This slim book contains 8 practice tests, consisting of 40 questions each, with answers included. You are asked to allot yourself 90 minutes per test. The questions are difficult. You’ll have to immerse yourself in the problems in order to finish each test on time. The book will likely leave you with a feeling of having stretched your mind, and it will give you an impetus to really concentrate on something while you try to figure out what figure comes next in a series, or what letters have to go in the blanks to form a synonym for “autochthonous.” So taking these tests can provide a refreshing relief from distraction.
But I’m not sure that these tests are really representative of what you’ll find, for example, on the actual I.Q. test used to qualify you to join MENSA. I paid for and took the practice MENSA test online, and it tended to present much less knotty, obscure posers than you’ll find here. The MENSA pre-test was weighted more towards requiring an ability to recognize the orientation of simple shapes.
The brief introduction to this book does acknowledge that there are different versions of standard I.Q. tests. The Stanford-Binet emphasizes verbal ability; the Wechsler has separate sections for verbal and spatial abilities. The tests in this book intersperse vocabulary questions with numeric and spatial progressions. The latter tend to be frustratingly elaborate, while the vocabulary questions seem to have a definite cultural bias. You’ll do well on the vocabulary questions if you’re an educated Victorian English gentleman. Do you know the definitions of such arcana as barouche, farandole, jabot, pomander? If not, like so many of the immigrants coming through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s, you might find yourself being falsely classified as an idiot.
Nevertheless, your score will likely improve dramatically as you move through these tests and learn the little tricks of approach to the problems. Your score will likely increase more than the 6 points the authors think that you’ll be able to eke out with practice. But even if the 8th test finds you as puzzled by it all as when you started – you’ll probably enjoy the challenge.