Take The Mensa Test
March 18, 2002 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Take The Mensa Test [From BBC Radio 4's Today Programme]
posted by MiguelCardoso (43 comments total)
i was made fun of by mensa's scoring report.
posted by moz at 11:10 PM on March 18, 2002

I only got 20 out of 30, which was ok and apparently I have a good chance of passing a mensa test, but I left most of the word questions blank, and made dumb mistakes on the ones I got wrong.

I was never good at the word jumble in the newspaper.
posted by mathowie at 11:19 PM on March 18, 2002

err, 25...

i'm skeptical, though. i got a call with 2 minutes left, and i'm convinced i would have gotton parachute in that time. drat!
posted by carsonb at 11:21 PM on March 18, 2002

0 - 5 Stay in bed!
5 - 10 Do some homework.
18 - 20 You are of average intelligence.
20 - 25 You're a bit clever - ever thought about joining MENSA?
20 - 25 You're a Today listener.


Over 25, catch the typo.
posted by sylloge at 11:26 PM on March 18, 2002

20, in 20 minutes. I doubt I'd have done any better if I reread the ones I skipped, was awake, or had a pen and paper handy.
posted by tamim at 11:30 PM on March 18, 2002

26 in the full 30 minutes. Got the damn potato one wrong, the first one, and both the unscramble ones. Grr.
posted by dobbs at 11:35 PM on March 18, 2002

Some of these questions are ridiculous if they're supposed to "measure your intelligence" (which I have the impression the people at MENSA like to suggest). I got 22, but only because I know what kind of answers they typically want on these things, not because I tried to reason.
posted by dagny at 11:35 PM on March 18, 2002

Dagny: the test is offered for entertainment purposes only - it's not an IQ test nor is it accepted for Mensa membership. Here's the original Mensa Workout - with a disclaimer - on which the BBC version was very generously based.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:42 PM on March 18, 2002

29 in 17 minutes -- I didn't care to keep staring, boggled, at "insatiable". Also, I got 7 on a, well, not a guess, but an incorrect solution.

I seem to recall seeing a MENSA (or maybe just general IQ) thing once that focused just on the little abstract diagrams. Thing gave me a headache like you wouldn't believe. Nuprinville. This was a nice mix of things -- like M.C. said, entertainment purposes.
posted by cortex at 11:56 PM on March 18, 2002

29 of 30, from 11:14-11:34, yay me (sadly, have the one-hour E! block of Howard Stern on in the background, must have lost some IQ points from that alone)! :) And I call bullcrap on question 7: I assumed the algorithm was "every vowel worth 5", they figured it by syllable. Double-checked, either method works but gets distinguished only by the last one, so that question is a bust.

Actually, that's the real drawback of supposed IQ quizzes- and especially online ones- that besides being questionable measures of "intelligence" as opposed to cleverness or just a facility for quizzes, often the most difficult questions, those "next in a series" or "what do these have in common" type questions potentially have multiple solutions- something a skilled tester could account for, but a perl script never can.
posted by hincandenza at 12:02 AM on March 19, 2002

Bah, I always overthink these instead of seeing the obvious solution. I got 27, but with far more frustration than was necessary. ...so the sequence is the added value of the digits of the squares of the previous two... oh wait, it's just listing primes. *laugh*
posted by Nothing at 12:13 AM on March 19, 2002

...I assumed the algorithm was "every vowel worth 5", they figured it by syllable. Double-checked, either method works but gets distinguished only by the last one, so that question is a bust.

You might want to triple check that, Mr. Flaw-in-the-test:

jAnUAry = 20
mAy = 5

Unless the "y" counts sometimes, the 5-per-vowel theory has a problem.
posted by sylloge at 12:22 AM on March 19, 2002

See, my justification was "vowels worth five, except for 'u' which is worth 10." Which works, but struck me as being as dumb as it is even when I went with it.

What hincandenza said.
posted by cortex at 12:32 AM on March 19, 2002

I was robbed of one:

16. The same three-letter word can be placed in front of the following words to make a new word:


DAY. DAYlight, DAYbreak, DAYtime

Or alternatively (as I put) TEA TEAlight TEAbreak TEAtime. Or is teabreak too lower class for these people.

Otherwise 27. I'm going to try to memorise BANALITIES since it usually comes up.

IQ tests have this combined fascination and horror. Someone asked the most intelligent person I know (in the Mensa sense - good at quizzes and conundrums or possibly conundrae) was once asked whether he'd considered joining Mensa and the look of distaste on his face was priceless.
posted by Grangousier at 12:49 AM on March 19, 2002

25 out of 30, which is not too shabby. I call BS on the 'banalities' answer - it should be 'inlabisate,' a verb derived from the Latin transitive 'inlabisare.' Ultimately, the origin of the verb can be traced to the proto-Indo-European root 'inlabu' ('to create a new orifice').
posted by Stumpy McGee at 1:04 AM on March 19, 2002

27 out of 30, ten minutes. I've seen both the BANALITIES and PARACHUTE jumbles on IQ tests before. Stupid vowel questions, I was performing letter counting (A=1,B=2). That, the rectangle counting, and the stick pattern..
posted by patrickje at 1:17 AM on March 19, 2002

27. Bloody parachute...

Gangrousier: What the hell is a tealight?
posted by salmacis at 1:35 AM on March 19, 2002

You might want to triple check that, Mr. Flaw-in-the-test:

Wow, don't I have egg on my face!!! Well sort of; my flaw was of miscounting something, not of underlying thought process and therefore 'intelligence'. And what if I count January as 3 syllables, anyway (jan-war-y)? :) The weird part is, during the test I actually thought of the syllable thing but dismissed it immediately since I thought I had a winner in the vowel thing. That said, I suppose with a little more effort I could find an algorithm that did generate the existing values as well as a value of 5 for July, as a post-hoc justification of my answer- doesn't make me any less "wrong" on the test, but it underscores that what these test try to measure and what they do measure aren't necessarily the same. After all, the universe we live in doesn't always operate by Occam's law. For example, Relativity [on the face of it] seems far too complex a solution compared to Newton's more 'elegant' answers, yet only a fool would waste time arguing whether Einstein or Newton was more "intelligent".

Also: Stumpy McGee's answer for BANALITIES is far more interesting than the listed answer; shouldn't s/he get extra points for that? However, his/her knowledge of "inlabisate" is itself less an indication of pure intelligence than it is of its step-cousin, education; beyond a certain level of intelligence- which is basically obvious to the naked eye- all you're really measuring is environment or accomplishment, and not native intelligence.
posted by hincandenza at 1:56 AM on March 19, 2002

Salmacis: a tealight is a small candle - maybe, oh, an inch and a half in diameter and a little under an inch tall. I also entered "tea" for that one and ended up with 27 in 15 minutes. Stupid anagram questions.
posted by Monk at 2:13 AM on March 19, 2002

Pfufh pfufh.

Where was the answer that, I could have sworn, spelt out perfectly b-r-a-g-g-a-d-o-c-i-o. Hincandenza, spew forth a script to scramble those up for me.

disclaimer: I do not take these tests. I abhor them. The number/pattern questions cause my mind to wander. I'm either not Mensa material or my mind wanders.
posted by crasspastor at 2:17 AM on March 19, 2002

Tealight - small candle. For (random) example.

All right, "day"is a much more obvious and better example. I'm just sulking because the test didn't show me to be the smartest person in the entire world ever. That's the main reason I hate IQ tests, they plug straight into the petulant five-year-old that still lives within me.
posted by Grangousier at 2:18 AM on March 19, 2002

(I know, I shouldn't have swallowed a petulant five-year-old)
posted by Grangousier at 2:18 AM on March 19, 2002

I've never trusted these IQ tests ever since I heard Mohammed Ali failed one. What use is a intelligence measure that flunked the greatest?

OK, so I didn't do so well myself...
posted by zimbobzim at 2:55 AM on March 19, 2002

Finally, the missing link. What a field day for marketers when Mensa-backed registration forms take off -
Marital Status:
Please answer the following 20 questions in 20 minutes:
posted by Voyageman at 5:11 AM on March 19, 2002

20 out of 30, although I, too, used "tea" for answer 16.

posted by jpburns at 5:18 AM on March 19, 2002

sylloge writes:
0 - 5 Stay in bed!
5 - 10 Do some homework.
18 - 20 You are of average intelligence.
20 - 25 You're a bit clever - ever thought about joining MENSA?
20 - 25 You're a Today listener.
Over 25, catch the typo.
faulty parallelism (emphasized above).

grammatical snarking is definitely more fun than culturally-biased 'smartness' testing.
posted by mlang at 5:23 AM on March 19, 2002

29/30 in 15 mins or so - got done by the january/may/whatever month thing.

IQ test = how good are you at spotting patterns? Wasn't there something about spotting order in chaos discussed a little while back?

I think Ali was dyslexic, wasn't he? That would make the word bits of the IQ tests kinda hard..
posted by Mossy at 5:40 AM on March 19, 2002

Plus it depends where he received the test - when they were trying to draft him, perhaps? The first thing that an IQ test tests is how seriously you take IQ tests. If your reaction is "I'm not going to take any bullshit test" the chances are you won't score very highly.

I know that seems tautological, but it is an important reason why non-middle-class kids (particularly0 don't do very well at such tests.
posted by Grangousier at 5:58 AM on March 19, 2002

According to my secret intelligence test, I'm the Lord of the Uknown Land, Arcibishop of the Typo, Emperor of Pussy and employed at McDonald as assistant junior floor mopper :) but hey !
posted by elpapacito at 6:43 AM on March 19, 2002

19 / 30 in 25 mins...I am the weakest link.


; )
posted by dash_slot- at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2002

mlang, I think sylloge was referring to, "What happens if you fall between 10 and 18?"

I got 24, with a couple of dumb mistakes
posted by LuxFX at 7:13 AM on March 19, 2002

IQ tests are dangerous things. About five years ago, my then wife asked me what my IQ was, and I said I didn't have any idea, but then I was curious, so I looked around for some online IQ tests, and I took six or seven, and the results appeared to be normally distributed around a number about thirty points higher than my wife's. I reported this to her, and she just looked at me and said, "You know, you really should be making a lot more money."

Ever since then, I've been kind of wary.

Besides, when I click on this link, I can't see any of the diagrams, so the temptation to establish a meaningless statistic is easily mastered.
posted by anapestic at 7:17 AM on March 19, 2002

Pesty, you really should be making a lot more money.
posted by OneBallJay at 8:55 AM on March 19, 2002

mlang and LuxFX, I think sylloge was referring to the repeat of description between scores 20 - 25 and the lack of any score above 30 or between 10 and 18.
posted by goneill at 8:58 AM on March 19, 2002


It's not intelligence in most cases, so much as pattern matching and knowledge (and patience... I didn't time myself, but I let myself give up on some of the "tricky" ones after a little staring). A very smart but poorly educated person would bomb certain questions.
posted by Foosnark at 10:14 AM on March 19, 2002

OK I got 26, and I also am one of the few who entered Tea instead of Day.
posted by riffola at 10:43 AM on March 19, 2002

What are you people saying? That this test, which I thought I would use to justify my well honed sense of superiority, is just nonsense?

Damn. I guess I'll have to take this off my resume and put "Intramural team volleyball captain" back in.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:03 AM on March 19, 2002

It's amazing how obedient(and smart!)you all are. I did it with pen and paper and only gave up 50 minutes later, obtaining the desired 30. I refuse to subtract the extra 20 minutes as points, as my wife(26 in 25)suggested.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:08 AM on March 19, 2002

I scored a 26.... missed both the unscramblers on account of I was getting bored with the test and just wanted to get it over with. On the other hand, at least two of 'em that I got right were lucky guesses, so I s'pose it all works out.
posted by spilon at 12:39 PM on March 19, 2002

mlang, LuxFX and goneill: I was talking about the repeat of the "20 - 25" (to be honest, I didn't notice the 11-17 gap, so I'm not as smart/observant as I like to think (nice catch goniell and LuxFX) though the "-20" AND "20-" thing bugged me (there shouldn't be cusps in those sort of rankings).
posted by sylloge at 6:09 PM on March 19, 2002

You can call me Forrest.
posted by catatonic at 8:43 PM on March 19, 2002

26/30 and I also entered "tea" instead of "day." The bane of my existence is the little diagram things. I always did poorly on spatial relations segments of these types of tests, it ws the only area where I consistently tested well, well below average.

Meanwhile, Mensa? Self important blowhards whose company is not anywhere near worth the fees. Blech.
posted by Dreama at 9:04 PM on March 19, 2002

21 for me - if you count "tea" as a correct answer. The funny thing is that I actually thought of "day" but assumed that there might be an English bias to the test. Hence, tea.

On the whole, I was pleased with the test. More often than not, I get the impression that these are geared more toward mathmatics than they are toward verbal and spatial relation skills.

So now I feel all smrt and stuff.
posted by aladfar at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2002

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