The FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions about Mensa
Compiled and Prepared by many different Mensa Local Groups, but with special thanks to Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa.
Q: WHAT IS MENSA?
A: Mensa is an international organization with only one requirement for membership — a score on a standardized I.Q. test higher than 98% of the general population.
A: American Mensa now has over 50,000 members; another 80,000 members belong to national Mensa’s in over 98 countries throughout the world.
A: Mensa has three major purposes: To identify and foster intelligence for the benefit of humanity; to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence; and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members.
A: Mensa members represent:
♦All ages from 4 to 94 …
♦Every educational level from preschoolers to high school dropouts to Ph.D.s …
♦All economic levels, from people on welfare to millionaires …
♦A broad range of occupations, including executives, factory workers, scientists, farmers, authors, engineers, lawyers, doctors, truck drivers, homemakers, teachers, computer programmers, secretaries, politicians, the military, actors, musicians and hundreds more.
A: Mensa is Latin for “table.” We are a round-table society that makes no distinctions as to race, color, creed, national origin, age, or economic, educational or social status. Only intelligence matters.
A: You will be assured of meeting others at your own intellectual level. In a world that is becoming more and more stratified and classified, and in which social and intellectual contacts are frequently limited to people with whom you work, to your neighbors and to the usual civic organizations, Mensa has a lot to offer. Most of all, it offers a challenge: Mensa dares you to use, exercise and, ultimately, expand your intellectual potential. The entire organization is structured for that purpose.
A: American Mensa has about 140 Local Groups located in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Chances are there’s a local group near you.
A: Most local groups hold regular meetings — at least one a month, as well as various other activities. (Many groups have meetings and activities more frequently, sometimes several times a week.) These activities allow members to become acquainted with each other; many friendships have developed as a result of Mensa. In addition, the groups publish newsletters, distributed monthly to their members, containing an activities calendar and other items of information and interest. The activities of each group are determined by its own members.
A: Meetings vary from a Board of Directors planning session to get togethers that feature speakers and/or free-for-all discussions. A speaker may be a noted authority on a subject or may be a member with knowledge to share.
A: Activities cover a wide range of interests from games nights (Scrabble®, chess, Boggle®, and fantasy role playing games are especially popular) to theme parties; from singles get-togethers to family outings; from luncheons or dinners to a night at the local pub; from theater and film parties and concerts to a night of playing records and dancing at a member’s house. When Mensans get together they usually have a good time.
A: There is an atmosphere of congeniality, intellectual stimulation, good humor and, perhaps most important, lively conversation. There is freedom to think and to express those thoughts. There’s always someone who will listen to, enhance and even challenge your ideas.
A: Unless there’s a specified theme at a particular meeting, pretty much the same things people everywhere talk about — current events, sports, sex, the future, music, politics, art, computers, the economy, kids, cars, values. It isn’t so much a question of “what.” It’s more a matter of “how.”
A: Mensa has hundreds of Special Interest Groups — (SIGs) — composed of members with personal or professional interests in common. SIGs are started and maintained by members and cover a vast range of topics. Many SIGs have newsletters of their own. If your special interest doesn’t have a SIG, it’s easy to start your own.
A: Mensa is governed by the American Mensa Committee (AMC) composed of elected and appointed volunteers. There is also a small paid administrative staff whose members — along with the officers — are always ready to assist the entire membership.
A: A national convention or Annual Gathering (AG) is held every June or July — in a different city each year — where over 1,000 members attend workshops, participate in seminars, attend social functions, renew old friendships and start new ones. The AG is a special, never to be forgotten experience.
Regional Gatherings (RGs) are held annually in various parts of the country with most of the excitement and activities (both intellectual and social) of the AG on a smaller scale.
The Mensa Annual Colloquium is sponsored by the Mensa Education and Research Foundation. It is designed to provide a stimulating intellectual forum where members may meet with experts to spend a few days discussing a chosen topic.
A: The Mensa Education and Research Foundation (MERF) sponsors the Mensa Scholarship Program (in which students nationwide compete for varying sums of money for their education), Awards for Excellence for short papers in the field of giftedness, the Mensa Meritorious Publication Award (with Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio) for a major work in the field of giftedness, Memorial Awards and donor programs.
The Gifted Children Program compiles and provides information that includes activities, both national and local, centered around gifted children.
A: The Mensa Bulletin, published ten times a year, is sent to members as part of their membership. It incorporates the International Journal, and these publications contain views and information about Mensa as well as contributions by Mensans on a wide variety of subjects.
Local newsletters are published by almost every local group, informing members of local activities and events and other items of interest.
Interloc (also published ten times annually) is free to officers and to other active members on request. It contains news and information about various society, administrative and internal matters.
The Mensa Research Journal, published periodically by MERF, reports on Mensa-supported research. It also publishes original articles in diverse fields of interest and is available for a subscription fee.
Isolated-M is a popular and informative newsletter published by the Isolated M SIG. It is sent to those members who are geographically isolated from a local group and is available to other members by subscription.
The Mensa Register, or other membership directory, published periodically, lists all the members and may include such information as geographic location, areas of expertise and/or interest and other professional and personal data.
A: Although hardly the primary reason for joining Mensa, membership does afford some special benefits such as S.I.G.H.T., which assists traveling Mensans, and group insurance programs.
A: We suggest you begin with a valid, at-home IQ test. Contact our Join Mensa Page. We’ll send you an IQ test you can take at home for $18. Upon receipt of your completed test, we will score it and notify you of the results. If the results indicate an IQ at or above the 95th percentile, you will be invited to take our supervised tests, which cost $30 and are administered by one of our proctors at a convenient location. Should your score on one of the proctored tests indicate your IQ to be in the top 2% you will be offered membership in the Society. Our tests, however, are not valid for persons under the age of 14. They can qualify for membership via alternate procedures for admission.
A: A score in the 98th percentile or higher on one of the many tests on our list of standardized IQ tests accepted. Any previously test from this list, administered in school, the armed forces, or by any licensed psychologist, is satisfactory evidence of qualification for membership. The test evaluation fee is $30.
A: You will be notified that your score is acceptable and, soon after payment of the membership dues, you will begin receiving the national Mensa Bulletin, a local newsletter and your membership card entitling you to participate in all Mensa activities and special benefits.
A: Current annual dues are:
- $ 79.00 – One year membership
- $ 53.00 – One year, second family membership (same address)
- $350.00 – Five year membership
- $215.00 – Three year membership
Part of your dues is returned to the local groups to provide a greater range of activities and benefits for the members on a local level. Mensa is a not-for-profit organization.
A: Only you can answer that. If what you’re looking for is intelligent conversation, stimulating people, interesting activities and an opportunity to expand your world, the answer is yes.
Remember, one out of every 50 people qualifies for Mensa (over 5 million in the United States). YOU could be that one.
Join us. We might be just what you’re looking for.
American Mensa Ltd.
1229 Corporate Drive West
Arlington, TX 76006-6103
(817) 649-5232 (FAX)
Changes last made on: January 15, 2003
by George Smiley
Reprinted from the newsletter of Mid-Hudson (NY) Mensa, Candace Cowan, editor27. You can take it to parties and win at Trivial Pursuit.
26. It can explain Saturday morning cartoons to you.
25. It makes a great doorstop.
24. It will never be depressed or sulk, unless it feels like it.
23. If you have bad taste, it has bad jokes.
22. If you have good taste, it can be muzzled.
21. It can always find a party on Friday nights.
20. If you’ve done something naughty, it will always be interested.
19. It won’t drink your liquor — unless you’re not looking.
18. It won’t shed if you shave it regularly.
17. It can insult bullies for you in an intellectual manner.
16. It can get the intellectual snot beat out of it by bullies.
15. It will answer to its name if you give it a yummy.
14. It can put all your personal records onto a floppy disk — then erase it.
13. It is clean, unless there’s something dirty around.
12. It can sit, roll over, and play dead (once again, a yummy is required).
11. It knows more sleazy places than a two-dollar hooker.
10. It will always do what you want it to, unless it doesn’t want to do it.
9. It can gossip for hours on end about people present, with a twinkle in its eye.
8. With enough yummies, it may be possible to train it not to tell puns. (Note: complex tricks such as this may require several boxes of yummies.)
7. It can draw a map on a cocktail napkin that can have you lost in less than 5 minutes.
6. If you spill your drink, it can lap it right up.
5. It can find a use for a Ginsu steak knife besides slicing open beer cans.
4. It can draw intelligent stick figures on your wall with crayons.
3. It’s easy to amuse — just give it a problem with no answer and leave it alone.
2. It can do your taxes — maybe not right, but it can do them.
And the Number 1 Reason to Have a Pet Mensan:
1. It can help you write nasty letters to people and editors using big words.