Friday, January 25, 2013

A Morsel of Mensa Measurement


For those of you who don't know, Mensa is an organization of individuals who score in the top 2% or 98th percentile of intelligence tests. Founded in 1946 in Great Britain in has 100,000 members worldwide and 57,000 members in the US.  If the IQ tests normative data were correct, there would be 6 million of the over 300 million people in the US eligible for membership in the US.  Their site says their membership ranges in age from 2 to 102 and includes actress Geena Davis, Dilbert creator Scott Adams, and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.


This month (January 2013) the US organization is letting individuals take the short form of their admission test online for free.  Out of curiosity I took the test.  They asked me for personal information like where I lived, my age, gender, and other demographic info.  Items include object rotation, word association, and math reasoning to make them as culturally and age unbiased as possible.  It has four sections and you're given 8 minutes for each section.  Another reason that they are doing this is to test out items for their comprehensive entrance examination  that people who want to join would have to pay to take.  

I scored 56 out of a possible 80 in the raw score which they estimate (I assume is a 95% confidence interval) would put me between the 62nd and 88th percentiles on their comprehensive exam which at best is 10% below Mensa's cutoff.  Of course I had the TV on in the background but I have no intention of taking the big Mensa test.  

With the right practice and coaching, I could conceivably beat the Mensa test just as Kaplan makes a lot of money off of SAT test takers trying to get into the Ivy League but why?  In my post My N Word I argued that those who are studious and intelligent who have been shunned sometimes create their own elite group in response to that shunning.  While it may be fine for Geena Davis, Scott Adams, and Isaac Asimov (I wonder how many times they took the test before they got in?) I believe that this is the wrong response.  I believe it is better to share it with the masses.  Former Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson is said to have an IQ in the Mensa range but is not listed as a member.

This January's opportunity to take their test is a chance to see behind the curtain. You can see how you measure up to the Mensans for free until January 31 here after that you will have to pay.  After you give them your information they will send you a key to login to the test and it may take a few hours before you receive the email with the key.



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