Some of these tips aren't exactly easy to accomplish and do require study while some are a bit on the humorous side but just as important nonetheless. I do offer a couple "lazy man's" solutions to learn some of the dryer material more quickly. Whether you want to win some cash playing Jeopardy online or show off in front of your friends I hope you will find these tips helpful.
Here we go!
1. Buy an almanac. Perhaps most important is to have access to the information you need.
2. Geography is very important! Even if the clue is not directly related to geography having knowledge of where places are relative to one another is invaluable in many categories. Plus sometimes it is fun to learn the names of weird places. For example the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei is Bandar Seri Begawan...try saying it. It's more fun than you think.
3. Poetry. One of evil Jeopardy categories. If you are like me you hate poetry but it shows up too much as a category to be ignored. To hell with reading the poems, just try to familiarize yourself with works of major English and American authors. Usually that's enough to get you through the category. Remember, when clue refers to poet Joyce Kilmer the answer is always, always, "Trees"...just something I've noticed over the years.
4. Learn phrase and word etymology. Believe it or not it is pretty fun to do! Etymology is basically the study of how words and phrases came into common use. For example, the word "salary" is used in contemporary language today because Roman Legions were often paid with salt. Thus it is derived from the Latin salarium, meaning a solders allotment of salt. It is also where we get the phrase "he is worth his salt". See how much we just learned on multiple topics!
5. Learn Greek and Latin roots to words to help you determine the correct answer. Often times I may not know the answer but you can often divine it from the wording of the clue. For example if a clue contains a term like litho (stone in Greek) you can probably bet the answer will have something to do with stone. I know that one doesn't sound to fun but you can find many lists that contain roots common in English that will speed up the process.
6. Breakthrough discoveries-this one is a bit of trick. There are plenty of clues about particular inventions and scientific advancements which almost always have the same answer. For example, whenever Penicillin is mentioned, you can bet Sir Alexander Fleming (its discoverer) is the answer because he really wasn't well known for anything else. A few other examples of this: Marie Curie=radium, Jonas Salk=polio vaccine, Clara Barton=Red Cross Founder, Norman Rockwell=Saturday Evening Post, Ansel Addams=Nature Photographer and so on. Once you have these people hardwired in your brain to their primary accomplishment life becomes a lot easier while playing.
7. Doth thou feareth the next tip? You should because it's our old buddy from high school William Shakespeare. "The Immortal Bard" is often a category straight up but learning his works is important because so many of the phrases from his plays are still commonly used. "The play is the thing", "something is rotten in the state of Denmark", "starcrossed lovers", etc. Knowing "Hamlet" well is essential. If you want to catch up quickly cheat and watch the movies or plays....you can find pretty much all of them on YouTube.
8. World leaders and U.S. Presidents past and present. Presidential trivia shows up A LOT! Familiarizing yourself with the dates of former President's terms can also be very valuable in other categories. Thankfully many websites and almanacs include short bios on all the Presidents which is usually enough to get you through the category.
9. Entertainment is major source material for the Jeopardy writers. Familiarizing yourself with Academy Award Winners, notable directors and actors always comes in handy. While you can absorb most of the more modern works pretty much through osmosis these days but brushing up on the classics starting with the sound picture era in the 1930s is advisable.
10. Art and Literature. I had to read enough of these in high school in college and I'm going back to torture my self again. I recommend cheating and watching the movie for purposes of Jeopardy. Truth told many classics like "Withering Heights" or "Frankenstein", and anything by Dickens are fantastic for their time but the themes of these works have been so borrowed through the decades by others that reading the original for the first time loses its luster.
As far as art goes I would also recommend finding a couple of art history documentaries on YouTube. Anything that gives a nice overview of the Greek and Roman period, Italian Renaissance, 19th century French movement, and Modern Era should pretty much do the trick.
It goes without saying but there is no short cut to getting good at Jeopardy! but I hope these basics will help players get a better to some degree.