Have you heard someone talk about Mensa before but were confused about what they meant? Maybe you’ve been asked if you’ve taken the Mensa test before. If you have ever been curious about the slightly odd-sounding club, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be diving into the questions of what Mensa is. We’ll discuss what it takes to join the organization and why you might want to consider joining. We’ll even give you some of our favorite tips and tricks to help you prepare if you plan to take an IQ exam.
What is Mensa?
Mensa technically means “table” in Latin and is designed to serve as an international round table of sorts. The organization’s membership is based on intellectual testing, like IQ tests, and is highly regulated by the organization.
Overall, Mensa is an international organization that accepts members based solely on their intellectual merit. When evaluating potential members, Mensa does not even consider anyone’s race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, political leaning, or age. The goal of this organization is to provide a community for like-minded people. They encourage intellectual conversations and aim to inspire individuals involved to utilize their high intellectual capacity.
Since Mensa accepts members based on intellectual merit and not any other characteristics, the type of people who are members of Mensa varies greatly. Mensa members come from all continents except Antarctica and range in age from 2 to over 100. They come from tons of different professions and range in educational background from preschool to high school dropouts to college graduates and everything in between.
You might have heard of the organization because of the numerous famous Mensa members. Mensa has even invited cartoon characters, such as Lisa Simpson, to join their organization. Some other famous Mensa members include Nolan Gould (Modern Family star), John McAfee (computer programmer and anti-virus developer), and Martin Cooper (inventor of the mobile phone).
What are the Benefits of Joining Mensa?
One of the most significant benefits of joining Mensa is that you will be provided with a community of like-minded individuals. Mensa offers a variety of ways for its members to connect to one another and engage in stimulating intellectual discussions.
Mensa is also a massive resource for researchers. There are immense amounts of research done by Mensa members that rely on other Mensa members to help as well as outside research that utilizes the many talents of the Mensa members.
US-based members of Mensa can also participate in a number of special-interests groups, commonly called SIGs. These SIGs allow members to connect with others who share some interests. There are SIGs on many topics ranging from botany to games to atheists and everything in between.
Another benefit for Mensa members is called SIGHT, which stands for the Service of Information, Guidance, and Hospitality for Travelers. The SIGHT program connects Mensa members who are traveling internationally with Mensa members from that area who may be able to help them out. Think of it like Mensa’s own personal form of couch surfing, but you have access to over 100,000 couches.
On top of all the fantastic benefits of being a part of Mensa, you get the pride of knowing that you are intellectually in the top 2% of the world’s population. For many people, just knowing this fact is a great reward in and of itself. Others may find the benefits mean more to them, but in either case, it is a great honor to be a member of Mensa.
How Does One Qualify for Mensa?
If you are wondering how to join Mensa, you’ve come to the right place! There is only one way to get into Mensa: to be in the top 2% intellectually of the world’s population. There is no simple way of getting this information, though, so you must take a test in order to qualify and be accepted into Mensa.
Although Mensa is associated with IQ tests and scores, IQ is not a completely standardized test series. Mensa offers its own IQ test, but you are also welcome to take any Mensa-approved test. As long as you score in the top 98th-percentile, or top 2%, of all test-takers for that test, you will be accepted into Mensa.
Mensa does not care what race, ethnicity, religion, age, occupation, or anything else you are. They simply care if your score results put you in the top 2%. In this way, Mensa is a straightforward organization to get into.
How Much Does It Cost to Join Mensa?
Ultimately, it costs the Mensa organization money in order to keep offering their tests, keep funding their scholarships and publications and keep all of the benefits for their members. To help offset these operational costs, Mensa charges membership fees.
In the US, a yearly Mensa membership will cost $79, but that only covers your membership for one year. If you want to pay upfront for a three-year membership, you will be paying $215, ultimately saving $22 overpaying every year. If you want to save more, you can pay $350 for a five-year membership. The five-year option saves you $45.
There are also options to purchase lifetime memberships to the US Mensa. The price of a lifetime membership is calculated based on your age when you join. The lifetime membership is not transferable to any other national Mensa organization, so if you think you might move out of the country someday, it might be worth it to pay for the shorter-term Mensa memberships. The shorter-term memberships are transferable to other national Mensa organizations, making international moves a breeze.
If the finances are the only thing holding you back from joining Mensa, there are plenty of financial aid or scholarship options. Don’t assume that you won’t be able to join just because you can’t pay for Mensa. Reach out to your local Mensa chapter or look on the national Mensa website for any scholarships or financial aid options that might be right for you.
How to Prepare for Your Mensa IQ Test?
Preparing for your Mensa IQ test, or any IQ test, really is an interesting thing to do. On the one hand, your general IQ range is determined by your genetics, so studying won’t really impact your score.
On the other hand, your IQ score is not set in stone and can change slightly based on a lot of factors. Think of it this way, you are naturally going to fall into an IQ range, but the exact score that you get is more of a snapshot into you at that exact moment and is prone to change slightly over time.
You should be doing some things in the months leading up to your Mensa IQ test to give yourself the best possible chance of crushing the test. Remember that you have to get a score in the top 2% to be accepted into Mensa, so there is little room for mistakes.
Here are our top tips to help you prepare for your upcoming Mensa IQ test:
Take Mensa practice tests
Taking practice tests is the best way to figure out exactly what to expect on your upcoming exam. Not only do practice tests give you a good idea of what your score might be, but they also help train your brain to focus for the duration of the test. Understanding how questions will be asked and how long you have to answer them is immensely helpful when it comes to the actual test day.
With so many reputable organizations publishing Mensa IQ practice tests every year, you have so many to choose from. If you are taking a Mensa-approved test that is not administered through the organization itself, you can see if your testing body offers practice tests that are specific to their tests. This will make sure that the tests actually help you as much as possible.
Practice a little every day
Keeping your brain active and in shape is essential to your success on the IQ exam. There are so many different ways that you can incorporate Mensa review into your daily routine. There really is something for everyone, from apps with daily puzzles designed to push your brain to books with a puzzle every day.
Your brain is just like any other muscle in your body. It takes time, energy, and commitment to improving your brain functioning. You will also need to keep up this routine if you would like your brain to stay at its optimal performance level. Think of it like a runner who trains for a marathon. Chances are, they won’t stop running entirely after the race but simply run slightly less.
Take care of yourself.
Along the same lines of working your brain out, you need to provide your brain with its resources. In order to process and store information and form new neural pathways, your brain needs lots of water, good food, and sleep. Your brain can’t perform at its highest level without these three things.
Understanding how to take care of yourself both physically and mentally will set you up for success when you go to sit the test. Sitting and focusing for an extended period of time is not something that people are generally able to do well without practice and care, so make sure you take care of yourself.
Make sure you apply these tips to your Mensa preparation with enough time for them to impact your score. We recommend starting to prepare at least a month in advance, but ideally a few months in advance of your test date. A few months will give you a reasonable amount of time to prepare without too much time. If you only start practicing and taking care of yourself the week before your test, you might not see any impact on your score.
How Does Mensa Measure IQ?
IQ, or intelligence quotient, as a concept has been around since 1884, but it wasn’t until 1912 that William Stern actually coined the term. It was designed to compare one’s intellectual level to the average expected level of someone their age. The term IQ was initially used to represent the ratio of one’s mental age to their actual age, but the calculations have changed dramatically since then.
Nowadays, the most common IQ tests taken by Mensa members are the Stanford-Binet and the Cattell tests. There are lots of different IQ tests out there, and each has its own particular scoring system. For a complete list of IQ tests that Mensa accepts and testing organizations that Mensa will count as official scores, make sure you check the Mensa website for your country.
Although we as a society obviously still use IQ tests, they are no longer calculated how they used to be. In fact, modern-day IQ tests are not calculated by dividing anything, meaning that there is no longer a quotient involved in the intellectual quotient tests. Despite this oddity, IQ tests are still common means of calculating one’s intelligence.
The more modern tests are scored in relation to age in children but are scored in relation to an average in adults. This means that IQ test scores now compare how you performed on a series of tasks compared to a normal distribution of adults. If you score in the top 98th percentile or above, you are eligible for membership to Mensa.
Wrapping Things Up: What is Mensa?
Joining Mensa isn’t easy, but it can be super rewarding. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of just what Mensa is and what purpose they fill as an organization. If you think you might have what it takes to join Mensa, we encourage you to check out your local Mensa chapter’s website or the national Mensa website.
Not only do you get access to a fantastic community of like-minded individuals who will continue to push you to expand your views even more, but you also get to claim membership into one of the world’s most highly regarded organizations. Mensa isn’t the right fit for everyone, but it might be for you!
Because you read this post, you may also enjoy our post on the best Mensa reading list here.