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!

Unknown said...

Am I the only one who's even looked up the changes? In case you haven't, here's what they did to make it test "exclusively what has been taught in school:"

-Removed antonyms (because they relied too much on prior knowledge)
-Changed the number of verbal questions from 85 to 78
-Replaced the TSWE with two 15-minute math and verbal sections at the end of the test
-Added ten "open-response" math problems
-Allowed calculators for the math sections
-Increased the amount of reading comprehension questions to compose ~50% of the verbal.

As you can see, that totally makes the SAT cover absolutely NOTHING but learned material. Literally just learned material.

Oh, and with the ACT?

-Recentered the English and Math scores
-Replaced the SOCIAL STUDIES and NATURAL SCIENCES sections with general reading and scientific reasoning sections.
-Made the English less grammar-based and put more emphasis on writing skills (once again changing it to exclusively learn-able stuff)

You know, you cannot learn the causes fall of the Roman Empire, or scientific facts.

Remember in history class, when before tests the teacher told you that he didn't actually teach anything and it was all up to your innate mental abilities to know about events such as the Dark Ages and the Incans? Studying history is completely pointless.

And what's even philosophical about changing a test from aptitude to achievement? "We need to sound smart."

And when changing it, the College Board actually said that the SAT was never supposed to be something unable to be learned. They said they were making it better-aligned with school material. Therefore, the pre-1994 tests are also 100% achievement-based because they said so. After-all, corporations never lie.

TL;DR: No one in Mensa even bothered to look up the content changes.

Copernicus said...

Actually people in Mensa DID look up the changes, not the content changes for the achievement test - but just those applicable once the SAT left the aptitude sphere. In other words, Mensa was more focused on the specific changes that led to the reclassification in the first place. Once the SAT (and GRE) became achievement tests as verified by Mensa psychometricians (like Dr. Salny) there was no longer any interest in parsing any further changes down through the years. There was simply no interest in doing so.

The chestnut about the test "never supposed to be something unable to be learned" is truly choice. It appears the college board by saying s never really examined or analyzed their own tests, like Abbie Salny did. So much for corporate blatherskite.

Copernicus said...

To 'Unknown': No studying history is not "completely pointless"! What is pointless is the pathetic way it's usually taught - as a series of rote memorizations. But understanding why, for example, JFK was in the target sights of the national security state and how they probably had a hand in his assassination is not pointless at all. Indeed, it explains the basis for the Vietnam War given Kennedy's National Security Action Memorandum 263 (to remove all personnel from 'Nam by calendar year 1965) was replaced by Johnson's NSAM 273 which greenlighted the war. It only required LBJ to find a pretext (the Tonkin Gulf incident in Aug. 1964) to light the fire.

As philosopher George Santayana put it: "Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it".

Unknown said...

Let me just say that you're lucky the SAT didn't have many reading comprehension questions back in the day.

Copernicus said...

Actually, I don't believe I am the one with the reading comprehension issues. I believe it is you, Mr. Or Miss "Unknown". Part of the problem is also your vague writing, in being unable to make a strong and coherent argument. Is your primary case or issue with looking up the changes, or the changes themselves? Are you trying to argue that aptitude tests don't really make the cut any more than achievement tests? Or are you just arguing that Mensa failed to take each into account?

Try to focus your mind more and present a case for or against whatever it is you are arguing - pro or con. You presented the stats applicable to the changes, now make the argument and form a solid conclusion with a minimum of distracted prose and nebulosity.

Copernicus said...

N.B. Failure to make your point or argument will rapidly bring this exchange to a close. You appear to have some interesting takes on SAT testing, but I'd really like to see a much clearer exposition for what it is exactly you're about. Your original comment veered to roughly 6 different topics while never resolving the point. Again, aim for coherence and conclusion - not just a snarky retort, The latter earns you no kudos and no publication.

Gregor Renk said...

This is just superb information. I found it so helpful. Well, I have also been thinking to go for the online Bar Review Courses so that I can prepare in a way that I can succeed. But it is hard for me to pick any course. I wonder if you could help regarding it.

Copernicus said...

Hello, Gregor, I believe in the case of any advanced preparation, whether for law school, or GRE (general) or subject tests one must first identify where his talents and specialist abilities lie. Once that is achieved, success in the chosen field is fairly well assured- and one only then requires hard work to attain one's goals. It is difficult (often) to pick a course or professional track, but alas, only the individual can do this - for himself. No outsider can do it because he can never know the individual and his strengths and weaknessses as well as the person himself.