What Is Mensa And What Is A Mensa IQ?

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.


An IQ In The Top 2%

Getting into Mensa – even with training – 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 shaped 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 here.

Standardized IQ tests are designed so that the 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 as you can see.

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.


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:

  1. Full-scale IQ tests. These are the most comprehensive test of general intelligence (G). They are made up of subtests for fluid intelligence, 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.
  2. Culture-fair tests. These test a core component of your intelligence called ‘fluid intelligence’ (Gf). Fluid intelligence is our ability to reason and problem solve, independently of familiarity, training and practice.  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. Most are full-scale tests. Some are culture fair fluid intelligence tests.

The more well-known IQ tests can cost in the region of $300-$500 for a professionally administered.



The Mensa Admission Test

One strategy for measuring your true IQ level and assessing your chance of joining Mensa  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 International Mensa details. 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.


Start Quiz


The Mensa Home Test

Alternatively you can take the online Mensa practice test for $18 – although the price may vary (UK for £9.95 here).

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 GIQ Test correlated within about 4% of an individual’s full scale score on a clinically proctored IQ test. The GIQ Test’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


Getting Into Mensa – Training Strategy

Getting into Mensa benefits greatly from the following plan if you are taking a full-scale IQ test:

  1. 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.
  2. Take the Mensa workout (see above).
  3. Take the Mensa home test (see above).
  4. Take the GIQ test (see above).
  5. 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.
  6. Leading up to your qualifying IQ test, consider other methods to augment your IQ through neuroplasticity.
  7. Leading up to your qualifying IQ test, commit to practicing full scale IQ test problems.  The i3 software package  has been designed to systematically give users practice on full scale IQ test problems. There are other sets available online with some research. It is known that this practice can substantially improve scores on full scale tests.
  8. There are other types of training you can adopt over this period to further increase your cognitive performance. These include regular exercise, a brain-optimizing diet and intermittent fasting – i.e. brain cross training. For an example program read here.
  9. Take the official test.
  10. Assess your score. If you succeeded, congratulations. If not, consider going through the training cycle again. Many individuals succeed the second time round.

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.

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