Mensa is a not-for-profit society that aims to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of our race. Membership is open to anybody, with one small stipulation — your IQ must be in the top two per cent of the general population. Last week, Lifehacker’s Chris Jager decided to flex his cerebral muscles by taking the official IQ test. He will not be joining Mensa.
To celebrate the home media release of Lucy, Universal Sony Pictures invited members of the media to partake in a Mensa-certified IQ test. This was carried out by Emma; a registered psychologist who facilitates all Mensa testing in Australia and ultimately decides who is accepted into the group.
The test consists of a multiple-choice questionnaire divided into five sections that target a specific area of thinking. The overlying aim is to receive a qualifying score at or above the 98th percentile (that is, a score in the range achieved by the top two per cent of the population.) Failure to qualify will result in your Mensa application being denied.
Unlike university entrance exams, there are no “second chances” at Mensa: with few exceptions, re-sitting the test is not permitted. If you fail to make the grade — even by a single percentage point — you are essentially barred from joining Mensa forever. Our advice is to stock up on brain food and get plenty of rest before you attempt to sit the test.
We were asked by Mensa not to give away specifics about the testing process, but if you’ve ever completed a generic online IQ test you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s involved. Many of the questions are diagram-based, or require you to identify the “odd one out” in a sequence of images.
There’s also a meaty maths component and an assessment of your vocabulary. (Your general knowledge on history, science, geography and culture is not assessed — sorry, trivia fans.) Overall, the test takes around 45 minutes.
As you would expect, there’s a strict time limit in place that forces participants to think as quickly as possible. Some sections require you to answer as many as 40 questions in under ten minutes; a feat that’s nigh-on impossible.
Instead of leaving part of the test blank, I employed a trusty exploit from my high school days — when time was nearly up, I simply filled out the remainder of the multiple choices at random. Personally, I think this application of logic deserved some extra IQ points.
Now before we continue, I’d like to point out that I underwent the IQ test with minimal sleep due to a furious snot-clogged toddler sharing my bed the night before. I also skipped breakfast that morning because that’s how I roll. Could it be that I was deliberately sabotaging myself as a defence mechanism? (If you’re reading, Emma, feel free to drop your psychoanalysis in the comments section below!)
In any event, I wasn’t feeling supremely confident when I sat down to take the test. A team of roving cameramen were also filming the process, which didn’t make for an ideal testing environment. It therefore came as a surprise when I aced every question and was accepted into Mensa. Nah, not really.
I did do pretty well though: my total IQ was 114, which is in the 83rd percentile of the population. I also managed to get a score of 124 for the Crystallized/Verbal section which puts me in the 95th percentile for that category. Not too shabby for a guy who basically eats cheeseburgers for a living.
If you’re interested in joining Mensa, you’ll need to take a supervised test, which is available in most major cities in Australia. There’s an administration fee of $60 and you’ll need to bring a form of photo ID. For more information, head to the Australian Mensa website.
Universal Sony Pictures also chose to film the IQ test. You can check it out below. (Best bit: When Mensa’s psychologist attempts to explain the “science” behind Lucy. Bless.)
This story has been updated from its original publication.