Man, students would typically sit for a quiz (officially called the “General Knowledge Paper”) right before the Christmas holidays:
Up until 1999, pupils at King William’s College would sit the paper unseen on the last day of term before the Christmas holidays. The questions are very hard and often cryptic, and pupils got hardly any questions right first time: five percent was considered a good score! During the Christmas holidays, pupils tried to find the answers to the harder questions by consulting reference books or asking clever relatives. When they returned to school in the New Year, they took the test again, under exam conditions and without the aid of notes.
The quiz is now voluntary, but can be seen by anyone via publication in The Guardian. The quiz itself is incredibly (!!!) difficult and consists of 18 sets of 10 questions each, with each section on a particular theme. Part of the challenge is figuring out the theme of each section. For example, here’s section 6 from this year’s quiz:
1 What was updated by HG Wells?
2 What might be perceived as an apiary?
3 Which island is doubly recognised on 198?
4 Who left great designs in the Gulf and New South Wales?
5 Who, aided by wizardry, cuckolded his rival by impersonating him?
6 Who, being the son of Suzanne, changed his name through the benevolence of her friend Miguel?
7 What did hateful and rough weeds lose apart from beauty?
8 What was the native city of a unique pontiff?
9 What can be used instead of mahogany?
10 Who recruited Hare for Dad’s Army?