Over the past several months, I have received quite a few inquiries for IQ testing for Mensa membership. Admittedly, I had little knowledge of Mensa other than it is an organization for “smart” people.

A quick glance at their website indicates Mensa was formed in England in 1946.  The word “mensa” in Latin means “table,” and the original Mensa society “was so named because Mensa is a round-table society where ethnicity, colour, creed, national origin, age, politics, educational and social background are all completely irrelevant.”  Simply put, Mensa is open to all.

In fact, the only criteria for membership is having an IQ in the upper 2% of the population.

While membership to Mensa is often viewed as a symbol of intellectual status, there are additional benefits. Mensa members receive opportunities to engage in discussions, lectures, and exchanges of ideas with other members.  Mensa’s website touts that “its members serve as a critical but intelligent audience for new ideas propagated by other members.”

So, how is IQ calculated for Mensa?

Calculating IQ

In my previous post, How is IQ Calculated?, we learned that one’s intelligence is broken down into various domains.  In the IQ assessments I administer, there are four or five domains, depending on the individual’s age:

Adults (ages 16-99)

  • Verbal Comprehension
  • Perceptual Reasoning
  • Working Memory
  • Processing Speed

Children (ages 6-16)

  • Verbal Comprehension
  • Visual Spatial
  • Fluid Reasoning
  • Working Memory
  • Processing Speed

These domains are unique to the Wechsler scales, which are one of the two most widely recognized IQ assessments, the other being the Woodcock Johnson scales, which has slightly different domains.  Mensa recognizes both assessments when considering membership.

Once we have an index score in each of these domains, we can then calculate one’s overall IQ.  The vast majority of the population will have an IQ somewhere between 80 and 120.

IQ Ranges

Although most people fall into the 80 to 120 range for IQ, the scores extend beyond those numbers in both directions.  The Wechsler scales, which are one of the most widely recognized IQ assessments, uses the following descriptors for IQ numbers:

  • Below 70:  Extremely Low
  • 70-79:  Very Low
  • 80-89:  Low Average
  • 90-109:  Average
  • 110-119:  High Average
  • 120-129:  Very High
  • 130 and above:  Extremely High

IQ Percentiles

As I mentioned above, the vast majority of people fall in the 80-120 range.  When looking at percentiles, that includes about 82% of the overall population.

Those at the 130 and above range (Extremely High) comprise only 2.2% of the population.

What is the Mensa IQ

Mensa is very clear that membership is only open to individuals with an IQ in the top 2% of the population.  As noted above, 2.2% of the population falls in the 130 and above category.  So, technically, those whose IQ is 130 and 131 do not quite meet the criteria.

According to Mensa’s website, the cutoff score for acceptance is 132.  This is a VERY high IQ score, and one that I rarely see.

Interestingly, many of the individuals I assess do not come to me specifically for Mensa testing.  Instead, they come for other reasons and then find out they have an IQ of 132 or above.  It is always a pleasant surprise when I tell them, “You qualify for Mensa!”

If you are interested in an IQ assessment for Mensa, the process takes about one hour.  Additionally, you can do it either in-person or virtually.  Scheduling is quick and easy, and results are provided the same day!