Western New York Mensa

Lockport Union Sun & Journal Article

Mensa: How Smart Are You?

Lockport Union Sun & Journal
October 21, 2007
By Bill Wolcott

After 50 years, I have finally learned why I took Latin. It was to take a Mensa admission test at the Niagara Falls Public Library.

“Mensa” means table in Latin. I didn’t remember that, but it looked like it was one of the words I should have memorized when Father Linus Hennessy came down each row and asked the Bishop Timon freshmen a word from the vocabulary list. Get it wrong and get a slap in the face, get it right and be safe for another day.

The Franciscan from Ireland taught German in the same manner. So, if I learned any second language it was with a brogue.

Mensa is like a round table where smart people can enjoy the company of other smart people. It’s a prestigious organization. The members enjoy monthly social activities, play board games, go to movies, have pot luck dinners and even go ice fishing. The members pick what they want to do and the other members decide if they want to attend.

They could be invited to “Smarti Gras” in Florida or enjoy “MensaGumbo!” in New Orleans, according to the Mensa Bulletin, the Magazine of American Mensa.

It’s doubtful I’ll get to go. First, my sample magazine was from October 2004. More important, the failure rate is 98 percent. Or, the passing rate is 2 percent. I figured it out.

Yet, Western New York has 250 Mensa members and there are 50,000 nationwide. Considering you only have one chance to take the test, it’s a wonder that many people get in. It’s a one-shot deal.

Finding the testing room has always been a problem for me. The librarian at the main desk didn’t laugh when I asked for directions. She said she could see a glow of intelligence around my head.

The high forehead has fooled people for years.

About eight people took the test. I had time to count, but was concentrating on questions before I had to come up with answers. Some people turned away because they didn’t realize the test cost $40. The Mensa people also require a photo ID and your birthday. I remembered both and got in free as a member of the media.

Some people take the test just to see if they can pass. Others want to put Mensa member in their resume.

I did it because I was told to. My boss thought it would be fun.

It was, but after 90 minutes of thinking and using a No. 2 pencil, I felt I needed a cigarette. And I haven’t had a cigarette since Dec. 31, 1969.

The pace of the exam is what may throw people off. It goes in seven timed clips of about eight minutes each. I know that doesn’t add up to 90, but there are short breaks for instructions.

It really moves along quickly. It would be possible to answer all the questions if you are a whiz kid — or if you guess the remaining questions at the one-minute warning. That’s what I did. I think that’s what everyone did. They do not take away points for wrong answers.

I agreed not to divulge any of the questions. The same test will be given Nov. 24 at the Lockport library.

The tests are made up by Wonderlic Inc. and Mensa. Given enough time, most folks could probably figure out the math questions. However, there is not enough time. Also the ratios can take a little time: An apple is to a tree as a grape is to a vine.

I am proud to say, I think I got most of the vocabulary — not 98 percent, but 90 percent. That’s where the Latin came in handy — finally.

Perhaps where I stumbled most was on — I forget. It was a short-term memory thing. Before the test, Mensa reads a story. On the last section of the test, they ask questions about the story.

It was definitely discriminatory against seniors, but I’m not complaining. I was expecting a trick question and I fell into the trap, going too fast. I didn’t have time to erase the wrong answer, but let it ride.

“On the math, we could have used more time,” said Dick DiTullio, a former atheist who presents evidence of God. The Grand Island resident teaches and does public speaking. A Mensa membership might help him convince people of the compatibility between religion and science.

“Science is not atheistic,” he said.

A woman said she did not expect the Mensa exam to be composed of smaller timed tests. I didn’t expect to know any of the answers.

However, I’ll likely never know my score. In about two weeks, I’ll get a pass/fail grade in the mail. Mensa is not allowed to provide IQ scores because of privacy issues.

However, I’m assured my IQ is way up in the 60s or 70s.

Mensa sampler

Mensa Admission Tests are copyright protected and are not to be reproduced. This quiz is provided for entertainment purposes only. It is not an IQ test. This score will not qualify you for Mensa.

Mensa Fun Test

1. Sally likes 225 but not 224; she likes 900 but not 800; she likes 144 but not 145. Which does she like:

Answer. 1600 1700

2. If two typists can type two pages in two minutes, how many typists will it take to type 18 pages in six minutes?

Answer. 3 4 6 12 36

3. If it were two hours later, it would be half as long until midnight as it would be if it were an hour later. What time is it now?

Answer. 18:30 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:30

4. Which of the following proverbs is closest in meaning to the saying, “Birds of a feather, flock together."?


"One swallow doesn’t make a summer.”

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

"A man is known by the company he keeps.”

"Fine feathers make fine birds.”

"Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

5. What is the number that is one half of one quarter of one tenth of 400?

Answer. 2 5 8 10 40

6. If you count from 1 to 100, how many 7"s will you pass on the way?

Answer. 10 11 19 20 21

7. Each number shown below follows a certain rule. Figure out the rule and fill in the missing number.

January 20, April 10, May 5, November 15, July ?

Answer. A. 5 10 15 20 25

Take the test

WHEN: Nov. 24

WHERE: Lockport Library

COST: $40

CONTACT: Jaclyn McKewan, 630-1694.