National Mensa Testing Day set in Dickinson

Have you ever wondered how your IQ compares to the general public? Put your brain to the test on Dickinson�s first-ever Mensa National Testing Day.

Mensa is the largest, oldest and most famous high-IQ society in the world. It is open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised intelligence test.

Mensa International area coordinator Greg Kontz, Dickinson, has scheduled a Mensa test beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18, at Fisher Industries. Ann Knudson, Mensa proctor from Bismarck, will administer the two-hour test.
Mensa International area coordinator Greg Kontz has arranged for a Mensa test to be held in Dickinson on Oct. 18.

Kontz said the Mensa test is a cognitive test, not an achievement test.

�You will not be asked who was president in 1839. You will not be asked to correctly spell long words or what the cube root of 729 is. It�s not a test on what you have learned or memorized. It�s a test on how you think,� he said.

Kontz said participants should expect questions regarding sequential logic in the form of numbers, words and geometric shapes.

�Mensa is looking for the upper two percent of individuals who score highest on the cognitive intelligence test,� he said.

Kontz, who works as Fisher Industries equipment information manager, joined Mensa 30 years ago in Bismarck.

�I got into it simply out of curiosity. I wanted to see if I could get in,� he said.

When he moved to Dickinson, he let his membership lapse because there wasn�t an active group.

�I activated a couple years ago, mostly because the kids moved away and the dogs died. It was time to do things again,� he said.

About a year ago, he met a truck driver who was a member. That conversation led to a dinner with several other people.

�I went out of curiosity. We sat around for three hours. It was great conversation,� he said.

Kontz and his wife later attended a gathering in Bismarck where he agreed to become an area coordinator. His first goal is to create a Mensa chapter in Dickinson.

He said people join for several reasons. They like to challenge themselves or they simply want to know.

�Some think it would look good on a resume or college application. Some would like to be able to socialize with like-minded people � the same reason you join a fraternal organization,� he said.

He said Mensa chapters have many special interest groups ranging from A-Z.

�There�s pretty much something for everybody. You can also access SIGs through the national group�s Web site,� he said.

The cost to take the test is $40. Several companies in the Dickinson area have agreed to subsidize employees� testing fees, he said.

He also is working with the Dickinson Public Schools and Dickinson Catholic Schools to identify gifted children who may be interested in taking the test.

There are over 10 scholarships available for the 14-19-year-olds.

�I would really appreciate filling at least those 10 spots. It�s not uncommon for gifted children to be hesitant to join gifted programs for fear of being labeled �uncool.� We should try to change that,� said Kontz.

Kontz said North Dakota has 12,000 potential members in North Dakota. Sixty-seven are registered with Mensa. There are 400 potential members in Dickinson � two are registered.

�In essence, I�m looking for 398. I think Dickinson could support a Mensa presence,� he said.

Depending on the interest, members may gather for meetings or a shared meal at a local restaurant. There could be planned discussions on topics of interest.

�I could teach people about racquetball. Everybody has something they probably are fairly good at,� he said. �By and large, the Mensas I�ve met are interested in a wide variety of things, they are not narrow-minded.�

Kontz said Mensa members are conservative and liberal, middle-income and wealthy.

�I�ve met truck drivers, nuns, computer programmers, sales people, farmers and ranchers,� he said.

�We hope to be able to get a youth group going � a lot depends on whether we get three Mensas in Dickinson or 5 or 10,� he said.

After you take the test, you will be notified by mail whether or not you have scored in the upper 2 percent. If you have, you are invited to join the state and national Mensa group. It costs $40 per year. You are not told what your score was, just whether it was in the upper 2 percent.

�Whether you pass or not, nobody else knows. If you qualify and join, your name shows up on membership rolls,� he said.

Kontz said Mensa started in 1946 in Great Britain. World-wide, there are 100,000 members. The United States has an enrollment of 50,000. It has spread to over 100 countries.

He said walk-ins to the test are certainly welcome, but RSVPs are appreciated.

�That way we can be sure Ann will bring enough test packets from Dickinson,� he said.

Linda Sailer
The Dickinson Press
Published Sunday, September 14, 2008