Here are responses to some frequently asked questions.
What is Mensa?
Mensa is ‘the’ high IQ society.
What does ‘Mensa’ mean?
It is not an acronym - it is Latin for ‘table’. It denotes a round table where all members are equal.
Is Mensa a charity?
No. It is a not-for-profit membership organisation.
What is its purpose?
Mensa is a society for like-minded people. Its aims are:
to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity
to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence
to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members
When was Mensa formed?
Mensa was formed in Oxford in 1946 by Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister and Dr Lance Ware, scientist and lawyer. The organisation later spread around the world.
How many members are there?
Mensa India has had more than 3000 persons who have qualified for Mensa membership. There are more than 110,000 world-wide.
Mensa is rather elitist, isn’t it?
No. Although membership is restricted to the top two per cent of the population by IQ, this means members come from all walks of life and backgrounds. They can be young or old, married, single, divorced, separated or widowed, and any race, creed, colour, social or educational background.
What are the benefits of membership of Mensa?
Some of the benefits include -
• Networking and social activities
• Special Interest Groups where members can pursue interests and hobbies
• National and international magazines.
• Local meetings
• Online social networking community with chat forums
• Weekend gatherings and conferences
• Lectures and seminars
• Mensa-branded products
Are all Mensans eggheads, nerds or geeks?
No. While a few members may fit the popular image, the majority of members are ordinary people. What they do generally have in common is enquiring minds and a potential to learn.
What is IQ?
IQ or Intelligence Quotient is an attempt to measure intelligence. This means many things to many people but generally the attribute of intelligence refers to quickness of mental apprehension (or mental agility). It is often confused with knowledge, wisdom, memory, or a myriad of other attributes and in general has a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used. IQ invariably refers to the attempt to quantify the attribute in its meaning of mental comprehension.
There are several scales with which IQ may be measured depending upon which testing mechanism is used. For this reason the most reliable and consistent value to be placed on IQ is that of the percentile. An IQ of 150 is a meaningless claim unless the testing mechanism is also cited, but an IQ in the 98th percentile (i.e. higher than 98 per cent of the population) has consistent meaning.
What is the pass score for Mensa?
You cannot pass or fail an IQ test – it is a measurement. Putting a number on IQ is not really helpful, as it depends on which particular test you took. There are many IQ tests available and their scoring scales vary – rather like comparing imperial and metric measurements. All Mensans are in the top two per cent by IQ whichever scale their intelligence was measured by as the Mensa Entrance Test gives a percentile score.
Does your IQ change as you get older?
Not generally. IQ tests are age adjusted, basically to take account of youth and inexperience (under 18) or age and diminishing speed. The reason is that, as we get older, diminishing speed and spatial awareness are balanced by having more knowledge and experience to draw on to solve problems.
Keeping your mind active as you grow older will help maintain your cognitive faculties, although of course degenerative brain conditions can affect this.
How much does a Mensa intelligence test cost?
A place at a Mensa Supervised intelligence test session costs Rs. 500.00 if conducted at regular Mensa test premises at a prescheduled, announced time. The cost for a specially scheduled test at premises of your choice would be quoted for on a case-to-case basis after assessment of the premises and the number of persons to be tested.
Do I have to take the test again if I leave and want to re-join?
No – just call the office and provide a copy of your result sheet or ask if a record exists with Mensa India. We can arrange to reinstate lapsed members.
What is the minimum age which the candidate must be to sit for the Mensa India test?
The minimum age is 14 years or older on the date of the test. However we do offer separate tests for applicants between the ages of 10 and 14 years in some places.
What preparation is needed for the test?
No syllabus or preparation is advised. Come as you are.
How soon can I reappear if I do not clear the test?
Your test score letter shall specifically mention if you may reappear again along with the process and date after which you may do so if you like.
What benefits do I get after joining Mensa?
Please see the section on membership benefits. Further to that, it would be useful to know that Mensa India is more of a do-it-yourself organisation so being involved in its activities and volunteering in organizing various programs or setting up things would have far more benefit far more than just being a card-carrying Mensan.
Is my membership transferable to another chapter in India?
Yes. Please see the section on transfers.
Is my membership transferable to another chapter abroad?
Yes. Please see the section on transfers.
How can I transfer my Indian Mensa membership to international chapter?
Firstly, you need to be a dues paid member to make this request. Next you contact the national office that shall authorise the transfer by independently providing your membership validity to the destination Mensa.
What do I bring along to the test?
Please look for specific instructions at the time of registration. However a typical list would include the following.
Dark pencils, eraser, pen and paper
Photo identification (Govt. Id and not school Id)
A photo of the aspirant and cash (no cheque)
The Test shall last less than an hour once it begins.
No syllabus or preparation is advised.
What does Mensa do?
Each chapter of Mensa is autonomous within the rules set by Mensa International and Mensa India. Most of the time, Mensans interact with each other in meetings and online and discuss topics of mutual concern. Mensans also form Special Interest Groups where those sharing specific interests can come together. This can include excursions, study tours, cooking sessions, eating out, photography - virtually anything that Mensans feel like doing. If you are looking for someone to help you kick-start your new venture, or someone to go zorbing with, chances are you will find a Mensan equally excited as you to associate with!
Apart from this, Mensa is also involved in social inclusion and upliftment. The Tribal Mensa Program of Mensa India (Pune) and the Underprivileged Gifted Child Identification & Nurturing Program, Dhruv, of Mensa India (Delhi) are two examples of such projects.
Mensa should be seen as a club for the brightest, instead of an organisation. Bearing this perspective, joining Mensa can be an exciting adventure or a waste of time - it all depends on the Mensan concerned.
Does Mensa do anything to support gifted children?
In addition to the normal membership benefits, young members may choose to join the Junior & Teen Special Interest Group (SIG) with a regular newsletter aimed at under 18s.
Where to appear for the test if I am not from a place where no chapter exists?
In case no chapter exists in your location, there is a required prepaid registration of at least 100 persons willing to take a test at a decided time and place. In such a case, an entrance test may be conducted after prior arrangements are suitably made. Please contact the Central Office regarding the same.
How many times can I take the test? What gap?
You can take the test again so long as your test score letter specifically mentions that you are re-invited to do so each time. If such is the case, the gap is usually one year.
Do you conduct any nurturing program for the members? If yes, then how can I join them?
Currently we do not conduct such programs for adult Mensans. For young Mensans in the 10-15 year-old age group, some chapters do have nurturing programs. To join them, enquire with your chapter head.
When is the next test and how can I register for it?
Generally each test date is decided locally and after one test is administered. The best way is to contact your nearest chapter and enquire regarding upcoming test dates and the registration procedure for the same.
Why are applicants allowed to give the entrance test and join Mensa only after 10 years of age in India when in other countries there are Mensans from age 4yrs and even 2½?
Children are highly sensitive; their performances are very changeable as per situation around and the rapport with tester. Intelligence tested at young age may not be always reliable and stable over years. Reliability of the test scores increases at the age around 8-10. Stability of IQ and percentile rank also is more at this age range. Correlation between intelligence tested at younger age and later age indicate the stability.
NOTE: High intelligence score means high IQ or Percentile Rank but low score does not always mean low IQ or Percentile Rank.
Marilyn –a leading psychologist :
Tests aren’t reliable before the age of 4 or so, and even afterward, they will tell you mainly what you already know—that your child is faster or slower than usual, or somewhere in between. (Plus, the best tests must be administered individually by a trained clinician, which is costly.) Intelligence can’t be measured like height or weight, so IQ numbers, at any age, will only label a child unnecessarily, sometimes harmfully. The tests are useful for certain applications but not as routine assessments of individuals, least of all small children.
The exact peak age of fluid intelligence or crystallized intelligence remains elusive. Cross-sectional studies usually show that especially fluid intelligence peaks at a relatively young age (often in the early adulthood) while longitudinal data mostly show that intelligence is stable until the mid adulthood or later. Subsequently, intelligence seems to decline slowly.
I score in top 2% upon Weschler’s Intelligence Test. Can I join Mensa Directly?
Administration and Interpretation of this test is the main concern. The norms used are important – test date, adapted version or original one, period of norms, the whole IQ considered? Hence our National Supervisory Psychologist needs the documents stating detailed report of the test, test date, administrator and his/her details, the answer-recording sheet, version of norms used etc. before the test score is found acceptable for Mensa India membership or not.
Can I get Mensa membership if I am tested and scored top 2% on any other IQ test?
Same as above.
What are the other tests scores on the basis of which I may join Mensa India? What are the tests and respective qualifying scores?
The tests will not be disclosed. Rather than the name of the test, the test version, adaptation, norms of the tests, re-norming, characteristics of the tests, authenticity of test and the agency who has worked on it, test administration, conditions of the testing, etc are important. They need to be verified by National Supervisory Psychologist.
What should I do if I think my child is exceptionally intelligent?
No need to confirm by testing or labeling. Give adequate exposure, without burdening the child, create interest in ‘learning’ the environment around, encourage to try his/her abilities, provide appropriate guidance wherever needed, meet experts in the field/s of interest. Let the child decide when, why, how to perform; but provide a conducive atmosphere.
Observe your child as closely as possible. Keep the observations well documented.
Observations will depend on the stage of development of the child. But roughly
Sensory sensitivity- all senses- visual observations, auditory perception (listening and recognising sounds and changes), tactile sensations, attention span, concentration, movement – gross motor, finger skills, body balance.
– understanding , expression, managing good and bad emotions.
– recognizing others, comfort with others (close relatives, friends, unknown persons), manners, attending to others.
Observations (keen, accurate, sequential) Creative thinking, reasoning, memory, decision making, problem solving
Give exposure for the above observations and in general listen to the child’s talk (psychological and direct).
Education (formal and informal- choice of the child)
Encourage to learn with due caution
Correspondence with models in the field
Practice (repeated exposure to reduce mistakes, find new solutions)
Guidance and Mentoring
Some related courses are -
Postal Course of Jnana Prabodhini’s Institute of Psychology: http://www.jpip.org/
1. Child and adolescent Psychology: enhancing potentials
2. P.G. Diploma. In School Psychology (Affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune Universtiy) 1 yr after Graduation
3. Education of the gifted: methods and strategies (Granted by UGC, Affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune Universtiy) 1 yr after Post Graduation