Quiz: 13 “University Challenge” Questions That You Probably Can’t Answer

Anyone who wants to feel good about themselves probably shouldn’t attempt this quiz.

1. Last night’s episode of University Challenge proved once and for all that BuzzFeed has made it.

2. Not that the contestants had a clue. You tell ‘em, Paxo.


So to return the favour we thought we’d namecheck everyone’s favourite nearly impossible quiz, and let you test yourself against some actual University Challenge questions.

Good luck. You’ll need it.

  1. 1. Add together the number of letters in the surnames of the Prime Minister who came to office after the 1945 general election and his two successors. What prime number results?
  2. 2. When read aloud, the three words meaning "island whose capital is Douglas", "units of digital information" and "common name of Canis lupus familiaris" form what improbable three-word headline?
  3. 3. A state lottery draws three numbered balls from a selection of five. What is the probability of guessing all three winning numbers?
  4. 4. Name this prominent writer.
    1. John Steinbeck
    2. J.R.R. Tolkien
    3. Rudyard Kipling
  5. 5. The national flag of which Central American country is unusual, in that it depicts human beings. In this case, two woodcutters. It gained independence from the UK in 1981.
  6. 6. Which comedy by Shakespeare is the source of the opera by Berlioz entitled Beatrice and Benedict?
  7. 7. Which city was the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949 until the early 90s?
  8. 8. The following picture contains some of the most frequently occurring words in the works of an English poet. What poet?
    1. John Keats
    2. John Milton
    3. William Wordsworth
  9. 9. The Light Programme was the forerunner of which BBC radio channel, to which it changed its name on September 30, 1967?
    1. Radio 1.
    2. Radio 2.
    3. Radio 3.
  10. 10. A senator for 47 years, Edward Kennedy, who died in 2009, lost his only attempt to secure the Democratic presidential nomination against which opponent, who was also the incumbent president?
  11. 11. Which novel, first published in serial form from 1914 to 1915, begins “Once upon a time and a very good time it was…”?
  12. 12. “I am not going to take part in that process. I think that Mrs Thatcher will lead the Conservative Party into the next election and that she will win it.” Who voiced this support in October 1990, one month before announcing his own candidature
    1. John Major
    2. Michael Heseltine
    3. Michael Portillo
  13. 13. What surname links a bagpipe-playing Canterbury pilgrim in Chaucer; a Henry James novella of 1878; the author of the trilogy Sexus, Plexus and Nexus, and the playwright husband of Marilyn Monroe?

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Robin Edds is editor-at-large at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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