What Exactly Is Mensa? How Smart Do You Have to Be to Join?

Roland Berrill and Dr. Lance Ware founded Mensa in 1946 in England. According to American Mensa, Ltd., the Latin word mensa has several meanings: "mind," "table" and "month." Mensa was created to serve as a round-table society for highly intelligent people to meet on a monthly basis. Now an international organization, there are about 100,000 members in 100 countries throughout the world. The population of Mensans (as members are called) is extremely diverse. Men, women and children of various national, cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds belong to Mensa. Occupational and professional backgrounds are equally varied. Police officers, homemakers, scientists, truck drivers, physicians, farmers, artists and many others hold membership in the organization. Although members' ages range from around four years to 90+ years, the two largest age groups are 14 to 33 and 34 to 53.

There is only one criterion for membership in Mensa: Each member must possess a high IQ. If you've read our answer to this question, then you know that IQ stands for intelligence quotient. Today's IQ tests are designed to measure your general ability to solve problems and understand concepts. This includes reasoning, problem solving, the ability to perceive relationships between things and the ability to store and retrieve information. Mensa sets the high IQ bar at or above the 98th percentile on an approved standardized test of intelligence. This means that your score must be equal to or greater than the scores of 98 percent of the other people who take the test.


To apply for membership, you can either take The Mensa Admissions Test or you can submit test scores from a supervised, standardized intelligence test that place you in the top 2 percent. Some of the tests that have been used for qualification are: the California Test of Mental Maturity, the Wechsler Adult and Children Scales, the SAT, LSAT and GRE.

If you are wondering what the admissions test is like, you can order the Mensa Home Test from American Mensa Ltd. to get an idea of what types of questions they ask. Or, if you are looking for a fun mental drill, try the Mensa Workout. Although this mini-test will not qualify you for membership, it will provide you with about a half-hour of cerebral calisthenics. Thirty questions test your spatial, mathematical and language abilities. And if this isn't enough to sate your appetite, there are dozens of mensa-esque quiz and puzzle books available, some of which were written by Mensa members.

Here are some interesting links:

Here are some quiz and puzzle books:

Originally Published: Jun 19, 2001


Mensa FAQ

How do you get into Mensa?
Mensa has only one criterion for membership: a high IQ. They require members to take an approved standardized test of intelligence and score in the 98th percentile.
What IQ do you need to be in Mensa?
To get into Mensa, a person must be in or above the 98th percentile on a standardized IQ or other approved intelligence test, meaning their score must be equal to or greater than the scores of the top two percent of candidates who take the test. Besides Mensa's Admissions Test, tests like the Stanford Binet, LSAT and California Test of Mental Maturity are accepted, though the required minimum scores are different. For example, a person must get at least a132 on the Stanford-Binet test and a 148 on the Cattell test.
Who has the highest IQ in Mensa?
As of April 2021, Anushka Dixit, an eleven year old British girl of Indian origin, has one of the highest IQs in Mensa. This young girl has proven to be smarter than both Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
What does the word “Mensa” mean?
The Latin word "Mensa" has various meanings, including mind, table and month. Mensa was basically created as a round-table society for highly intelligent people to gather on a monthly basis. As of 2021, there are around 100,000 members in 100 countries across the globe.
How do I prepare for the Mensa test?
If you want to prepare for the Mensa test, you can order the Mensa Home Test from American Mensa Ltd. This practice test will give you a good idea of what type of questions they ask. There are also many Mensa-esque quiz and puzzle books available online that you can use to prepare, some of which have been written by Mensa members.