11-Year-Old Schoolboy Beats Stephen Hawking in Mensa IQ Test, Achieving Highest Possible Score

Yusuf Shah, a Year 6 student (final year of primary school) at Wigton Moor Primary School in Leeds, United Kingdom, recently took the Mensa IQ test as he wanted to know if he figured in the top two percent of the people who take the test.

Wishful thinking much? One might say. Not for Yusuf, who performed so well that he came in the top one percent with the highest score possible, wait for it, beating geniuses Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein. The latter was never tested but was assumed to have a score of 160+.

Yusuf achieved a 162 on the test, which is more than the late physicist and author Professor Hawking, who is believed to have achieved 160.

The Shah family's joy knew no bounds. They celebrated their son's victory with a meal at Nando's. "I was so proud. He is the first person to take the Mensa test in the family. I was actually a little concerned too – he has always gone into a hall full of kids to take tests," Sana, Yusuf's mother, told the Yorkshire Evening Post in an interview on November 14. "We thought he might be intimidated by the adults [at the center]. But he did brilliantly."

Acing a test for high IQ-society is no simple feat

What exactly is a Mensa test? Mensa is an organization, the largest and oldest high-IQ society, for people who score high on a standardized approved IQ test. The word Mensa is Latin for 'table', chosen to signify the coming together of equals.

Now, surely Yusuf prepped for the day and night? Turns out, he did nothing over the top. Yusuf and his folks were looking at high schools to apply to, while he was also writing admissions tests for grammar schools. That's when they realized that verbal and nonverbal reasoning were also on the IQ test. "It is a difficult test to prepare for. We just did what we were already doing – nothing specific for the IQ test," Irfan, Yusuf's father, said.

Yusuf was told that he had 15 questions to answer in three minutes during a certain portion of the test. He misheard it to be within 13 minutes and took his time to answer the questions. Nevertheless, his performance was top-tier.

"It feels special to have a certificate for me and about me. I also never thought I would be on the news," Yusuf told the YEP. His mother jokingly added that they weren't even allowed to touch the certificate without watching their hands first.

Math whiz for life eyes Oxford, Cambridge

So what's next for the brilliant kid?

Yusuf is deeply interested in geography and flags, but mathematics is his true passion. Turns out, he had been invited to study the subject with his senior, but his parents wanted him to be within his year group for this "social development".

With mathematics on his mind, when he was seven, Yusuf even found a phenomenon now coined "Yusuf's Square Rule" within the family. In his spare time, he dabbles in sudokus and solves Rubik's cubes, which he does with much ease. 

His ultimate dream would be to study mathematics at Cambridge or Oxford, but meanwhile, he will be working on his creative writing skills for secondary school entrance exams.

Yusuf is definitely leading by example. His eight-year-old brother Khalid hopes to take the Mensa test when he's older. In the meantime, he's developed an interest in solving Rubik's cubes.

This article written by Deena Theresa and originally published in Interesting Engineering.