Page last updated at 15:51 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 16:51 UK

How clever are you?

Rio de Janeiro
Contrary to what many think, Rio de Janeiro is not the capital of Brazil

A two-year-old girl who can name 35 capital cities has become the youngest member to join high IQ society, Mensa.

Elise Tan Roberts, from Edmonton, north London, has an IQ of 156 and can recite the English alphabet, count to 10 in Spanish and name types of triangle.

Elise took the standard Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale test which showed she was in the top 0.2% in her age group in the UK.

Mensa has described the girl as an "exceptional child".

BBC News website readers have e-mailed their thoughts about children with unusual abilities and the difference between clever and intelligent.

We are having serious technical problems with the usual Have Your Say service which our engineers are working hard to try and fix.

In the meantime we are using the form on the right to ask for your comments. We will aim to publish as many of your views as we can.

We apologise for any inconvenience.


I am a member of Mensa (IQ 160). Being clever is not the same as being intelligent. Perhaps cleverness is the ability to use intelligence effectively. As a child, I was regarded as clever when now I see that I wasn't - I was just intelligent.

At school I was bored silly every day and found growing up a bad experience in so many ways. I come from what would these days be thought of as a dysfunctional background - not quite "Shameless" but not too far away.

There are people who are a lot less intelligent than I am that have made better use of their natural talents. They are the clever ones.
Manchester exile, Worcester

I don't think a high IQ is related to intelligence
Lucy, Cardiff

Depends on your definitions. I think of "high IQ" as various sorts of problem-solving abilities (sequences, visual-spatial etc) and "being clever" as not what you know but your capacity for learning and retaining knowledge. So having a high IQ is not the same as being clever, but this is my opinion.

My 5yr old did a "turn" at school today demonstrating the use of a number-line.

I was saying this morning "You're doing your turn today - 2+2=5, 9+9=136". He knew I was kidding, quick as a flash he said "Don't be silly Daddy it's 18" (he's been doing this for over 2 years now) - is that "high IQ" or "clever" - or both?
Mark Serlin, London

I became a member of Mensa when I was 16 (I'm now 20) and have an IQ of 151.

Though I am generally a high-achieving student, I don't believe that my IQ is particularly related to this. I'm doing a Language and Communication degree and, though rational thinking and logic are useful in my essays, my ability to fill in the missing number in a sequence (and so on) clearly does not help me much in my academic life.

I believe that intelligence is about a lot more than IQ, and that IQ tests are overrated and a rather arbitrary way of classifying people. I also don't understand why parents want to get their child's IQ tested at such a young age!
Lucy, Cardiff, UK

My daughter became a member of MENSA at the age of seven after an Educational Psychologist's assessment a year ago. We were told that was the earliest that you should have an assessment done, any earlier and it was difficult to produce an accurate IQ score.

Yes, having a high IQ does mean that you're clever but unfortunately it doesn't mean that you're going to do well at school. When you have an IQ of 150 it means that your brain works in a different way than someone with an average IQ and therefore you may need specialist teaching.
Susijen, Preston, England

My eldest son Clive learnt to read Ladybird books by the age of 3 years and 3 months. My second son Mark learnt at 3 years and 6 months and my third child Robyn, a girl, at 3 years and 8 months.

Their reading was tested using unseen texts and by attempting to trick them e.g., switching 'house' for 'horse.' They learnt to read in the course of a 10 minute session daily which managed to involve eating quite a lot of smarties (no pun intended).

They thoroughly enjoyed learning and reading although people I told of this at the time were convinced I must have tortured my children.
Alan Urdaibay, Paignton, UK

I know that my IQ, last time it was measured was equal to the UK Mensa entry requirement. I must say though that in my experience, most people with a high IQ tend to be a little unimaginative, they may do well solving certain kinds of problems but their mind needs the problem to be spelled out in an orderly way, in other words they are only at their best when there are others to create an orderly problem description.

My view of the IQ test is that it mainly measures one's ability to - well- to pass an IQ test and not much more. I've worked in software for decades and hired all sorts, my view on high IQ people stems from first-hand experience in a rich area filled with demanding problems.
Hugh, Birmingham, UK

Tim Nice but Dim
Tim was probably never going to make it into Mensa

I am a member of Mensa and have been since I was 15. I speak about 12 or 13 languages however cannot remember where I parked the car or other useful things. I know which mental skill I would rather have.


My friends often joke that I should have my membership revoked, which goes to show - logic, intelligence and 'cleverness' are all mutually independent.

My friend suggests I take photos on my mobile each time I park the car - now THAT'S intelligence.
Joanne, Dubai

I took the Mensa supervised test and got a score in the top 1% (137 SD16 or 155 SD15, I believe). I joined Mensa and it was a great ego boost. I have not been a member in good standing for many years as, like the 1,176,000 people in the UK who would be eligible to be members but don't join or take the test, I think it it a complete waste of my money.
Temple Martin, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland

When I was 18 my IQ was measured at 178, however this did not equate to academic success as I left school with two average A-levels.

All IQ measurement acheives is your ability to process logic.
Julian Wright, Portsmouth

I have been a member of Mensa for a considerable time. The reason I joined was that I hadn't had a University education but entered work on BR straight from Sixth Form and encountered too many people who considered the lack of a University education an indication that I was thick! I was actually pleasantly surprised to find I have an IQ of 155, something that I share with the Actress Sharon Stone.

It doesn't mean you are a genius, but it does show a sort of quick intelligence and the ability to assimilate new skills and techniques pretty quickly, at least in my case that is.
Martin Hollands, Aylesbury, England

Albert Einstein
The name Einstein has become synonymous with human genius

I will be 65 in May. In the 1960's I took the IQ tests devised by Eysenk in a book called "Know Your Own IQ". It told me that the scores for the different tests should not be more than about 20 different from each other.

I scored 129 on language tests and 189 on number tests. This convinced me that scores on IQ tests show an ability to do IQ tests and have very little to do with intelligence. Nothing that I have heard, read or seen since then has caused me to change my mind.
Michael Lynn, Borehamwood, Herts

My 4 year old son at 2 could recognise every car logo and every designer's logo in Vogue, as well as recognising many words after seeing them once. He's now at pre-school and reads very well.

My older son, who is now 17 was identified as gifted at 7 when we lived in the USA. He was part of a gifted programme and coped well academically but found it tough emotionally. He is now at a grammar school in Wallington and is expected to get all As at A'level, but no longer focuses on the purely academic. Like many boys of his age partying seems to be his priority!
Susan Haley, Croydon

I've been a member of Mensa since 1992 with an IQ of 157. The only comment that I would make is that a high IQ is a great advantage but no substitute for education (as I keep telling my children!)
Sandi Perrin, Glossop, Derbyshire

I was a member of Mensa for 2 years (IQ assessed at only 151), but frankly found it not very challenging or worthwhile.

My son at 24 months could read the alphabet and pronounce it alphabetically, and he read the Times at 3 years 9 months. Maths however was his strong point, and still is - he'll be taking his A level next month aged 15 years and 1 week.

I think he has a higher IQ than me, but have never assessed it formally. From my perspective parents who enter their children for Mensa tests, and / or exams, at a young age, do it for their own benefit and not for the child's. The whole point of having a gifted child is to nurture them, and their talents, to transition them to being a happy and intelligent adult.

Is having a high IQ the same as being clever? Probably not, but it does depend on how you define clever. There are eight types of intelligence and IQ (obviously!) assesses just one of them.
Alan Rogers, Canterbury, UK

I had an IQ of 160-odd when I was 5. I haven't been tested since, but I doubt its still that high. Your brain is not set in stone, it changes (IQ included) immensely over your lifetime according to how it is used. This is especially true in the years it grows most - early childhood and puberty.

Psychology is a vague subject. Terms like 'intelligence' don't have a definition, they end up being defined by the test. IQ is just a set of tests whose scores have SOME correlation with things like school grades, job earnings, etc. But its all just averages, and for quite a specific sort of ability.

Also, its no achievement being the youngest member of Mensa! The scores are age-adjusted. The tests are also wildly inaccurate on such young children, since they can hardly do normal reasoning tasks, and there is not a big enough database of two-year-olds' IQ scores to calculate an accurate average.

Joining Mensa is really just boasting about a test score, I don't think it should be applauded.
Richard, Oxford

I have two children who were both like this at age 2-ish and I never felt the slightest inclination to have them tested. They are well supported in their (state) school which does an excellent job of supporting very able children, and at ages 6 and 8 I feel this is enough. I don't want them growing up thinking they're in some way special, I want them to have a normal childhood and make the most of their potential. Pure IQ is overrated anyway - I have a tested IQ of 155, but I still need a plumber to sort out my drains and a skilled mechanic to service my car.
Jos Costello, Mildenhall



Print Sponsor



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific