In this article we will review the following:
- The Mensa IQ score you need to become a Mensa member.
- An explanation of how a Mensa IQ score compares to an average IQ.
- The official IQ tests – including Mensa tests – that qualify you for Mensa membership.
- Where to find practice IQ tests for Mensa.
- How to prepare for taking a Mensa qualifying IQ test to maximize your chances of success.
- What is Mensa.
An IQ in the top 2%
Getting into Mensa is NOT EASY. You have to score at or above the 98th percentile – the top 2% – on a standardized, professionally administered IQ test. This is typically a score of 130 or more. What does an IQ score of 130 mean?
The IQ score bell curve
With standardized IQ tests, IQ tests are designed so that their scores have a ‘bell curve’ distribution in the general population with an average of 100. This curve has a peak in the middle where most people score and tapering ends where only a small percentage of people score. In statistics this distribution of scores is called a bell curve or normal distribution – as shown below.
IQ bell curve
Standardized IQ tests are designed so that the exact average (mean) IQ score in the general population is 100. An ‘average IQ score’ or ‘normal IQ score’ can be defined as a score between 85 and 115. 68% of people score between 85 and 115.
The Mensa qualifying IQ score is a score that puts you in the top 2% of the population in a bell curve like this one. The Mensa qualifying score is 130 or higher, as shown below.
This table indicates how IQ levels can be classified.
How to test your IQ? Mensa accredited IQ Tests
Standardized IQ tests accepted for Mensa membership are administered by school districts (e.g. the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT)), private psychologists (see below), the military (e.g. Army GCT) and human resource departments (e.g. the Wonderlic). There are two broad types of intelligence test:
- ‘Full-scale’ IQ tests, made up of subtests for fluid intelligence (Gf) as well as vocabulary and general knowledge, visuo-spatial ability, short term memory, and processing speed. Sometimes quantitative/mathematical reasoning is also tested in ‘full scale’ tests. A popular example is the WAIS-IV IQ test.
- Culture-fair tests of fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is our ability to reason and problem solve, independently of familiarity, training and practice. These test a component of your intelligence called ‘fluid intelligence’. A popular example is the Raven Advanced Progressive Matrices test.
Mensa accepts scores from approximately 200 different standardized intelligence tests (click for qualifying test information here). Some are fluid intelligence tests. Some are full-scale tests.
The Mensa Admission Test
A cost-effective method of measuring your true IQ level is to take a Mensa supervised test - $40.00 in the US / £17.50 in the UK. This fee includes:
- A reserved place at the centre of your choice.
- The opportunity to take two IQ test papers. The Cattell III B and the Cattell Culture Fair III A.
- The marking of your IQ test papers and your results returned to you in confidence.
American Mensa offers two test batteries by Mensa proctors, that may qualify you for membership. The first includes both the Mensa Admission Test and the Mensa Wonderlic®; this is the battery of tests given most frequently. This is a full-scale IQ test. The second battery is a “culture fair” battery that includes the Cattell Culture Fair, the Nonverbal Reasoning Test and the SRA Pictorial Reasoning Test. This is primarily a fluid intelligence test. Mensa Supervised test sessions are held at centres throughout your home country. Click here for details from International Mensa. For those in the US click here. For those in the UK click here.
Mensa online practice IQ tests
The Mensa Workout
To get you limbered up, try the Mensa Workout. This quiz is not an official IQ test to qualify you for Mensa but gives you a good idea of the range of question types involved in official IQ testing. The questions on the “Mensa Workout” are biased towards people whose primary language is English. You have half an hour to answer 30 questions.
The Mensa Home Test
Alternatively you can take the online Mensa home test for $18. As explained by American Mensa:
The Mensa Home Test is a fun way to discover if you are Mensa material. While this timed test will not qualify you for membership, it does offer an equivalent score that correlates to your IQ range and provides a strong indication of your likelihood for success should you choose to take our admission test. For only $18, you can take the Mensa Home Test online now, and it will be scored immediately.
Other online practice tests
The GIQ Test
The GIQ test will give you a good standardized estimate of your ‘full scale’ IQ – combining fluid intelligence (non-verbal) and verbal problems. The fee is $10. According to the test-makers:
The GIQ Test is an online analog for the most common clinically proctored IQ tests. In our internal study, the GIQTest correlated within about 4% of an individual’s full scale score on a clinically proctored IQ test. The GIQTest’s sections are modeled after clinical IQ test sections.
The GIQ has the following features
- Time required: 25-45 minutes estimated. No time limit.
- Components of intelligence measured: full scale intelligence, ‘verbal’, ’spatial’ and ‘quantitative’ intelligence. Your performance sub-score on this test can substitute as a measure of your fluid intelligence.
- Culture fair IQ test? No. Vocabulary, similarities and arithmetic subtests are culture-dependent.
- Fee: $10
The IQ-Brain Tests
IQ-Brain.com offers 3 realistic fluid IQ tests based on Cattell, RPM and the Mensa-administered Figure Reasoning Test (FRT). The IQ score estimates are comparable what users have been able to achieve on proctor-administered tests. The tests have a similar number of questions and time pressure as both FRT and the Cattell culture fair IIIa tests which are often administered by Mensa to test fluid intelligence. This test-developer recruited a cohort of test takers from all walks of life, but more importantly several test takers who had taken a Mensa-administered IQ test.The test developer calibrated the test to ensure that the raw score required to achieve a passing score of 132 was in line with the Mensa threshold of difficulty. The test developer believes that if you can achieve an IQ score of 132 on his tests, that you stand a good chance of achieving a similar result with a Mensa-administered test. You can take this test to see if you reach this threshold score.
The cost of 1 test result is $9.00, 2 test results for $12.00 and 3 test results for $15.00. The tests measure IQs up to 148.
Getting into Mensa – training strategy
Your IQ level is not fixed genetically. Not only can you benefit from practice on IQ tests, but you can also increase your IQ. For a review of how to increase your IQ click here.
Getting into Mensa benefits greatly from the following plan:
- Schedule a month in advance a Mensa accredited full scale IQ test with a psychologist or educationalist or a standard Mensa Admission Test with your local Mensa organisation. Ensure that you establish that the test is ‘full scale’ – including verbal and quantitative problems.
- Take the Mensa workout (see above).
- Take the Mensa home test (see above).
- Take the GIQ test (see above).
- All these practice tests will give you a good estimate of your current full scale IQ level – the type that is tested on the standard Mensa Admission test.
- Leading up to your qualifying IQ test, commit to training your working memory capacity. Working memory capacity is your mental ‘workspace’. The larger the capacity, the more complex reasoning and problem solving you can do. There is a body of scientific evidence showing that working memory training can have widespread benefits for IQ and cognitive performance (review or journal article). Thei3 Mindware brain training app has been designed to expand working memory capacity and increase IQ level by 10-20 points. There is a money-back guarantee if you do not attain this IQ gain based on standardized IQ tests before and after training. IQ level is not fixed, and can be improved with training long term.
- Leading up to your qualifying IQ test, commit to practicing full scale IQ test problems. The i3 Mindware brain training app has been designed to systematically give users practice on full scale IQ test problems. It is known that this practice can substantially improve scores on full scale tests.
- As in the fluid intelligence only strategy, there are other lifestyle practices you can adopt over this period to increase your IQ. These include regular exercise, a brain-optimizing diet and unbroken, regular sleep.
- After completing the i3 Mindware training program, allow for at least two days before taking the qualifying IQ test.
- Take the official test.
- Join Mensa!
What is Mensa?
Founded in 1946 by Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister, and Dr. Lancelot Ware, a British scientist and lawyer (the same year that ENIAC, US 1st computer is finished by Mauchly/Eckert), Mensa is a high IQ society – the only qualification for membership being an IQ is in the top 2% of the population. Mensa members are also known as ‘Mensans’.
The word ‘Mensa’ comprises two Latin words: mens, which means “mind” and mensa, which means “table”, indicating that it is a round-table (open discussion) society of minds.
There are now around 100,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. There are active Mensa organizations in over 40 countries on every continent except Antarctica.
The website for Mensa International can be found here.
Websites for national groups can be found here.
There are now around 100,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout the world. There are active Mensa organizations in over 40 countries on every continent except Antarctica. The website for Mensa International can be found here. Websites for national groups can be found here.