Sacramento Regional Mensa
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ About 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.
Q: HOW MANY PEOPLE BELONG TO MENSA?
A: American Mensa now has nearly 50,000 members; another 45,000 members belong to national Mensas in over 98 countries throughout the world.     Sacramento has approximately 500 members as of March 2004.
Q: WHAT IS MENSA'S PURPOSE?
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.
Q: WHAT ARE MENSA MEMBERS LIKE?
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.
Q: WHAT DOES "MENSA" MEAN?
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.
Q: WHAT CAN MENSA OFFER ME?
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.
Q: HOW IS MENSA ORGANIZED?
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.
Q: WHAT DO LOCAL GROUPS DO?
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.
Q: WHAT ARE THE MEETINGS LIKE?
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.
Q: WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE?
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 brunches to 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.
Q: WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT MENSANS MEETING?
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.
Q: WHAT DO MEMBERS TALK ABOUT?
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."
Q: HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER ANYONE SHARES MY INTERESTS?
A: Mensa has hundreds of SIGs -- Special Interest Groups -- 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.
Q: HOW IS MENSA ORGANIZED NATIONALLY?
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.
Q: ARE THERE NATIONAL ACTIVITIES?
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.
Q: WHAT ABOUT SPECIAL PROGRAMS?
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.
Q: DOES MENSA HAVE ITS OWN PUBLICATIONS?
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.
Q: ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR MEMBERS?
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.
Q: HOW CAN I BECOME A MEMBER?
A: We suggest you begin with a valid, at-home IQ test. Contact our membership coordinator. Our member coordinator schedules IQ tests each month. He/she will help you to get signed up to take the IQ test and may invite you to attend a local Mensa event in the meantime. You will be invited to take our supervised tests, which cost $25 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.
Q: WHAT ABOUT I.Q. TESTS TAKEN IN THE PAST?
A: A score in the 98th percentile or higher on one of many standardized IQ tests -- if approved by our Supervisory Psychologist -- previously administered in school, the armed forces, or by any licensed psychologist, is satisfactory evidence of qualification for membership.
Q: WHAT'S THE NEXT STEP?
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.
Q: WHAT ARE THE MEMBERSHIP DUES?
A: Current annual dues are $52. 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.
Q: IS MENSA FOR ME?
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
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Sacramento Area Mensa greatly acknowledges Greater Los Angeles Area Mensa for their graciously allowing the use of the information on this page.