Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why So Many Past Aptitude Tests Are No Longer Accepted by Mensa

Well, not only by Mensa, but other high I.Q. societies, as well, including Intertel and the Poetic Genius Society. The sad bottom line fact for most wannabe Mensans (and Ilians, etc.) is that if they wish to join these societies today they had better have taken the SAT, GRE, PSAT, ACT tests before they became inapplicable. If their past test evidence doesn't make the cut then they will have to sit the official Mensa test in order to qualify.

The question of no longer accepting the SAT actually was answered at some length by Abby F.Salny (Ed. D.) in the March, 1994 issue of the Mensa Bulletin (p. 9) in response to a reader's question. The letter writer asked:

"Please tell me why Mensa will not accept the new SAT results as evidence for admission to Mensa. Is there some new aspect of the SAT test that makes it invalid for Mensa use?"

Dr. Salny responded:

"Many Mensans have asked why we do not accept the 'new' SAT scores or the 'new' MCAT scores. This is not only an explanation but a possible philosophical explanation of the changes in the test.

The ACT went to content mastery testing some time ago. That means they were measuring learned knowledge and achievement. The SAT has not only changed to content achievement but has even changed its name from the Scholastic Aptitude Test to the Scholastic Achievement Test. The Medical College test has also gone content-oriented with two major sections, Physical Sciences and Biology.

Mensa's Constitution says 'IQ test or equivalent'. This means we can take a test that measures learning aptitude, but not a test that measures exclusively what has been taught in school. The whole purpose of Mensa was not to reward high scholastic achievement but to recognize intellectual giftedness. The two are not synonymous.

--- In short, any test that we have rejected, or that we will reject in the future, has changed content from IQ or equivalent to content mastery. Our Constitution mandates this and we are trying to follow our Constitution."

This means that now even the GRE (since Oct., 2001) cannot be considered a true aptitude test and a valid basis for evidence to qualify for Mensa membership. The American Mensa, Ltd. website makes it clear what past tests are still accepted as evidence for qualifying and which are now content -dominated so no longer are. These include:

ACT Compositeprior to 9/89  (29)29
effective 9/89 ( N/A)N/A

GMAT (Percentile rank of verbal + quantitative)** (95)95

GREprior to 5/94 (V+ Q = 1250)1250
scored from 5/94 to 9/01 (math + verbal + analytic = 1875)1875
effective 10/01 (N/A)N/A

Henmon-Nelson   (132)132

LSAT***prior to 1982 (662)662
1982 through 5/91 (39)39
effective 6/91 (163)163

Miller Analogies Test (MAT)prior to 10/04 (raw score 66)66
scored after 10/04 (total group percentile score 98)98

PSAT (taken in junior year)prior to 5/93 (180)180
effective 5/93 (N/A)N/A

PSAT (taken in senior year)prior to 5/93 (195)195
effective 5/93 (N/A)N/A

SAT or CEEBscored prior to 9/30/74 (1300)1300
scored from 9/30/74 - 1/31/94 (1250)1250
scored after 1/31/94 (N/A)N/A

So, if you have SATs from 1974 through 1/31/94 you can qualify if your Verbal-Math total is 1250 (if before 1974, it needs to be 1300). If you are using the GRE (Graduate Record exam)  prior to May, 1994, the total needs to be 1250. If after that date but before 10/01 then the verbal, quantitative and analytic total must come to 1875. After 10/01 it's no go, you will either have to bring up an earlier SAT test, or take the Mensa test.

The point is that prospective candidates can't blame Mensa or the other organizations which are just following their own prescribed rules. If they must blame anyone it's the ETS (Educational Testing Service) or other test manufacturers. But before you do, be mindful they are not beholden to providing any IQ equivalent aptitude tests, but rather  to satisfying the demands of colleges own evolving admission standards and requirements. The point is that the priorities of universities and colleges need in no way conform with those of Mensa, Intertel et al.

Oh, one other thing, you can't submit "blended" scores, i.e. from multiple test sittings, nor can you submit a "re-sit" score, e.g. for SATs. For those who wish to take the Mensa test (if no prior evidence test is allowable) you can obtain a practice test from American Mensa.  For those who are curious as to how their prior SAT or GRE scores translate into I.Q. check out:

Side note: It's interesting that the yen for content mastery has even invaded previous military aptitude tests, i.e.

Army GCT****prior to 10/80 (136)136
effective 10/80 (N/A)N/A

Navy GCT****prior to 10/80 (68)68

effective 10/80  (N/A)



philosophuc said...

I took the gre in 1997 and Dec. 2001. The content appeared to me then, and seems to me in retrospect, to have been the same. Analogies, antonyms, sentence comp., and reading comp. were all still on the verbal. The quant. section still tested the same level of mathematical ability as before (through algebra or some rather low level). The reading questions on the quant. section were still worded to test for critical thinking and analysis in mathematical problem solving, and the good old LSAT like analytic section was still there. I am not sure exactly what content changed to make it an achievement as opposed to an aptitude test. The only change I could see between 97 and Dec. 2001 was that the Dec. 2001 scoring obviously used an algorithm different from the raw score to scaled score method that was used in 1997 (but that was a result of the computer based testing system, which had already been in use for awhile prior to October '01). Unlike the SAT which did away with antonyms (and analogies, at some point), I did not perceive content change in the GRE between '97 and Dec. '01. It would be more informative if someone were able to point to the specific content changes that occurred in Oct.2001 that moved the test from one that measured aptitude to achievement.
Presently the GRE is far different in content (no more antonyms, analytic section has turned into a writing section...probably other changes of which I am unaware), but I am doubtful that there were any relevant changes in GRE content after Oct. 2001, but prior to Dec. 2001.(fair disclosure: I was a member of mensa in '97 (but used a test other than the gre/sat to qualify) and would have qualified with either gre test although my '97 test would not have qualified me for any of the 99.9 societies, whereas my Dec. 2001 test would have.)

Copernicus said...

Thanks for sharing your own GRE experiences and insights. Perhaps someone at Mensa can get Dr. Salny to explain why the specific content changes that occurred (in Oct.2001) moved the test from one that measured aptitude to achievement.

RR said...

I have 790 math and 440 verbal. my mother tongue is not english. is there any way to know the iq based on math scores alone

Copernicus said...

In response to RR, I know of no conversion index or estimator that would allow your to arrive at IQ from math scores alone. Sorry!

Kristen Hudson said...

Is the Detroit Test of learning aptitude considered acceptable? I was 18 when it was given.

Copernicus said...

You would probably have to contact Mensa to find out if it's acceptable. Probably the director of development would be the most logical choice. Email:

Even if they don't have the info they can point you to the person, persons who do. Good luck!