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Are TheJournal.ie writers smart enough for Mensa?

The high IQ society sets the membership bar high – time to see if we’re up to the task.

Source: Shutterstock

YESTERDAY THEJOURNAL.IE RAN a story on Ireland’s Mensa membership.

Attaining membership is famously tough, with the high IQ society catering for the top 2% of minds worldwide.

If you want to join, you’ll have to make an appointment with Mensa to sit one of their supervised exams.

But how would the mind of a lowly hack cope with one of these tests?

Well, we set about finding out by taking one of the trial exams available on the Mensa website. So, dear reader, does your correspondent have the mental capacity to join the ranks of the elite?

Read on to find out…

In the red corner…Mensa International

Aged 67, the worldwide high intelligence society has been providing a social outlet and intellectual workouts for brainboxes since just after the second world war.

Famous Irish people who have passed the test include Brendan O’Carroll, as well as international literary figures like Joyce Carol Oates and Isaac Asimov.

In the blue corner…Jack Horgan-Jones, Staff Writer, TheJournal.ie

Aged 27, Horgan-Jones’ glittering intellectual career to date takes in a whopping 400 point run at the Leaving Certificate in 2005.

Not previously noted for his puzzle solving ability, he has never finished a crossword, never taken an IQ test before, and was the victim of repeated bangs to the head as a child.

The test

The Mensa workout consists of 30 questions in 30 minutes. It doesn’t qualify you to join Mensa, but is recommended as practice for the test proper.

Question one

Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

Things start out easily enough. Maybe too easy. But with 30 questions to answer in half an hour, I don’t have time to second guess myself, so I choose what seems the obvious answer. Onwards…

Question two

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 12.55.46 Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

Once I saw this I started to develop a bit of a swagger. Two questions in, and I was confident that I had two right answers in the bag. I might go and make some tea. There’s no way I’ll need the full 30 minutes. In the bag.

What could go wrong?

Question three

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 12.56.34 Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org


Numbers. Patterns. Sequences. These are things that have never been my friends.

But wait! I could see a pattern! Things were falling into place! Confidently, I answered and moved on.

Wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Unknowingly, I had incurred my first incorrect answer.

Question five

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 12.57.30 Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

The fog surrounding me is absolute. Impenetrable.

Completely flummoxed by Sally, my journalistic reflexes kick in. Why won’t Sally tell me the information? What is she hiding? What are her motivations? Is there someone else I can ring who has the same information as Sally, but might tell me?

Do they owe me a favour?

Has Sally changed the password to her voicemail?

Fruitless – nonetheless, a guess isn’t a bad option here. A one in two chance of getting it right.

And still, I get it wrong.

Questions six, 22 and 26

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 12.58.50 Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

Screen shot 2014-06-22 at 13.14.03 Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

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Source: Screenshot/www.mensa.org

These answers spring straight into my head. Before I’ve finished reading the list of words, I know the answer.

In the midst of continuing numerical travails, these questions provide a much needed filup to my confidence.

Question seven

Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

Easy, I thought, moments before forgetting the alphabet when I tried to start from ‘J’.

Nonetheless, I regrouped, and with the aid of my fingers, nailed the answer.

Question eight

Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

What do you mean you’ve never heard of ‘Praateupch’, you ignoramus? It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

Question nine 

Source: screenshot/www.mensa.org

I spend a good 45 seconds of my allotted minute counting the shapes over and again. Finally, confident of my answer, I go to click ’14′.

The only problem being that 14 isn’t there. And I wasn’t even close with my guess.

The results are in

So, how did I do?

Well, I would like to say I did respectably, with a score of 73%. Out of the thirty questions, I got 22 right. There were a couple of lucky guesses, and predictably anything to do with numerical reasoning or patterns caused a problem.

That said, I won’t be getting into Mensa any time soon on these results.

How did you do? Let us know in the comments. 

Read: The Troubles, the parties and the loneliness of intelligence: Ireland’s Mensa story>

Poll: Do you think you could make it into Mensa?>

About the author:

Jack Horgan-Jones

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