LAST_UPDATESat, 25 Nov 2017 9am

Do You Have An IQ In The Top 2% Of The Population?

ACTRESS Natalie Portman, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, singer Madonna, former chairman of Ford Motor Company Donald Petersen, film director Quentin Tarantino, founder of anti-virus and software company McAfee Inc. John McAfee, and porn star Asia Carrera. These seven people all share something in common with one another. No, they are not part of the cast of a new reality TV show (although that actually might be interesting to watch!). The similar trait that connects them all together is that they all possess exceptionally high IQs.

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence. The average human has an IQ of 100 with 95% of the world population scoring between 70 and 130. On October 1st 1946, a non-profit organisation called Mensa was founded and entry was strictly for people who possess an IQ in the top 2% of the population. But how accurate are these IQ tests and do really represent a person’s intellectual ability? Malaysian Digest caught up with Jayaram Menon, fondly known as Jay, who is the Chairman of Mensa Malaysia, for his views on the subject.

A Measure Of Intelligence

Origins of the IQ test can be traced back to the early 20th century. A French psychologist who went by name of Alfred Binet created a simple test with the initial goal of identifying students who needed special help in coping with school curriculum. “Paradoxically, the starting of these kinds of tests was actually to spot weaknesses in students, and then figure out different methods to  teach them as compared to the normal students,” explains Jay, who is a retired semiconductor engineer from Penang.

Examples of two questions that you can find in the Ravens Advanced Matrices TestExamples of two questions that you can find in the Ravens Advanced Matrices Test

The IQ test then evolved throughout the following years and became a measure of finding out the general intelligence of people. “After many different types of tests, we (Mensa) now finally follow the Ravens Advanced Matrices Test, which is a culture free test. That means you can give this test to people anywhere around the world who basically know how to hold a pencil and how to follow some verbal instructions before the test. This test doesn’t have language or mathematics (questions),” Jay said before adding, “Over the 70 years that these test have been introduced into society, we have found that it is pretty consistent in being able to, among other things, find out the top few percent of intelligent people in society. This has been remarkably well correlated as a predictor in identifying one’s capability of deducing things even without data being given. That is how we define intelligence – what to do when you don’t have enough information.”

The Competitive Edge

But questions remain on how much the public recognise these tests as a measure of someone’s intellectual capabilities. As Jay points out, it seems that it is does get a stamp of approval where it matters. “We have found out that it is a very welcome qualification if you are applying for (study) scholarships overseas. There are so few international tests and many international universities do not recognise local exams. That is why there is always an entry test. But if you show that you are member of Mensa, then they will recognise that it is an international test, and that you belong in the top 2% of the population. They will definitely factor that in and it’ll give you an edge over other competitors.”

Jayaram Menon, fondly known as Jay, is the Chairman of Mensa Malaysia. //pic: huntnewsnetwork.blogspot.comJayaram Menon, fondly known as Jay, is the Chairman of Mensa Malaysia. //pic:

This advantage it seems might also translate well while seeking a job. “It depends. I know that some companies like Petronas for example, before they give the first interview to their candidates, they will ask them to sit for an IQ test, and only the top few, but not the top 2% because that is difficult to reach, but those who achieve around the top 10-20% of IQ scores will be called in for interviews. So it separates the people who are capable of, shall we say, thinking on a deductive basis -- on how to infer things.”

Identifying Potential

But Jay insists that his ambition for Mensa in Malaysia goes far deeper than simply applying for a scholarship. “In our schools, there are many students that are not doing well. In urban poor schools and in rural schools, if you do not have active parents then it is very difficult for the child to compete. They will not recognise the value of these things in later life. Also sometimes they don’t like the subjects being taught in such a rigid manner and therefore they will not do well.”

He points out that usually when a child doesn’t do well in the early stages of school; both parents and teachers will usual perceive that the child is perhaps not so clever. “Therefore the kids themselves will think that they are not so clever. This will result in them not being ambitious. This is a big tragedy. My view is that every student that is not doing well should do some kind of test, not necessarily an IQ test, there are other types of tests too which are internationally recognised. Then we can spot those who are actually intelligent despite them not doing well in exams.”

It is actually a fact that good grades, especially for our school based exams, is not a measure of intelligence.

IQ Is Not A Golden Ticket

“What the IQ test does, is not to say if you don’t do well in an IQ test then you are hopeless. This is totally wrong. It simply means that your skills can be better applied in some other area. And there are plenty of other areas where it is not that critical to have a high IQ. Even the smartest fellas if they don’t apply themselves well, they’re useless” Jay stressed.

Being a member of Mensa, as he pointed out, is not a free pass to get a job or scholarships. There are plenty of other factors that should be taken into consideration. It just gives a slight advantage.

There’s quite an amusing quote on the internet that goes “Intelligence is like underwear. It is important that you have it, but not necessary that you show it off.”

Coincidentally, tomorrow (Saturday), Mensa Malaysia will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. Having passed the Ravens Advanced Matrices Test myself back in 2006, I never got around in becoming an official member. Well maybe it’s time that I did!

*more information about Mensa can be obtained by visiting their website or by emailing Mr. Jayaram himself at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



- mD