Sunday, June 23, 2013

Taking the MENSA test

Today is Sunday, June 23, 2013.

Yesterday I took the admission test for an organization called MENSA, the oldest "high-IQ society" in the world, founded in 1946.  The headquarters of MENSA International are in England.  There are over 110,000 MENSA members all over the world, and over 56,000 of these are members of American MENSA. There are 50 national MENSA organizations around the world.  The youngest member is just over 2 years old, and the oldest is 103. 

The founders of the organization hoped to create a society of intelligent people that was free from issues of politics, race, or religion.  According to the organization's constitution, MENSA's mission of is trifold: "to identify and to foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members."    MENSA is involved in programs for gifted children, literacy, and scholarships.  Local events may include speakers, field trips, leadership workshops, dances, children's events, or games, or they may simply consist of conversation over coffee.  Members may join Special Interest Groups that range from motorcycle enthusiasts to business.  Several countries have Annual Gatherings, and Regional Gatherings, and there have also been World Gatherings. 

I'm not sure exactly why I waited until now to try out for this organization.  As an educator, I know that a high IQ score is not a predictor of success in life.  Still, it might be nice to have a chance to get to know some people who are interested in some of the same things that I'm interested in, and who enjoy a good conversation on a variety of topics.  (High IQ is not necessarily a good indicator of conversational ability, either, I realize.)

Anyway, I went to the test, bruises and all (from a car accident I had in a rental vehicle while visiting friends in Miami).  I had a chiropractor appointment first, so had to wake up quite early, and didn't have much time to dawdle over coffee as I have become accustomed to doing.  In order to take the test, I had to have a check for $40 and a picture ID.  For some odd reason, I could not find my driver's license this morning, and almost panicked.  I decided that my passport would have to do, and thankfully, it was right where I thought it would be.  (Living in a foreign country for an extended period of time teaches one to have one's passport safe but handy at all times.  I'm so glad I got that lesson down pat.)

Knowing that it might be chilly in the public library, I grabbed what I thought was my black summer sweater, only to find out later that I had grabbed a pair of black culottes, instead.  As a result, I was a little chilly during the test, but at least I had been able to down some coffee. 

The information available about the test said it might take as much as 2.5 hours, but we were done inside of 2 hours.  The test was proctored by a local MENSA member who happens to be a high-school algebra teacher.  There were five candidates – two women and three men.  Believe it or not, I don't think I was the oldest, although I fully expected to be.  The other woman was a mother of three who helped her kids with math and "fell in love" with it, taking a course in calculus along with one of her kids.  I believe she hopes to teach math one day. 

In order to be invited to join MENSA I will have to be within the top 2% of those who take the test.  In other words, I will have to score in the 98th percentile.  If I had taken the Standford-Binet Intelligence Scales  (the most well-known IQ test), I would have to score at least 132.  For other IQ tests, the numerical score might be different, but the requirement is a score at the 98th percentile, which means that out of 100 people taking the test, you have the same or better score than 98 others.  The MENSA test may be taken only once, but if you don't make the cut, you an submit scores from one of several other "approved" tests to gain admission to MENSA.   There were two tests given yesterday, with a break in between.  A candidate only has to qualify on one of those tests.  I should know whether I am eligible to join within three weeks or so.  If I fail to qualify, I'm not sure if I will look up my old SAT scores or not - we'll see.  Fortunately for me, membership in an organization like MENSA is not a significant element of my sense of self-worth.  :-)

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