- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

FREDERICK, Md. Eleven of the region's brightest minds were in Frederick, Md., yesterday to burn their brains on an IQ test offered by Mensa, the world's most brilliant citizen's club, and makers of the world's toughest exams.
Given as part of Mensa's national search for new members, yesterday's test at Hood College was full of geometry puzzlers and quick-thinking problems that kept the test-takers on the edge of their seats.
Try this one, for example: In the foot race, Alice was not first. Betty beat Alice. Alice beat Carol. Carol beat Dee. Edith came in after Carol and Dee. Who came in last?
If you said Carol, don't quit your day job. But if you said Edith and you flip hamburgers for a living, you just may have missed your calling.
Besides their notorious reputation for being a bit eccentric at parties, Mensa's members all have one thing in common: They've scored in the top 2 percent on standardized intelligence tests accepted by the club.
"Mensa is mainly a social group," said Carol Martinez, a coordinator for Maryland Mensa, who proctored yesterday's test. "But mentally we're obviously different because we're all at the top of the intelligence scale."
One of the younger test takers yesterday was Beth Lamm, 17, a senior at Bishop Walsh Middle-High School, a private parochial school in Cumberland, Md.
Having a high intelligence is something between a gift and a curse, said Beth, who took the test to prove she's smart enough for Mensa.
"When teachers in school have to go over things again and again because someone doesn't get it, it annoys me because it slows me down," she said. "Ever since I was a little. I always got good grades in school. The work just came easy to me."
Beth wants to study veterinary medicine. She said she scored a 1210 on the SAT and has sent out applications to the likes of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, and Virginia Tech, among others. If her scores from yesterday turn out high enough, she'll join the ranks of the world's brainiest people.
Many members of Mensa among other things speak at least two languages, love science fiction movies, enjoy astronomy and are fanatic about crossword puzzles, according to a questionnaire circulated within the club last year.
If Beth gets in, she'll be in the brilliant company of such IQ wizards as Marilyn Vos Savant, who's listed in the Guinness Hall of Fame for her 228 IQ and spends her deep-thinking days writing a weekly column in Parade magazine, "Ask Marilyn!"
Perhaps the most well known Mensan is Lisa Simpson, a fictional child prodigy and sister to Bart Simpson on Fox Television's cartoon sitcom "The Simpsons."
Mensa was founded in Great Britain in 1946 and has since grown into a society of more than 100,000. The word, in Latin, means mind, table, and month, which suggests a monthly meeting of great minds around a table.
Yesterday's test was one of 200 nationwide as part of a national testing day. Aspiring members paid $30 to take the test, and only those who score high enough proving an IQ of 132 or more will be offered a membership.
"Really, if you're willing to put down the money and come take the test, you probably know you've got a good chance of getting in," said Debbie WIlliams, the treasurer of Maryland Mensa.
"I feel confident I got all the ones I answered right," said John Compton, 42, who drove to Frederick from Richmond. He said he took the test because he wants and deserves to be a Mensan.
"I realized I was smart when my mother refused to tell me my IQ when I was in the fifth grade so I wouldn't get a swelled head," said Mr. Crompton, who designs software for a living. "I've taken multiple tests of this nature and scored extremely high. On a timed Internet IQ test last year, I scored a 168."

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