You are here

FAQs - Full list

What is Mensa?

Mensa is the world's oldest and most famous high IQ society.

What does Mensa mean?

It is not an acronym - it is Latin for ‘table’.  It denotes a round table where all members are equal.

Is Mensa a charity?

No. It is a not-for-profit membership organisation

What is its purpose?

Mensa is a society for like-minded people. Its aims are:  

  • to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity
  • to encourage research in the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence
  • to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members

When was Mensa formed?

Mensa was formed in Oxford in 1946 by Roland Berrill, an Australian barrister and Dr Lance Ware, scientist and lawyer. The organisation later spread around the world.

How many members are there?

British Mensa has about 20,000 members across the British Isles. There are more than 120,000 world-wide.

Mensa is rather elitist, isn’t it?

No. There is only one criterion for admission – there is no vetting, no committee approval, so it is actually easier to join Mensa than a lot of other clubs and societies. 

Members come from all walks of life and backgrounds. They can be young or old, married, single, divorced, separated or widowed, and any race, creed, colour, social or educational background.

What are the benefits of membership of Mensa?
  • Networking and social activities
  • Special Interest Groups – currently more than 100 hobby and interest groups
  • Monthly magazine and regional newsletters
  • Local meetings
  • Social networking community across several platforms 
  • Weekend gatherings and conferences
  • Lectures and seminars
  • Mensa-branded products

How old is your youngest member?

In British Mensa, our current youngest member is three years old. The youngest-ever member was two years and four months old at the time of joining.

How old is your oldest member?

We have a member of 102 - it’s never too late to join!

Are all Mensans eggheads?

No.  While a few members may fit the popular image, the majority of members are ordinary people.  What they do generally have in common is inquiring minds and a potential to learn.

Have you got any famous members?

Sir Clive Sinclair was Chairman for 15 years and was Honorary President of British Mensa until his death in 2021.  His inventions changed people’s lives. Former Mensa Chairman Sylvia Herbert is also well known after taking part in the BBC Test the Nation shows in 2002 and 2003 as one of the panel of experts.

Other celebrities reported to have qualified for membership include TV presenters Carol Vorderman, Bill Buckley, Debbie Flint and Rev Lionel Fanthorpe; author Zoe Barnes; model and former Miss Rochdale Laura Shields; biologist Dr Jack Cohen; journalist Garry Bushell; the late sci-fi  writer Isaac Asimov; economist and broadcaster Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute; US actress Geena Davis; footballers Andy Harris (Leyton Orient) and Joey Beauchamp (Oxford United); Guinness World Record crossword compiler Roger Squires; Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner David Edwards; boxer Nicky Piper and swimmer Adrian Moorhouse.

[PLEASE NOTE: This list has been compiled from various sources including information received through press and media reports. It is not Mensa policy to confirm or deny the current membership status of any individual without that person’s prior consent.]

What is IQ?

IQ or Intelligence Quotient is an attempt to measure intelligence.  This means many things to many people but generally the attribute of intelligence refers to quickness of mental apprehension (or mental agility).  It is often confused with knowledge, wisdom, memory, or a myriad of other attributes and in general has a variety of meanings depending on the context in which it is used.  IQ invariably refers to the attempt to quantify the attribute in its meaning of mental comprehension. 

There are several scales with which IQ may be measured depending upon which testing mechanism is used.  For this reason the most reliable and consistent value to be placed on IQ is that of the percentile.  An IQ of 150 is a meaningless claim unless the testing mechanism is also cited, but an IQ in the 98th percentile (i.e. higher than 98 per cent of the population) has consistent meaning.

What is measured in tests?

Standardised IQ tests look for competence in a range of areas - e.g. verbal, numerical, etc. - Mensa Supervised test sessions currently comprise two test papers. One is diagrammatical while the other measures largely verbal reasoning ability. A top 2% score on either would result in an invitation to join Mensa.

How do you become a member?
  • You need to prove your IQ is in the top two per cent of the population. For most people, this means taking a Mensa Supervised IQ Test.
  • Other methods of entry – accreditation of previous IQ test done by qualified psychologist (e.g. school, military). Mensa tests are not appropriate for children under 10½, who would need to be assessed by an educational psychologist. Any report from this can then be submitted as ‘prior evidence’.

What is the pass score for Mensa?

You cannot pass or fail an IQ test – it is a measurement. Putting a number on IQ is not really helpful, as it depends on which particular test you took. There are many IQ tests available and their scoring scales vary – rather like comparing imperial and metric measurements.

On the Culture Fair test used by British Mensa, a score of 132 places a candidate in the top two per cent of the population (the average IQ is taken as 100).  On the Cattell B III, also commonly used by Mensa, a score of 148 or above would be required.  All Mensans are in the top two per cent by IQ whichever scale their intelligence was measured by.

We accept scores from any approved and properly conducted IQ test, not just those we offer ourselves. Parents who are seeking Mensa membership for children under the age of six are advised to book a private assessment using the Stanford Binet test. Other tests might not be accepted for very young children.

Does your IQ change as you get older?

Not generally.  IQ tests are age adjusted, basically to take account of youth and inexperience (under 18) or age and diminishing speed. The reason is that, as we get older, diminishing speed and spatial awareness are balanced by having more knowledge and experience to draw on to solve problems. 

Keeping your mind active as you grow older will help maintain your cognitive faculties, although of course degenerative brain conditions can affect this.

Does Mensa have an approved schools list for bright children?

No. Schools change over time, and what is right for one child isn't necessarily right for another, even if they are of the same ability.

How can my school recognise my child’s intelligence?

If a school or parent thinks a child has exceptional ability they can contact their local education authority, health visitor or health authority. The Mensa Office also has a brief leaflet about gifted and talented children which can be sent out – call 01902 772771 to request a copy.

We offer discounted IQ testing to schools for their pupils aged 10 and a half years and over. For more information, contact the testing department on or call 01902 772771 (option 1)

Does Mensa do anything to support gifted children?

The society has a gifted child consultant, Lyn Kendall, who is a very experienced teacher and psychologist working with high IQ children.

There is a range of information for parents at, and the society works very closely with Potential Plus UK to support gifted children. Those aged 10 and under can get associate membership of Potential Plus as part of their Mensa membership.

Young members may also join our Junior & Teen group, and can get to know other gifted children through our social media groups.

There are regular family-orientated events throughout the year which gifted children and their siblings can enjoy.

How much does a Mensa IQ test cost?
  • A place at a Mensa Supervised IQ Test session costs £26.95

Do I have to take the test again if I leave and want to re-join?

No – just call the office and we can arrange to reinstate lapsed members. We welcome back more than 1,000 members each year.

How do people find out more about Mensa or apply for a test?

Read more about IQ Tests. You can also call us on: 01902 772771.

Why do you wrap your member magazine in plastic?

We don't. The Mensa Magazine is wrapped in a biodegradable film made from sugar starch. 

We are constantly reviewing the way our the magazine is wrapped and distributed and reducing our carbon footprint is a major consideration.