Mensa and Raven IQ Assessments

Mensa and Raven IQ Assessments

Exploring Mensa and Raven's Matrices: A look into global IQ tests, highlighting their use, and their differences.

Mensa IQ Test


Mensa is an international society for individuals who score in the top 2% of the general population on a recognized IQ test. While the organization itself doesn't create its own IQ tests, it recognizes scores from a variety of standardized IQ tests to determine eligibility for membership.

IQ Tests in Different Countries

Different Mensa organizations in various countries use a mix of accepted intelligence tests. Some even organize supervised test sessions for those wanting to join Mensa, often utilizing multiple tests to get a comprehensive view of an individual's cognitive abilities. For example, Mensa UK traditionally uses the Cattell III B and Cattell Culture Fair III A, while American Mensa accepts scores from approximately 200 different tests, including the Stanford-Binet and the WAIS. Each national Mensa body might have its own set of accepted tests, based on regional accessibility and preferences.

Raven's Progressive Matrices


Designed by John C. Raven in 1936, the Raven's Progressive Matrices is a non-verbal test used worldwide. The test measures abstract reasoning and is considered a good estimate of fluid intelligence, which is the ability to solve novel problems without relying on prior knowledge.

Test Structure

The test consists of multiple-choice questions, each presenting a series of patterns with a missing piece. The task is to identify the missing piece that completes the pattern from a set of given options. The test is designed to be culturally neutral, as it relies on geometric shapes and patterns rather than language or mathematical skills.

Types of Raven's Matrices

  • Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM): The original and most commonly used form, consisting of 60 items arranged in five sets (A, B, C, D, and E).
  • Colored Progressive Matrices (CPM): Designed for younger children, the elderly, and individuals with moderate or severe learning difficulties, consisting of three sets (A, AB, and B).
  • Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM): Intended for adults and adolescents with above-average intelligence, consisting of two sets (I and II).

How It Works

The Raven Progressive Matrices test evaluates an individual's ability to:

  1. Identify Patterns: Discern patterns in a series of shapes and figures.
  2. Problem-Solve: Use logical reasoning to determine the missing piece in the sequence.
  3. Make Abstract Connections: Understand complex, abstract relationships between different elements.

Administration and Scoring

The test can be completed on paper or digitally and generally takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

  • Raw Score: The total number of correctly answered items.
  • Percentile Rank: Converts the raw score into a percentile rank based on normative data.
  • Interpretation: Higher scores indicate better abstract reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

Similarities with Mensa IQ Tests


Both Mensa tests and the Raven's Progressive Matrices are utilized globally. They're designed to assess raw intellectual potential without being overly reliant on language or cultural specifics.

High Standards

Both are recognized and respected methods to gauge intelligence. For many Mensa chapters, a high score on the Raven's test can qualify for membership.

Differences from Mensa IQ Tests

Nature of Test

The Raven's test is strictly non-verbal and focuses on pattern recognition, whereas Mensa-accepted tests can span a variety of cognitive abilities, including verbal skills, mathematical abilities, memory, and more.


While the Raven's test is commonly used in research settings and offers a specific type of intelligence measurement, Mensa accepts a broader range of tests to cater to the multifaceted nature of intelligence.

Cultural Bias

The Raven's Progressive Matrices was designed to minimize cultural bias, making it particularly useful in multicultural settings or where language might be a barrier. Some other IQ tests accepted by Mensa might have more cultural or linguistic components, although efforts are usually made to minimize these biases.


In summary, while the Raven's Progressive Matrices is one of the tests that can qualify an individual for Mensa membership, it represents just a slice of the wide array of assessments that Mensa recognizes globally. Its non-verbal and abstract reasoning focus sets it apart from many other IQ tests, making it a unique tool in the realm of intelligence assessment. The analytical prowess measured by the Raven's test highlights the capability to solve complex problems and innovate, reflecting a core strength of intellectual potential.