Interpret your supervised test score
American Mensa offers two test batteries that may qualify you for membership. The first includes both the Mensa Admission Test and the Mensa Wonderlic®; this is the battery of tests given most frequently. The second battery is a “culture fair" battery that includes the Cattell Culture Fair, the Nonverbal Reasoning Test and the SRA Pictorial Reasoning Test.
After you test with one of our local, volunteer Proctors, your tests are sent to our National Office for scoring. Within seven to 10 business days, your tests are scored and a letter with your Mensa qualification status is mailed. This letter also contains the raw scores for each of the tests you take, and you need qualify on only one of the tests to be offered membership.
Raw scores, percentile rank and IQ
Each test score is calculated based on the number of questions you answered correctly, and the number of potentially correct answers varies from test to test. Additionally, depending on the test, adjustments in scoring may take into account your age when you take the test. The resulting score is your raw score — but this number is not your IQ.
For the purpose of joining American Mensa, IQ (or intelligence quotient) is a measure of relative intelligence determined by a supervised, standardized test. IQ and your percentile rank are the means by which we determine qualification for membership.
Your percentile rank and IQ are calculated by comparing your raw scores to those of a very broad selection of individuals who took the same test. The percentile rank indicates the percentage of individuals in that group who scored lower than you. For example, a percentile rank of 90 indicates that your score was at or above that of 90 percent of individuals in that group. For American Mensa's purposes, you qualify for membership by achieving a percentile rank of 98 or the equivalent score for a specific test.
How standardized tests work
Standardized tests, including the tests American Mensa offers, are “normed” to provide a “bell curve” distribution of scores in the general population, with an average (mean) score of 100. Norms are statistics that describe the test performance of a well-defined, broad population. Normed tests compare a person's score against the scores of a large group of people who have already taken the same exam, called the "norming group." Those scores are then tabulated and the statistical results provide the bell curve from which the test can provide IQ and/or percentile rank.
Areas under the curves represent percentages in the population. Nearly 70 percent of the population has an IQ between 85 and 115 on most tests. The scores above 115 are generally considered as “high IQ,” and those above 130 to 132 (depending on the test taken) are usually considered highly gifted and are in the top 2 percent of the population. This level also qualifies you for membership in American Mensa.
What these numbers mean
If your score on any supervised, standardized intelligence test puts you in the 98th percentile or above, you qualify for membership in Mensa. You will not need to ever test again to maintain eligibility. If you achieved this score on any of our tests, you need only pay your dues in order to join our organization.
If you scored near the 98th percentile on our tests, you might test well on another test with different circumstances. Further, you might have tested well on another test in school, college or in the military, and you can use that prior test score from any time in your life to qualify for American Mensa.
If you have an IQ between 85 and 110, you may not qualify for Mensa, but you’re still in good company; 68 percent of the population scores within this range. And we bet you’re smart enough to see that neither you nor your quality of life is defined by a number.
More details about our tests and joining
Test scores are estimates based on your test performance on a particular day. As such, there is always a margin of error. On another day, your score might be higher or it might be lower. However, it is important to note that your score will not change substantially. You are not likely to see a five-point rise or drop in your score unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Your results on American Mensa’s tests may vary slightly for any number of reasons unrelated to intelligence or the test. Individuals may be influenced by external factors such as how much sleep they’ve gotten, general stress level or time of day; they may also do better on one test over another because of the type of test — analogies, verbal questions or spatial questions.
Upon receiving your qualification letter and raw scores, you may want to go over your tests. Unfortunately, American Mensa's tests are copyrighted and are considered private to the organization. As such, we cannot provide copies of the tests or provide a list of the questions you may have gotten right or wrong. If you feel you could improve your score, you're welcome to take our second test battery and perhaps you might do better with it.