Wednesday, April 10, 2013

IQ tests – the ultimate mind games

A few weeks ago I clicked on one of those ads for an online IQ test.  I’m not sure why, since I’m not a competitive person – even against a faceless, nameless, lifeless quiz – but something struck my fancy and away I clicked.

The first couple were easy find-the-number-pattern type of questions, so easy, in fact, that I snickered and convinced myself I must certainly be a certified genius by that test’s standards. Then the questions got a little harder, and I had to think about the answers for a few seconds. The majority were math based, or maybe engineering based. Actually, I’m not sure what discipline they fell into, but I do know hardly any dealt with words and vocabulary (which I used to ace back in the day).

Halfway through the assessment, the difficulty quotient jumped even higher, and on it went until I actually skipped a few. Then my sister called and I blabbed to her for about 20 minutes. By the time I got back to the test (which for some reason I still wanted to complete), I was selecting answers by the eenie-meenie-minie-mo method and wondering what kind of sadistic bastard could have devised such a torturous series of “brain teases” for his or her fellow humans.  (Personally, I think it was a man. Just my opinion.)

After that, a smart person probably wouldn’t have clicked on the “score” link, but I did, which confirmed that I am, in fact, not that smart. In fact, my score was so low, it’s a wonder I can talk and chew gum simultaneously. (Hmmm….now that I think about it, I really can’t talk and chew gum simultaneously.)

Anyway, the point is, even though I knew I wasn’t doing well, I had felt a compulsion to see my score. Then I moped around for a few days, convinced that I’d passed on sub-standard intelligence genes to my two sons, and agonizing for the future of my family’s blood line.

I’m over it now (sort of), after reading that the test was timed, and taking longer than x-number of minutes would lower the score, but damned if I don’t want to go back and retake it to prove that I’m at least of average intelligence! Why? Why am I torturing myself? 

I haven’t figured out that answer, but I did a little research into these online IQ tests and was intrigued to find whole sites devoted to games. I took a little side trip to one where you have to light a path from a battery to a light bulb. That was fun, sort of, but after advancing a few levels (and finding harder and harder games), I X’d out of it.

Then I found the ultimate site for mind-gaming:  American Mensa’s Virtual Game Room. (Click here to check it out!)

Despite some easy sounding names, my first inclination was to back away from the game, slowly. I mean, if I'd failed this basic online IQ test, what would happen to me on the Mensa site? But then that inner demon took hold, and away I clicked.  I selected something called “Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters,” which is very much like the old Wheel of Fortune TV show – you know, with Vanna White.

I was nervous but told myself this game was more up my alley – it had letters, words and phrases, the stock of my trade! And once I got the hang of how it was played (and listened to a few of Pat’s tips for first-timers), I started to score fairly well. I even wagered my entire winnings on one of the bonus rounds. For me, that’s huge. I don’t wager. Ever. But I looked at the clue, looked at the possible answers, and it was a no brainer!

A few minutes later, I was in the lightning round, starting to sweat and wondering when I’d turned into this creature who wanted to spin the dial. Would I bomb, like the blankety-blank IQ test, or would my love of letters and words come through for me?

And joy of joys, I won! I won I won I won I won I won!

I even took a snapshot of the winning screen to prove to myself I wasn’t hallucinating. See?  Here it is!

But am I going back for round two? Hell, no. I’m done. I’ll quit while I’m ahead, forever a winner of Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters on none other than I may never take another IQ test again.

How about you? Do you love mental challenges? If so, you might want to check out Mensa’s annual “Mind Games” event taking place April 19-21 at the St. Louis Airport Marriott. Volunteer gamers will gather for an “intensive weekend of play” (according to the website) for the ultimate purpose of judging and scoring games. The top five are honored with Mensa’s Select Seal.  Want to learn more? Click here.

As for me, I'm off to take a nap.

Happy mind games!

Leah writes stories of romance and suspense, and the enduring power of love. She blogs monthly here with her friends at Words, Women, Wisdom about mind games. Her latest story, Christmas Dance, explores the mysteries of love, marriage and parenthood.

Visit Leah at


  1. "Ultimate Mind Games" is right! Not because of the way they test and stretch our brains, but because, as you experienced, we will then define ourselves by the results--good or bad. I'm sorry you caught yourself in the emotional trap, even though it sounds like your brain was more sanguine about the whole thing. (Notice the cool 25 cent word? I'm a wordy nerd, too!) Thank goodness you quickly caught on and dove into the fun side of the whole thing. I'd have been totally put off by "Mensa" in the title, but you're brave like that. Thanks for the fun post and enjoy your new games. You're a sharp cookie, don't let anyone tell you otherwise, not even yourself!

    1. Very impressive vocabulary! :-) And thanks for the boost! I don't like puzzles in general, unless they're word games. I even avoid those little peg games that have at the tables in Cracker Barrel!

  2. That's hilarious, Leah! Sadly, I will not be attending the Mensa event in St. Louis. I've won so many times I'm not invited back. ;o) Okay, when I'm not reading your and Denise's fabulous books, I have to admit that my Kindle is full of logic puzzles. Sounds smart, right? In reality, well, don't call the Mensa Police to check up on me. Let me live in my little fantasy world.

    1. But I could see you (or your offspring) there, Sofie! Maybe next year. :-)

  3. I've been a victim to my own curiosity too many times to count. Boy, do I relate to this blog. Congrats on your 'genius'.