You Could Already Qualify to Be a Member of Mensa—Here’s Why

There’s a good chance you’ve already taken the test you need to join this prestigious society.

Some of you might wonder if being a member of Mensa is just an ego booster. But the High IQ Society, founded in England in 1946 by Roland Berrill and Dr. Lance Ware, is more than just a group for bright people—its members get a plethora of opportunities for social, cultural, and intellectual interactions. These include lectures, journals, and special-interest groups. Additionally, discussions and debates occur at local, regional, national, and international gatherings, and there’s a brain-training app, called Mensa Brain Test, to keep you mentally challenged in your spare time. The organization also provides assistance to researchers inside and outside of Mensa for projects related to intelligence.

Mensa International has more than 140,000 members (aka Mensans) in more than 100 countries around the world. And while Mensa members have ranged in age from two to over 100 years old, most are between 20 and 60. So, are you ready to dip your toes in the water to find out if you’re Mensa smart—and if you actually already qualify for membership? First question: What does mensa mean? (Find the answer below!) And while you’re at it, see if you can answer these actual Mensa quiz questions to find out if you are, indeed, a genius.

How do I qualify for Mensa?

What it really comes down to is doing well (like, really, really well) on an approved intelligence test. Since Mensa membership is open to people who have attained a score within the upper 2 percent of the general population, there are two ways to go about this. First, you could take a test administered by Mensa. But the test must be administered in person, since online tests cannot be used for admission. That means you need to contact your nearest Mensa office to arrange the details. But the second option is easier than you think: If you’ve already taken an approved test, just submit your qualifying test score. (There are around 200 standardized tests that Mensa accepts.) That said, even though Mensa has members of all age groups, many tests are not valid for people under the age of 16. Check out these 8 people with higher IQs than Einstein.

How does IQ score play into it?

The term “IQ score” isn’t always clearly defined. In fact, it can get a little confusing since there a large number of intelligence tests offered with different scales. For example, a result of 132 on one test could be the same as a score of 148 on another. Furthermore, some intelligence tests don’t even use IQ scores. That’s the main reason Mensa keeps it simple with a cutoff of 98 percent—meaning that if you are at or above the 98th percentile on an approved intelligence test, you will qualify for Mensa. Can you pass the world’s shortest IQ test? Fewer than 20 percent of people can.

How do I get proof of my previous test scores?

If you think the answer seems obvious, you’re right. Simply contact the testing service that administered your test and ask them to send you a report showing your score. But it might not be free, so find out how much they charge before requesting the report. If your school administered the IQ test you took, contact them and ask for a certified copy of your score. The copy must include your name, your date of birth, the name of the test, and your IQ score or a national percentile score. Make sure the school seal is stamped on the report. If you’ve taken an “achievement” test, don’t waste your time—it won’t cut the grade with Mensa.

What if it was a private test?

Some of you might have taken a test privately with a qualified psychologist. In that case, the report needs to be sent on professional letterhead with the agency’s license or registration number. The report must be signed and also needs to include your personal details along with the name, date, and full score of the test. A notarized or signature-guaranteed copy of the report will be accepted; non-verifiable copies may be rejected. Check out these 15 word puzzles that will leave you stumped.

What if I’ve never been tested?

It could be the case that you’ve never been tested. Then again, some of you may have taken an intelligence test, but it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, and the details are foggy. Or maybe you simply can’t get ahold of an official copy of your test score. For any of these scenarios, just contact your local Mensa office and ask them to test you. The local testing coordinator will update you on where and when you can take your test. You will be able to find out testing costs ahead of time by checking the site’s National Groups page. The supervised test fee for the United States is $60.

Nervous about jumping right in?

Check out the pre-test option. While it’s not required for admission, many countries offer a pre-test you can take in the comfort of your own home; just check under National Groups. After you’ve taken the pre-test, you will need to return it to the testing center in your region. If your score is high enough, you will be invited to take a qualifying supervised test. Just be advised that even if you ace the pre-test, it cannot be used to qualify for Mensa—nope, not even if you score at or above the 98th percentile. If your national Mensa doesn’t offer pre-tests, spend 30 minutes answering 30 questions on the site’s Mensa Workout. It’s not an IQ test and can’t be used for qualification to join Mensa, but it will give you an idea of how you might do. According to one Japanese study, if you solve this math problem on the first try, you might be a genius.

So, why is it called Mensa, anyway?

For those of you who read to the end, good job! Mensa is Latin for table. The organization took on this name since Mensa is a roundtable society where race, color, creed, national origin, age, politics, and educational and social background are not considered relevant for membership. Whether it’s a way for you to keep up with lifelong friends or just to connect casually, Mensa is a great place for you to stimulate your mind. Next, find out which 13 presidents have the highest IQ scores.

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Dianne Bright
Dianne Bright is a southern California-based writer and a regular contributor with RD.com, where she writes about the environment, nutrition, finance, pets, and books. She also contributes to TheHealthy.com. Her work has appeared in Scholastic's Parent & Child magazine and blog, I Love Cats magazine, and Christianity Today, among other publications. Bright's book of parenting reflections: MOMS KICK BUTT, comes out in February, 2021. Her M.A. is in Spanish American Literature. Follow Dianne on Twitter @dibright, Facebook @AuthorDianneBright, and Instagram @authordiannebright.