On the entrance exams at universities and colleges only questions from the general course of the secondary school can be asked.
They do it to ask for something to happen (a business deal, an exam) or to remember a close person who is dead.
People do not have to be a member of the church to do it and they do not have monthly contributions to the church.
When Russian people talk about movie theatres, they will usually say "cinema"; if they talk about "theatres", they mean live performances.
During Soviet times there was a well developed system of community work and in every group (class at school, department at work etc) would be also a person responsible for sport, education, political information of the group etc.
People that were doing community work were given benefits (free or discounted travel, ability to buy deficit goods, ability to receive a better apartment from the government for free etc) - remember, there was no private property until Perestroika, everything used to belong to the state, which was controlling distribution and would award the most active citizens.
Unfortunately the system of volunteering was broken with Perestroika but Russians still have that great community spirit (which sometimes goes to the lengths a westerner would consider as infringement). The power of an individual in Russia is much less than in the west and most deals are pushed through family, friends and acquaintances.
Their general knowledge is very good: they know a little bit about virtually everything.
At secondary schools, they study not only the history of Russia but also the world history, including American and European history.
At the same time the majority of Russians don't have what you call in the west "good manners". Russia is quite a tough country and Russians usually do not hesitate to say what they think in a way that doesn't leave room for any misunderstandings.
During the Soviet period having "good manners" was considered as a bourgeois survival. When they meet or phone each other, they seldom spend time on questions like "How are you? They are not rude, it's just a way of doing things. Russia has the highest educational level in the world (more than 40% of the total population have college or university degree).
One can still get a university education for free by passing the entrance tests (exams), but the universities have to decrease the number of students studying on a free basis because of poor state financing.