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First Person: Mensa don't want me

I was sitting in the office sometime in June, watching the wind push my early twenties away, when an email appeared in my inbox: “Free Mensa test in Saskatoon.

I was sitting in the office sometime in June, watching the wind push my early twenties away, when an email appeared in my inbox: “Free Mensa test in Saskatoon.”

Mensa is a high-IQ society for people whose IQs are in the top two per cent of the population. It’s an organization Sharon Stone lied to say she was a part of. I figured why not take a shot.

To be honest, Saskatoon didn’t really seem to me to be a Mensa city. Mensa is Latin for table, as in a coming together of intelligent people to a table. I imagined a place with a Mensa chapter to have more marble or ivy, or more people with round glasses. Or less Boston Pizzas. 

The Saskatoon I’m familiar with is the Saskatoon Grandma used to call Hub City, like the curling rink.

“The curling rink knows what’s going on,” she’d say, as she poured salt in her coffee.

Saskatoon: a city with real prairie swagger, where folks with dust in their teeth and rot in their gut turn their GST returns into provincial revenue at the VLTs. 

I figured, bring it on Mensa Saskatoon.

The test wasn’t at some Mensa-sanctioned location with complimentary pens or anything. It was in the kitchen of the house of someone I’m to embarrassed to mention by name. He sat down at his table and pulled a test out of a briefcase. 

I’m usually pretty calm for these sorts of tests, and the stakes, I thought, couldn’t have been lower. 

But for some reason, my vision narrowed, my throat swelled, and some hairs turned white.

He asked for my name. I wrote it down.

“That was the test,” he said.

I swallowed my gum. 

He laughed.

“That’s an old joke my procter played on me.” 

I blew air through my nose like a laugh.

He started the timer. There were 50 questions, and something like 12 minutes, I don’t exactly remember.

The word definition questions were a breeze, I postulate.

But when I saw the number and logic questions, my heart murmured. And you weren’t allowed a calculator to be the holy water in this exorcism.

The timer counted down. Hopeless, I tried to stare at the numbers until they’d imprint into my retina, then tried shifting my eyes onto the small horizontal lines where answers went, hoping the right number would appear on the line while the others fell away like chaff from wheat. I stared at the numbers for as a long a time as when you get the effect when you repeat words over and over, until you realize how weird it is that our means of understanding reality are just, like, clicks, snorts, and schwas made by lips, teeth, lungs and tongues. The numbers on the page, little insect footprints, rearranged themselves into three messages:

“God has numbered the days of your safe idea of yourself, and brought them to an end.”

“Your intelligence has been weighed on the scales and found wanting.”

“Your kingdom has not been divided because you can’t divide by zero.”

I wasn’t high on drugs man. I was on a return trip from the deepest, darkest cave in my pituitary gland I called “Denial,” and exposed like a newborn into a world of light and colour I never knew existed. I was struck dumb with the thought: what if I’m not as smart as I thought I was? 

The timer buzzed. I handed in my half-completed test, crusted with a tear of some emotion I didn’t understand. Maybe if I was in the 98th percentile I would understand.

I asked him what the Saskatoon branch of Mensa did.

“Mostly get together and have beers and argue,” he said. “You think we’d be getting together to cure cancer, but no.”

His cat, whose name was pronounced hoʊmz/, ran into the yard. I sat in my car, forgetting where I was, remembering where I was, then sweated all the way home.

After I had forgotten about my religious experience, a few weeks later I got an email that struck me blind like Saul going to wherever he was going: 

Dear Joshua,

The results of your recent Mensa admission test have been scored and calculated. Your test result (Wonderlic) was 29/50, or at the 83th percentile.

Unfortunately, this score is below the 98th percentile, which is the minimum standard set by the Mensa International Constitution. We are unable to offer you membership in Mensa Canada at this time. 

As with any test, individual results can vary depending on your health and fitness at the time of the test. If you would like another opinion of your aptitude, the most reliable and accurate means of establishing your IQ is to be tested by a psychologist who is licensed by your provincial psychological association, and who is an accepted specialist in IQ testing. Mensa Canada will accept such test evidence provided it is approved by the Mensa National Supervising Psychologist.

Alternatively, you may try the Mensa admission test again, after at least one year passes since your first testing date. Thank you for your interest in Mensa.

Yours truly,


Like any millennial, I wasn’t going to take that as an answer. I took to the internet to justify my views. is the test, followed by to see the percentile.

Q1: Which of the five is least like the other four?






Snakes have no legs.

Q2: Which number…


Q5: Two coloured shapes form another coloured shape. Which coloured shape…


Q7: Which one of the five choices makes the best comparison? Finger is to Hand as Leaf is to:







Q13: If you rearrange the letters “LNGEDNA” you have the name of a(n):






Google: England

Q15: Which one of the following numbers…

Q17: Which number…

I pressed calculate and my computer froze. It came back to life, and I refreshed the page.

“You have an IQ of 74. “

“Show your friends how smart you are by placing an official badge on your blog, profile, or forums!”

I dropped from the 83rd percentile to the fourth percentile. 

“With an IQ of 74, you will be asked questions about things you were taught in physical science studies like which tool is best used for digging?





Resignation. Resignation is that emotion.