What is Mensa?
Mensa was founded in England in 1946
by Roland Berrill, a barrister, and Dr Lance Ware, a scientist
and lawyer. They had the idea of forming a society for bright
people, the only qualification for membership of which was a high
IQ. The original aims were, as they are today, to create a society
that is non-political and free from all racial or religious distinctions.
The society welcomes people from every walk of life whose IQ is
in the top 2% of the population, with the objective of enjoying
each other's company and participating in a wide range of social
and cultural activities.
What are Mensa's goals?
Mensa has three stated purposes: to identify and foster human
intelligence for the benefit of humanity, to encourage research
in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, and to
promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for
How many members does Mensa have?
Today there are some 100,000 Mensans in 100 countries throughout
the world. There are active Mensa organizations in over 40 countries
on every continent except Antarctica. Membership numbers are also
available for specific National Groups.
What kind of people are Members of Mensa?
There is simply no one prevailing characteristic of Mensa
members other than high IQ. There are Mensans for whom Mensa provides
a sense of family and others for whom it is casual. There have
been many marriages made in Mensa but for many people, it is simply
a stimulating opportunity for the mind. Almost certainly most
Mensans have a good sense of humor and they like to talk. And,
usually, they have a lot to say.
Mensans range in age from 4 to 94, but most are
between 20 and 49. In education they range from preschoolers to
high school dropouts to people with multiple doctorates. There
are Mensans on welfare and Mensans who are millionaires. As far
as occupations, the range is staggering. Mensa has professors
and truck drivers, scientists and firefighters, computer programmers
and farmers, artists, military people, musicians, laborers, police
officers, glassblowers - you name it. There are famous Mensans
and prize-winning Mensans, but there are many, many whose names
you wouldn't know.
What does "Mensa" mean?
The word "Mensa" means "table" in Latin. The
name stands for a round-table society, where race, color, creed,
national origin, age, politics, educational or social background
What opinions does Mensa have?
Mensa takes no stand on politics, religion or social issues.
Mensa encompasses members from so many different countries and
cultures, and with many different points of view. For Mensa to
espouse a particular point of view would go against its role as
a forum for all points of view. (Of course, individual Mensa members
often have strong opinions. It is said that in a room with 12
Mensans you will find 13 differing opinions on any given subject.)
How do I qualify for Mensa?
Membership in Mensa is open to persons who have attained
a score within the upper two percent of the general population
on an approved intelligence test that has been properly administered
and supervised. There is no other qualification or disqualification
for membership eligibility.
The term "IQ score" is widely used but
poorly defined. There are a large number of tests with different
scales. The result on one test of 132 can be the same as a score
148 on another test. Some intelligence tests don't use IQ scores
at all. Mensa has set a percentage as cutoff to avoid this confusion.
Candidates for membership in Mensa must achieve a score at or
above the 98th percentile (a score that is greater than or equal
to 98 percent of the general population taking the test) on a
standard test of intelligence.
Generally, there are two ways to prove that you
qualify for Mensa: either take the Mensa test, or submit a qualifying
test score from another test. There are a large number of intelligence
tests that are "approved". More information on whether
a test you have done is approved, as well as information on the
procedure for taking the Mensa test, can be obtained from the
nearest Mensa office. There are no on-line tests that can be used
for admission to Mensa. Feel free to contact Mensa for specific
details about eligibility.
Mensa has no other eligibility requirements other
than IQ testing. However, many tests are not valid for people
under the age of 16. You should contact the nearest Mensa office
for more information.
How do I get proof of my test scores?
Contact the testing service requesting that they send you
a report showing your score. Include as much of the following
information as you can. If you can't give an exact answer, an
approximation is better than nothing. Many testing services charge
a fee for sending reports; you should give the service a call
before writing them.
For school testing, write to the school you attended,
and ask for a CERTIFIED copy of your score. It must include your
birth date, the name of the test, and a clearly defined number,
i.e., IQ, or percentile rank nationally. Mensa does not accept
achievement tests. The school seal must be stamped on the report.
For psychologist/agency testing, have the report
sent on professional letterhead, with the psychologist's or agency's
license or registration number. Mensa accepts only tests given
by those people qualified to do testing privately in the state
in which the examiner resides. Date of test, name of test, and
full score must be given, and the report must be signed.
A notarized copy of any of the reports will be
accepted, non-notarized copies may be rejected.
Is there a Mensa test?
If you've never taken an IQ test, or don't want to bother
with getting official copies of your test scores, then Mensa can
test you. You will be put in contact with the local testing coordinator
who will tell you about specific testing dates and places.
In some countries, Mensa can also send you a pretest
you can take in the privacy of your home. To find out whether
such a test is available in your country, please see National
Groups. When you've finished it, send it back and it will be scored,
and you will be notified of the results. If your score is high
enough you'll be invited to take the qualifying supervised test.
The pretest is just for practice, you can't use it to qualify
for Mensa even if you score at or above the 98th percentile (although
the pre-test is not required for admission, many people take it
simply for the challenge).
Feel free to contact Mensa for more information
or to arrange testing. More specific information is also available
about testing costs for any of the National Groups.