An Indian-Origin Girl is in Top 1% of the World’s Brightest People

Iona achieved a score of 162 in the Mensa IQ test – putting her in the top 1% of brightest people in the world.

3 min read
Hindi Female

Eleven-year-old British Asian girl Iona Mandal from Birmingham, UK, has achieved an astonishing score of 162 in the gruelling British Mensa’s IQ test in the Cattell III B – thus putting her in the top 1% of brightest people in the world.

It’s an extremely humbling experience, especially because I never thought I would be capable of achieving this! To this day, I am still in disbelief. I keep wondering whether this is true or not.
Iona Mandal, Year VII student

Out of 20-odd adults, Iona was the only child to give the test held last week in Birmingham.

The raw scores are “normed” to take account of the candidate’s age and 162 is the highest score which can be achieved by someone under 18. For an adult, it is 161.


In a classroom-like-environment with three invigilators in the room, the participants had to do a full booklet of test papers. Interestingly, Iona who enjoys rock climbing and debating, completed the test in two hours.

As clichéd as this may sound, I hardly put in five minutes of effort – that too only on one day, almost two or three months before the exam. My mother did buy me two Mensa puzzle books online – thinking I would flip through them to give me a bit of a head start. But I didn’t even get the time with all my schoolwork and extra-curricular activities. I do a lot of writing and sometimes have to live up to deadlines so time just flies.
Iona achieved a score of 162 in the Mensa IQ test –  putting her in the top 1% of brightest people in the world.
Jonathan Douglas, director of National Literacy Trust, hands over the prize.
(Photo Courtesy: Ilika Chakrabarty Mandal)

(Iona incidentally is the joint winner of The 2017 Wicked Young Writer Awards. She even got an opportunity to read one of her poems in The House of Lords in 2015.)

Of course, she doesn’t regret her decision of “zero preparation – especially after seeing the results”!

“I feel that IQ tests such as Mensa should be given without any preparation in order to receive a more accurate results of one’s intelligence quotient,” smiled Iona – who sometimes wears a chef’s hat to bake her favourite pantry cake.


When she took her seat inside the examination room though, she admits feeling “slightly nervous”.

I was the only child in the room, surrounded by grown-ups! I had never experienced anything like it before. That made me a little uneasy. My daddy had to be on the premises of the test centre in the waiting area as I was a minor and it was comforting to know he was somewhere around.

Most of Iona’s friends weren’t even aware about the test.

A friend of Iona’s, in fact, told her mom she couldn’t believe her friend’s IQ was higher than renowned personalities like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. “But I am nowhere near these personalities!” protests the 11-year-old.

Mensa was founded in October 1946 in Oxford. It was the brain child of two barristers, Lancelot Ware and Roland Berrill, who discovered a mutual interest in high intelligence and its applications during a chance meeting.

John Stevenage, chief executive of British Mensa, congratulated Iona on her score and said:

If she chooses to take up her membership offer, she will join a growing community of children and teenagers in Mensa who enjoy meeting new people and learning new things through the society.
Iona achieved a score of 162 in the Mensa IQ test –  putting her in the top 1% of brightest people in the world.
When she took her seat inside the examination room though, Iona admits feeling “slightly nervous”.
(Photo Courtesy: Ilika Chakrabarty Mandal)

Young Iona’s parents, who hail from West Bengal, were initially surprised with their little girl’s achievement – although they expressed great pride.

We are very proud of Iona. However, Iona needs to remember that there is a much bigger picture than IQ alone. Social, emotional and spiritual intelligence hold the keys. Iona will need to keep her feet on the ground and learn to appreciate and nurture these as she grows up.
Ilika Chakrabarty Mandal, Iona’s mother

(Anjana Parikh works with the healthcare sector in the UK. She's also a freelance writer based in Manchester. Before relocating to the UK in 2013, she worked as a full-time journalist with some of India's leading dailies like The Times of India, Deccan Herald and The Sunday Guardian. She also worked as the News Editor for a leading British Asian weekly Asian Lite. Apart from reading and writing, she also loves rambling and singing.)

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