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School gets record number into Mensa

By Anisa Kadri
BBC Asian Network

image copyrightThe Heathland School
image captionMore than 50 students have got into Mensa after taking a test for schools assessing their verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills

A school in London has succeeded in getting a record number of students into the high-IQ society Mensa in one go.

A total of 56 pupils at the Heathland School in Hounslow were invited to join the organisation, which is for people with an IQ in the top 2% of the population.

That's nearly half the number of children who were put forward to sit the test. Figures for the last five years show that on average, 27% of children who are entered by schools are invited to join Mensa.

More than 40 schools across the UK have entered children for Mensa membership so far this year.

On a recent inset day, a number of the new Mensa members volunteered to come in to school for a masterclass in chess. BBC Asian Network went along to speak to some of them.

image captionNauman Nadeem and Shah Shamshiri, both 12, have been accepted into Mensa

Twelve-year-old Nauman Nadeem was one of six to achieve the maximum score of 162. He said: "The Mensa test was OK. Some parts were harder than others but I think I did quite well.

"The questions were all about identifying patterns and trying to think logically. You had to pick the right answer.

"One of the questions that stuck out was one about a man who was being chased by lions and cannibals and he was also running out of water. You had to decide what happened to him."

Exclusive club

Once someone passes the test for Mensa, they are invited to join the society and pay to become a member.

Nauman hopes to study history at Oxford or Cambridge - but admits he isn't sure whether he wants to be a scientist or a historian. Others too have already started planning out their future.

Rani Agarwal, who's also 12, also got the maximum score and hopes to be a fashion journalist, while Zahra Turner-Yusuf would like to be a film director.

The Mensa test offered to schools takes into account a person's age when marking the multiple choice questions. Younger children get extra credit.

Confidence boost

The Heathland School says offering the test was all part of its "Most Able" programme, which provides support for its most academic children.

Head teacher Harinder Pattar said: "Getting into Mensa gives students at this comprehensive school the confidence that they can compete with children at grammar and private schools.

"It's something they can use for their university applications, and it's something we hope to offer to more children in the future. However, we need to make sure that the people we offer the Mensa test to are the right people for it."

Since 2011, Mensa has tested 7,476 pupils through the schools programme and 2,026 have been invited to join as a result. That means around 27% of candidates put forward have been invited to join the society. Around half of adults who apply to join Mensa get in.

Becoming a member means invitations to different events which range from intellectual and academic talks to paintballing and murder-mystery events.

image captionRani Agarwal and Zahra Turner-Yusuf say some parts of the Mensa test were hard

In a statement, a Mensa spokeswoman said: "In a school of 1,000 pupils you would expect, statistically, 20 to be eligible for Mensa - even more than that in selective schools or those noted for being more academic which attract a high ability intake."

British Mensa's gifted child consultant Lyn Kendall adds: "Children of exceptional ability have certain characteristics which are common among them.

"They learn very quickly. They ask questions which might be considered unusual for their age, they have a very good and sometimes unusual memory, for example, my son knew all the Mr Men books off by heart when he was three."

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