The high-IQ society Mensa is encouraging locals to take its admission test on Saturday.

Mensa is a global organization. Its U.S. branch (American Mensa) has a membership of 50,000. The criteria for joining is impossibly simple: you must be an adroit test-taker with an IQ in the 98th percentile.

In other words, two percent of the population is Mensa material. This organization refuses more hopefuls than even Cal Tech and Harvard, the most exclusive universities in the country.

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If Mensa sounds like a pitiless, unsentimental bunch, that's because it often is, says Tim Dees, a longstanding member of the Columbia River chapter.

"The quality of the people that you meet - they're not always going to be pleasant," Dees admits. "But they're always going to be bright and they're always going to be interesting."

"It's a very diverse group. We have a lunch group that meets every week, and of that group, we've got a retired cop, two retired military NCOs, a nuclear physicist. And it's always changing."

Dees is a criminal justice tech consultant and prolific writer based in Kennewick. This weekend he'll be proctoring the exam, which is akin to "just about any of the standardized tests you took in high school. They'll be some math and word association."

Although stereotyped as rigid, Mensa exhibits a degree of flexibility. According to its website, many members join by "submitting evidence of scores from prior intelligence testing. We accept scores from approximately 150 different standardized intelligence tests."

Saturday's exam takes place at 2 p.m. at Wenatchee's NCW Library. Click here for information on how to register.

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Gallery Credit: Michelle Heart

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