The Mensa Test

What is Mensa? Mensa International is the world’s oldest nonprofit high IQ society for people of extremely high intelligence. The umbrella group Mensa International is composed of numerous smaller Mensa chapters, each representing a single nation. Founded by Dr. Lancelot Ware and Roland Berrill in 1946, the organization is non-political and does not discriminate against candidates for membership on the basis of age, race, religion, or any other factor apart from the intelligence qualification.

The three purposes of Mensa, according to the organization’s constitution, are:

  1. Identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity
  2. Encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence
  3. Promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members

What are Mensa’s requirements for minimum IQ?

To be qualified as a Mensa member, you have to score in the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized intelligence test such as the Stanford-Binet test or the Cattell Culture Fair test (CFIT). What this means is that the Mensa IQ score range varies depending on the type of IQ test being used. For the two tests mentioned here, someone must score at least two standard deviations above the mean score of 100. The Stanford Binet test has a standard deviation of 16 and the Cattell Culture Fair test has a standard deviation of 24. This means that the Mensa IQ requirement for minimum score on the Stanford-Binet is 132, while the lowest qualifying Mensa score for the CFIT is 148. 

An average Mensa IQ score has not been made publically available, so we can only know that the average is higher than these established minimum IQ scores.

American Mensa, often referred to as US Mensa, has its own qualification exam that doesn’t give a score equivalent to the scores used by the other Mensa chapters. Every qualifying intelligence test for Mensa must be taken in person; there are no online tests that the organization accepts.

How can people be admitted to Mensa?

Many people visit this site wondering how to become a member of Mensa. The answer is that to be admitted to Mensa, one must submit an intelligence test score. This can be done either by taking the Mensa admission test or by submitting an exam score on another test that meets the organization’s guidelines.

To obtain an exam score, one can begin by contacting the organization that administered the test. In the case of tests administered at school, one should contact the school and request a certified copy of the exam results. Mensa will accept a certified copy of a school exam as long as it includes the individual’s full name, birth date, and a clearly-defined IQ score or percentile.

In the case of a test administered by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, the test results submitted to Mensa should include a letter bearing the tester’s professional letterhead.

What does Mensa mean?

One of the first questions people have about Mensa is usually, “What does Mensa stand for?” Surprisingly, the word “Mensa” is the Latin word for “table”. It was chosen as the organization’s name to highlight the group’s “roundtable” nature as a discussion group where all the members could treat one another as equals and expect to have their voices heard equally. A table is used as part of the organization’s logo.

Where can I take a Mensa test?

To find out where to take the Mensa exam, contact the nearest Mensa chapter. Some national chapters allow for a pre-test that can be taken at home; contact the nearest national chapter for more details. If you live in a country that doesn’t have a national Mensa organization, you can contact Mensa International directly.

Follow this link to find your local Mensa chapter in the United States:

What is the format of the Mensa test?

The exam is taken in person and proctored by a volunteer. There are two types of tests that can be taken. The standard Mensa test and the Culture Fair Test. The standard test contains a variety of questions to test logic and reasoning along with questions related to verbal intelligence, vocabulary and math skills. Each section of the standard Mensa test is timed. The Culture Fair test includes questions that are based on puzzles and patterns and is a language-free test outside of the instructions, which are in English. This test includes three sections with only one of them being timed. The Culture Fair test is often the preferred choice for non-native English speakers who may struggle with the timed sessions of the standard Mensa test.

You can only take one test during your session, but if you fail to qualify for Mensa on your first attempt, you can try once more with the other version of the test. You cannot make a second attempt at the same test. In order to qualify to join Mensa, you have to score in the 98th percentile on either of the two tests. The standard test session takes approximately two hours. The Culture Fair session takes between two and three hours.

In the U.S., prospective members must be at least 14 years old in order to take the American Mensa exam. However, those 14 and under are still welcome to submit the results of other qualifying exams to Mensa. The American Mensa exam can only be taken once unless the individual submits evidence of mitigating circumstances.

What is the Mensa workout?

The Mensa Workout is an online Mensa practice test. Results of the Mensa Workout can’t be used to qualify for membership in Mensa, but many people who intend to apply for Mensa take it either to practice for the Mensa exam or for the personal challenge.

How do you practice for the Mensa IQ test?

Sites like this one provide questions that are similar to many questions on the standard Mensa test. Our 50 question cognitive ability test provides a similar experience and similar types of questions to help you prepare.

Practice tests are also given to those that request them through Mensa. These can be taken at home to see where you place and know what to expect on the actual test. Their practice tests consist of 60 questions that have to be answered in 40 minutes.

Additional practice tests can also be found on the internet to help build memory, cognitive and problem-solving skills needed for the IQ tests.

Who are some famous Mensa members?

People are often surprised by the low or high intelligence of celebrities and athletes. Each year the Wonderlic test scores from the NFL combine are big news, and there are tens of thousands of searches each month for the IQ scores of famous people. While we recommend taking most of the information shared about a person’s IQ or Wonderlic scores with a grain of salt, there are some notable celebrities that have achieved Mensa membership. 

  • Geena Davis
  • Quentin Tarantino
  • Sharon Stone
  • James Woods
  • Kara Hayward
  • Nolan Gould
  • Ashley Rickards
  • Leif Gantvoort
  • Alan Rachins

More useful resources

If you’d like to reach the registered office of Mensa International Limited, use the contact information below:

Mensa’s registered office:
Slate Barn, Church Lane
Caythorpe, NG32 3EL, United Kingdom

Mensa International Chapters

Mensa has a global reach and there are national chapters across the globe. Direct links to some of the most popular national groups can be found below:

The Mensa Foundation is a group that awards hundreds of scholarships worth more than $100,000 to students each year. You can learn more about the available scholarships on their website.

For further information regarding MENSA and the tests required, visit