Best of unemployment - Day 4

by len

OR “American Mensa 4 - The Annihilation”

So last night, I took the Mensa admissions test.  It was, at times, both challenging and comical.  The test itself caught me a little off-guard - I haven’t taken formal intelligence tests since I was 5 or 6.  I didn’t realize how intimidating it is when the proctor tells you that you only have 4 minutes to finish 15 questions.  Here’s a rundown of the day’s events:

5:30 pm - I’m trying to find the Student Center East building on the UIC campus.  That’s where all this is going down.  As this happens, I’m wondering if this is how Mensa initially weeds out people - by making them successfully arrive at a confusing location.  It doesn’t help that there is no signage for the meeting at the designated location and that the information desk has no record of Mensa meeting there. (this will be important later).

6 pm - Since we’re meeting in the Student Center cafeteria, I decide to simply look for the most out-of-place person there - since that will probably be the test proctor.  But looking around, I get the feeling that I might be the most out of place person there.  Am I really this far removed from college?  I’m wearing a Browns hoodie, for chrissakes!  But I still feel old.  I find the proctor and a couple other 20-something Mensa hopefuls, and we make our way to a room upstairs.

6:15 pm - What the hell is this?  We’re being given a Wonderlic test!  Neat - I’ve never taken one of these.  FYI, a Wonderlic test is a brand of test that is often administered by companies to prospective employees to determine if they’ll be good fits for the company.  Similarly, the NFL administers Wonderlic tests to those entering the NFL draft.  I’m excited to be taking the same kind of test that Texans QB Vince Young somehow only scored a 1 on.

6:20 pm - Some of these questions are tricky, and they only get trickier.  A lot of word problems, “which of the following two proverbs mean the same thing” questions, word association and so forth.  I think I did pretty well.  You get like, 12 minutes or so to answer 50 questions.  Even the directions tell you you’re unlikely to get through all of them.  I think I got through 40, and I skipped around towards the end.  

6:35 pm - The proctor is now going over Mensa as an organization, specifically Chicago-Area Mensa.  I’m a little pissed because my brain is ready to work after that Wonderlic test, and now this guy is making me cool it down.  Anyway, as you may know, Mensa only takes people who represent the top 2% of the population (or more accurately, the population taking the test) on the Mensa admissions test or some other recognized intelligence test.  And they don’t give you your scores - you either get a letter saying you’re in or you’re out.  I cringe at the thought that I could finish in the 97th percentile and still not get in.  I’ve decided that, if I don’t get in, I will tell people I finished at the 97th percentile.

6:40 pm - We get a knock at the door.  It’s the building manager, and he knows we’re up there and that we don’t have a room reservation.  You see, the reason Mensa does testing there is because the proctor is a locksmith at UIC.  So he can just get into whatever room he wants whenever he wants.  But now we’re busted.  Our proctor talks really nervously and quickly all the time, so hearing him try to hash out a deal with the smooth, deliberate, building manager is entertaining.  But it works - we get to keep the room, but I think our proctor will be in big trouble later on.

6:45 pm - Oh shit.  He’s reading us a short story that will come into play later on.  My worst attribute throughout school was remembering what I’ve just read/heard.  I have an incredibly short attention span that borders on ADD.  I’m always looking around at things and forgetting what I’m hearing at the time. 

6:55 pm - Test 1 of 7.  The first three tests all involve word association, or more accurately, picture association.  The problem with these is that the pictures are small and hard to see.  For example, there’s a picture of a paintbrush that looks like a ballpoint pen.  There’s also a picture of something that looks like a machete.  And when you only get 4 minutes to answer 15 questions on each test, these get very tricky!  I remember one of the picture sets was a set of teeth, a cheese grater and a necktie - and you have to choose which of four other pictures goes together with them.

7:15 pm - Test 4 of 7 is about 5 or 6 minutes long.  You have to choose from different dispersions of coins that fit the criteria stated in the question - for example, the question will say:  4 coins, 70 cents.  You have 4 options to choose from that are listed in a coin dispersement table on the right-hand side.  So option U says 1 half-dollar, 1 dime, 2 nickels.  That’s 4 coins, 70 cents.  I’ll fill in U on my sheet.

(BTW, the Mensa Admissions Test is a SCANTRON test, so if you’ve had a longing to fill in the circles completely and not leave stray marks that began with the ACT/SAT/Iowa Tests, this is for you!!!)

7:30 - A vocab test.  The words are more difficult towards the end.  I remember what “ostensible” means, but the closest word to choose from is “actual”.  Ostensible doesn’t necessarily mean actual….I choose “available” as my answer.  I probably missed three or four here.

7:45 - Get out the scratch paper - it’s word problem time!  I actually enjoyed these, but I think I may have been tripped up by one or two.  You were given a circle of specific diameter that would serve as a flower bed.  And you were given the price of flowers.  You had to determine the price you’d have to pay for the number of flowers you would have to buy to fill the bed.  There may have been an additional logic component to a couple of these that I was moving too quickly to take into account.

8 pm - Uh oh.  Last test.  Remembering a story you heard over an hour ago.  I actually was very pleased with myself on this.  I won’t go into detail, but the story was a detailed description of a Greek ritual and how it has influenced modern writings.

8:15 pm - It’s all over.  I will now wait three weeks or so for a letter in the mail telling me I either got in or didn’t.  I told the proctor that the picture questions were pains in the ass because they’re so small that it’s hard to tell what they necessarily are.  He told me i can always come back and take the “culture-fair” test that doesn’t have any pictures.  I guess we’ll see if it comes to that.



  1. jorin Says:

    I hope you:

    (1) get into that 2%

    (2) get some sort of seal or Mensa-approved tag that we can add to all of your posts

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