General Knowledge: The Quiz

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post on general knowledge, looking at what a candidate to a conference interpreter training course might be expected to know. In that post, I promised to share with readers the questions asked at the aptitude tests held in June for the Master’s in Conference Interpreting at the University of La Laguna. Today, I’m going to keep that promise.

In total, about 50 different questions were asked over the course of the day that I was present at the aptitude tests (there were four days of testing in total – one on Tenerife and three in Madrid). I hesitated for a long time about whether I should publish all of the questions that were asked on that day, or just a selection. I finally decided on the latter approach, since it seemed to be closer to the actual test given on the day.

In the following quiz, you’ll see that there are two questions given for each language being tested. This is in keeping with the approach used at the aptitude tests: each student was asked only two questions for each passive language for which he or she was being examined. Candidates didn’t get 50 questions to show off their knowledge of the world with, but four, or at the most six.

Also, in the actual test, the questions were asked in the language being tested, and replies had to be given in that language as well. Here, I’ve translated them all into English, to give everybody a shot at them. (By the way, there were other languages tested on other days, but these were the only languages involved on the day that I was present.)

Time to take the test!


Who is the current Bundespräsident (not Bundeskanzler!) of Germany? How is the Bundespräsident elected?

What is celebrated on October 3rd in Germany? What does the date commemorate?


What do you think when you hear “Lorca”? (Note: there are two possible, completely unrelated answers to this question, and both are right.)

What can you tell me about the “Movimiento 15M”?


What happened on 25 April, 1974 in Portugal?

What were the results of the recent Portuguese elections?


Name any two newspapers published in France, and give me their general editorial line.

Name all the French overseas departments.


What are the BRICS countries and what unites them? How about the PIGS countries?

What’s the origin of the name “Tea Party” and what is the term used to refer to these days?


There you have it! Don’t worry about providing me with the answers in the comments section or anything like that, as this test is for readers’ personal edification only. I am pretty sure all of the correct answers can be found in Google without too much difficulty, although if anyone gets stuck on the Lorca one, let me know and I’ll be happy to explain.

My final holiday post is coming next week …

22 thoughts on “General Knowledge: The Quiz

  1. To tell you the truth, I would have flunked that test… 😦 I have some of the answers of course, but not always both. I have heard of a certain Frederico Garcia Lorca, but what’s the other one? And to tell you the truth, I don’t know who the current president of Germany is… and don’t really need to know either, given that he is never ever mentionned anywhere… And Lorca isn’t quoted very often either!

    But you are right: our professionnal life is a permanent quiz!
    (what’s the currency of Kirghizistan? What’s the capital of Mali? What does NAFTA stand for? What’s Siebenbürgen in languages other than German? (I just love the last one… !)

    • One quiz deserves another – and I’m pleased to say I would have passed yours, since I would have got 3 out of 4(no idea about kyrgyz currency, sorry 🙂 ).

      I’ll leave the Lorca question open for a while longer, in case anyone wants to take a stab at what the second answer might be …

      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

    • I think I forgot to mention in the post that almost all the questions here were answered correctly at the aptitude test – even the DOM one, which blew my mind.
      The idea is not to trip up candidates, but to allow them to show the panel that they have an interest in the world and know about their countries/languages.

      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  2. I think quizzes are not difficult per se. The thing is that the more languages you learn, the more facts and ideas you need to know, as every language is linked to a culture and every culture may have a clearly different point of view on a single matter.

    • Thanks for joining the discussion! You make a good point.

      I had a similar conversation recently, where we were talking about the unspoken part of a message (i.e. what might be meant but not explicitly said), and the point was made made that the better you know the culture behind a language, the more likely you will be to pick up that part of the message.

  3. Hi! Thank you for delighting us with your posts.

    I follow this blog because I really appreciate the usefulness of your experience as an interpreter. Actually I am an interpretation trainee and I am starting a master on Conference Interpretation in Paris next September. I am planning to create a blog to write about the master and the adventures of a wannabe interpreter in Paris. I will be glad to let you know when it is ready as I am still working on its format.


    • Sounds interesting! Let me know when you launch it. In the meantime, check out the blog Objectif: Interprete (on my blogroll) – might serve as inspiration!
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  4. Pingback: General Knowledge – How Much is Enough? « The Interpreter Diaries

  5. Haha! I was striken by the question about Lorca, because I live in that city! Is it very tough to pass the English & French exams?

    • Nice of you to join us, Victor! You obviously didn’t have any problem with the reply to that question, I see ;).

      You asked about the difficulty level of the language component of the aptitude test. It should be said that an interpreting course doesn’t teach languages per se, but rather the techniques of how to work with these languages as an interpreter. Applicants to an interpreting course are expected to already possess advanced knowledge of their languages – both the foreign languages they will work with (C) and their mother tongue (A).

      For more information about language proficiency for interpreters, please check out my three-part series on the topic: If you still have questions, please let me know!

      • Many thanks! Yes, I think I would be lucky if I were sked a question like that in an exam 🙂

        I already knew that in that kind of studies you deal with interpreting techniques instead of the skills to achieve language proficiency. By the way, I already read your ‘three-part series’, actually I am getting hooked on reading it! 😀

  6. What would all of us do without the brilliant tips you talk about on this web site? Who else has the perseverance to deal with critical topics with regard to common subscribers like me? I actually and my friends are very happy to have your site among the ones we usually visit for quiz. We hope you know how much we enjoy your working hard! Best wishes through us all.

  7. That would have been really tough especially for if I wrote it. The facts are really interesting and I think I’ll be back for more news after updating so that I can gain more knowledge about this.

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