What Is The Highest IQ In The World Ever Recorded?

The Intelligence quotient, or “IQ,” has become a hot word in discussing a person’s mental abilities. By attempting to measure a person’s intelligence, a debate has been fueled about whether that person has any control over his IQ at all. Some believe that it may simply be influenced by the genes they inherit, while others believe that it is nourished through hard work as they grow older. Whatever may be the case, one thing is for sure. IQ is the best measure of intelligence, as of now.

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What is IQ?

Although we have often come across this term in the course of our lives, we still need to set some standards to distinguish good value from average.

The intelligence quotient is nothing other than the number a person achieves after taking one of the many standardized tests to measure the intelligence level of individuals. Originally, the intelligence quotient was calculated as a ratio of mental age to chronological age IQ = MA / CA x 100, where MA is mental age, CA is chronological age.

Today, however, intelligence values are calibrated with values of actual population values. Here’s a graph showing how people fare when they take an IQ test:

iq scores

This is, as you can see, a bell-shaped curve. It shows that most measurements fall in the middle and fall less at points further from the center. In our case, this means that most people’s IQ scores fall in and around the average range, while much fewer people score very low or very high.

The general score of 95% of the population from these tests ranges between 70 and 130. Since there are quite a few different classifications, the Stanford-Binet Scale of Human Intelligence is the most commonly used one, and we shall use that as a reference. According to this scale, people who have a score higher than 145 are considered geniuses.

You already saw the list of the people with the highest IQ in the world; let’s meet these geniuses, but please remember that IQ tests are not necessarily all that accurate in estimating someone’s overall intelligence, even if they are good markers for specific cognitive skills, such as mathematical ability and logical reasoning.

Also, note that this list is NOT exhaustive and may not include the name of every person with a high IQ.

Stephen Hawking (IQ Score: 160)

stephen hawking

Stephen Hawking (Image Source: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest minds, Stephen Hawking, was a professor, author, and world-renowned theoretical physicist. His book “A Brief History of Time” sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. He was also the undisputed champion of the study of black holes, which was also his specialty at the time of his death in March 2018. Hawking’s inspiring fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and immortal love of physics have earned him a reputation as a symbol of knowledge and intelligence in pop culture.

Paul Allen (IQ Score: 160-170)

paul allen

Paul Allen (Photo Credit: Google)

Paul Allen is one of the founders of tech giant Microsoft. He was born in 1953 in Seattle, USA, and became friends with Bill Gates while they were both at school. He quit his studies in 1974 and convinced Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard University too. The following year, they founded Microsoft – what’s now a multi-billion dollar tech giant. Paul is a well-known philanthropist, just like his friend and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.

Albert Einstein (IQ Score: 160-190)

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Speaking of “symbols of knowledge,” the name of this scientist is actually a synonym for genius. It cannot be denied that he shaped the future of science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering the law of the photoelectric effect. The theory of relativity was also his invention. Although there is no scientific method for calculating his IQ posthumously, researchers had to estimate his score by carefully analyzing his papers.

Judit Polgar (IQ Score: 170)

Judit Polgar

Chess Grandmasters rarely aren’t geniuses, and by rarely, I mean never. Judit Polgar became the youngest one at the age of 15 and still proudly holds that record. She is a pioneer for women in chess and one of the greatest chess players ever to live. She defeated Garry Kasparov, the reigning world champion, in 2002 and went on to conquer 10 other world championships.

John H. Sununu (IQ Score: 180)

john h sununu

John H. Sununu (Photo Credit: Discovery)

John Sununu was born in 1939 in Cuba, Havana. He then went on to study Mechanical Engineering at MIT. He got his doctorate in 1966. After his graduation, he worked as a professor at Tufts University till 1968, after which he was appointed as the associate dean of engineering. He held that position till 1973. He also served as the governor of New Hampshire and, in 1989, became the White House Chief of Staff.

Philip Emeagwali (IQ Score: 190)

philip emeagwali

Philip Emeagwali

Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian-born engineer, mathematician, computer scientist, and geologist. He left school at the early age of 13 due to the Nigerian-Biafran War. Through hard work and self-study, he earned a degree in Mathematics. He went on to win the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help detect petroleum fields. Even after facing rejection due to racial discrimination, he didn’t give up. He continued to inspire people worldwide by earning three Master’s degree in Mathematics, Environmental, and Marine Engineering from various universities.

Mislav Predavec (IQ Score: 190)

Mislav Predavec

Mislav Predavec

Mislav Predavec is a mathematics professor from Croatia who is said to have an IQ score of 190. He says: “I always felt I was one step ahead of others. As the school material grew, I simply solved the problems faster and better.” Predavec was born in Zagreb in 1967. He teaches at Zagreb’s Schola Medica Zagrabiensis.

He has also run a trading company since 1989. He founded an exclusive IQ society called GenerIQ, which is part of his broader IQ network. He says, “taking tough intelligence tests is his favorite hobby.”

Garry Kasparov IQ score: 194

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov

To be No. 1 in the world rankings 225 times in 228 months is no small achievement. Kasparov is a native Russian and is considered by some to be the greatest chess player of all time. As proof of his brilliance, he once tied a game with IBM’s Deep Blue, a chess computer that could calculate 100 million moves per second! He is also the proud record holder of the highest number of consecutive victories.

Christopher Michael Langan (IQ Score: 190-210)

Christopher Michael Langan

Christopher Michael Langan (Photo Credit: By TeaFoam / Flickr.com)

Christopher Langan, born in San Francisco, California, began speaking at the age of 6 months and taught himself to read at just 3. Langan has managed to achieve the perfect score on the SAT, even though he fell asleep during the exam! He is often hailed as the “smartest man in America.” He has also developed a theory called the “Cognitive-Theoretical Model of the Universe,” which is essentially concerned with “the relationship between mind and reality.”

Edith Stern (IQ Score: 200+)

edith stern

A 16-year-old Edith Stern teaching college trigonometry

Born in 1952 to Aaron Stern (a concentration camp survivor whose cancer treatment was paid for by Albert Einstein), Edith Stern communicated with cards when she was no older than 11 months. At 1, she could identify letters, and at 2, she could speak the entire alphabet. At 12, she had already attended college, and four years later, she taught trigonometry there. Her IQ is estimated at more than 200.

Kim Ung-Yong (IQ Score: 210)

Kim Ung-Yong

Kim Ung-Yong

Kim Ung-Yong was born in Korea in 1963 and began speaking at the age of six months. By the time he was three, Kim Ung-Yong was already able to read English, Korean, Japanese, and German. As if that wasn’t insane enough, he wrote poetry and had already completed two short stories by the age of four!

His drive and thirst for knowledge made him decline enrolment in Korea’s most prestigious university at the age of 16, and he instead started to pursue a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. He currently spends his time doing valuable research and teaching at Chungbuk National University in South Korea.

Christopher Hirata (IQ Score: 225)

Christopher Hirata

Christopher Hirata (Photo Credit: The Ohio State University)

A former child prodigy, Hirata became the youngest American to win a gold medal at the 1996 International Physics Olympics. He achieved the incredible feat when he was just 13 years old! At the age of 16, he was involved in a NASA project and graduated from the prestigious Princeton University at the young age of 22. He is currently a visiting professor of astronomy and physics at Ohio State University.

Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ Score: 228)


Marilyn Vos Savant (Photo Credit: Shelly Pippin / quotesgram.com)

Marilyn was born in 1946 in Missouri, USA. Believing that her premarital surnames should be kept, she kept her mother’s surname, Marina Vos Savant. As a teenager, she worked in her father’s store and wrote articles for local newspapers under other names. She became famous when she first entered the Guinness World Records “highest IQ” category in 1986 and remained there until 1989. She was said to have an IQ of 228.

However, a psychology professor and author of IQ tests called Alan Kaufman questioned this, claiming that:

Miss Savant was given an old version of the Stanford-Binet (Terman & Merrill 1937), which did, indeed, use the antiquated formula of MA/CA × 100. But in the test manual’s norms, the Binet does not permit IQs to rise above 170 at any age. So, the psychologist who came up with an IQ of 228 committed an extrapolation of a misconception, thereby violating almost every rule imaginable concerning the meaning of IQs.

Terence Tao (IQ Score: 225-230)

Terence Tao

Terence Tao (Photo Credit: UCLA Department of Mathematics)

Born into a Chinese family in 1975, Terence showed an extraordinary talent for mathematics at a very early age. The fact that he had started attending university-level mathematics courses should be proof enough of this. He had earned his doctorate at the age of only 20, and perhaps more importantly, he was the recipient of the Fields Medal in 2006. For the uninitiated, the Fields Medal can be considered the Nobel Prize equivalent in mathematics, but this award is given every four years. Tao resides in Los Angeles with his wife and kids and focuses on partial differential equations, algebraic combinatorics, harmonic analysis, and analytic number theory.

William James Sidis (IQ Score: 250-300… probably)

William James Sidis

William James Sidis

This man simply plays in a completely different league. Born in 1898 in New York City and raised in an intellectual family, he was gifted from the very beginning. At the age of 5, he operated a typewriter and learned Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German, and Hebrew. At the age of 6, he was refused admission to Harvard because he was considered too emotionally immature.

Later, at the age of 11, they had to take him in, and he gave his much-acclaimed first lecture on 4-dimensional physics! He was threatened by some fellow students at Harvard so that his parents put him in a teaching position in Texas. Due to this, he could not pursue academics and instead decided to focus on his political career. He died of a stroke at the age of 46 as a reclusive, penniless clerk.

It should be noted that the fact that he was the smartest man of all time is often called into question because William’s sister and mother had acquired a reputation for making exaggerated claims about the Sidis family. His sister told a famous psychologist and author Abraham Sperling that his brother had an IQ score of 250 +.

To quote Sperling, author of the 1946 book Psychology for the Millions:

Helena Sidis William’s sister told me that a few years before his death, her brother Bill took an intelligence test with a psychologist whose score was the highest ever. Regarding IQ, the psychologist said that the number would be between 250 and 300. William Sidis took general intelligence tests late in life for civil servants in New York and Boston. His phenomenal ratings are a matter of records.

However, Sperling never seems to have given Sidis an IQ test himself to test his IQ. If so, why didn’t he talk about it in A Story of Genius, which is basically Sterling’s account of Sidis’s intellectual abilities?

Apart from the controversy over Sidis “real IQ, he was undoubtedly a brilliant individual, a fact evidenced by the excellence he achieved so early in his life. It is impossible to say what Sidis would have achieved in mathematics and science if his talents had not been wasted.

Ainan Celeste Cawley (IQ Score: 263)


Ainan Celeste Cawley

Ainan Celeste Cawley (Photo Credit: Youtube)

Ainan Celeste Cawley was born in 1999. He has an IQ of 263! At the age of 7, Ainan became the youngest person in the world to pass Chemistry-O level. By the age of 8, he took Chemistry lectures at Singapore Polytechnic (an institution of higher learning in Singapore). He composes music and can recite Pi to 518 decimal places.

But wait a minute! Why couldn’t these people with extremely advanced IQ scores catch our interest? More importantly, what is IQ anyway? Did us not paying attention have anything to do with our own IQs? What does a high score on these tests really imply?

What is intelligence?

Intelligence is the ability of the human mind to gather and appropriately use information. Still, there is no consensus within the scientific community as to what kind of information this represents. Some theorists believe that all specific abilities are based on intelligence, while others believe that there are multiple intelligences.

pink color human brain with glasses hits with a hammer to measure level iq on(wowomnom)s

Debunking the concept of IQ (Photo Credit: wowomnom/ Shutterstock)

Charles Spearman, one of the early pioneers in the study of intelligence, said that general intelligence represented a person’s overall ability. This postulate was definitely supported by research, but there were many loopholes and nuances. Louis Thurstone openly opposed Spearman and suggested that intelligence was different for each ability.

Thus, for example, one could not predict a person’s mathematical ability based on his ability to speak.

Howard Garner said that there are eight different intelligences:

  1. linguistic
  2. logical-mathematical
  3. interpersonal
  4. intrapersonal
  5. special
  6. musical
  7. kinesthetic
  8. naturalistic

He based his idea on people with autism who had severe social deficits but displayed a high or even virtuosic ability in a particular domain (remember Forrest Gump?).

Forrest Gump was a movie about a boy who was constantly labelled as 'dumb' but had abilities surpassing the best of us

Forrest Gump was a movie about a boy who was constantly labeled as ‘dumb’ but had abilities surpassing the best of us (Photo Credit: Flickr)

Other theorists, such as Sternberg, were more general in their outlook, suggesting that intelligence should be divided into three main areas – creative, analytical, and practical.

Although these theories were used to improve school performance or measure students “abilities, the world needed a single number and standardized measure to represent intelligence.

How is intelligence tested?

The first-ever intelligence test was developed by Francis Dalton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. He based his test on trying to determine whether differences in intelligence are due to the environment or whether they are due to one’s genes.

However, this test had several disadvantages, and the test areas did not correlate with each other.

Much later, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon were commissioned to design a test for identifying “mentally subnormal” children in French schools, which was a ground-breaking development in the field of intelligence tests and remains the basis for it to this day.

Mental age is the functioning age of a child or a person. That is, if a seven-year-old could pass all the things that a five-year-old child could pass, then his mental age would be considered five years, while his chronological age would be seven years; you will see later why this is important.


The next innovation was the concept of standardization: the final IQ score would be calculated by comparing one’s performance with others of their age rather than a general number.

Binet’s concept of mental age was a pivotal moment in innovation, paving the way for determining a person’s intelligence quotient. William Stern told us that there was no point in determining a child’s mental age only if there was nothing to compare it to. Therefore, Stern compared a child’s mental age with his chronological age to guess his intelligence.

So if a ten-year-old child had an intellectual age of eight years, it was below average; if his intellectual age was ten years, it was average; and if his intellectual age was above ten years, it was considered above average.

Lewis Terman finally called this an “intelligence quotient” and presented the concept of IQ to the world. He revised the concept slightly and made the IQ a percentage.

The final formula used to calculate IQ is MA/CA*100, where MA is mental age and CA is chronological age.

This approach works until an individual reaches 17 or 18, but beyond that, it gives a rather skewed perspective. A more statistical approach was then adopted, where scores were converted into set scores to determine the final IQ score.

Visual intelligence questions(Visual intelligence questions(Emir Kaan)ss

What questions on intelligence tests look like (Photo Credit: Emir Kaan/ Shutterstock)

Currently, the Wechsler Scales, the Binet Kamet Test of Intelligence, MISIC, Raven’s Progressive Matrices, etc., are used to assess IQ. The questions on these scales are different for children and adults. These tests are composed of various subtests. For example, Wechsler’s consists of Information, Digit Span, Vocabulary, Arithmetic, Comprehension, Similarities, Picture Completion, Picture Design, Object Assembly, and Digit Symbol sub-tests.

What is considered a high IQ?

classification of iq

Classification of IQ Scores

If a person scores 120 or more points in an IQ test, they are said to have a high IQ; indeed, they are called “gifted.” A gifted person can exhibit various characteristics, such as exceptionally brilliant memory and vigilance, is deeply intuitive, can solve problems beyond his age, or has an enormous vocabulary. These characteristics vary from one individual to another.

It often happens that a student who is a daydreamer in class may be gifted but is in a class that is not challenging enough to raise his curiosity or engage him effectively.

How can you increase your IQ: 5 ways to improve your IQ score

Many people try to improve their IQ scores. Although some studies claim that IQ is hereditary and relatively stable throughout a person’s life, others claim that it can be improved. How you ask?

As we said, IQ is a comprehensive value, so we can increase it overall by increasing the factors that contribute to it.

Education – Some studies suggest that the more time we spend at school or in the learning process, the more we can increase our IQ.

Exercise – This is more of a biological reason. Working out increases blood flow to the brain, which means an increase in oxygen. This causes the brain to be more active, and its cognitive skills are generally enhanced.

Learning a new language – Learning a second language causes the brain to use its thinking skills, associating skills, memory and retrieval skills, and decision-making skills.

Meditation – We have all heard psychologists talk about the use of meditation because the potential benefits of this practice are immense. Indeed, recent studies have shown that meditation increases the brain’s plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to regenerate. In turn, this increases our ability to retain information and boosts our overall cognitive ability.

Brain Training Programs – These programs have been called out by many researchers as unreliable. They argue that once a person knows he will be “brain trained”, the hope of it working automatically boosts performance, similar to a placebo effect. Many brain training programs do lead to a significant increase in a person’s performance, as they help people utilize more parts of the brain than normal.

Does ‘high IQ’ mean academic or professional success?

A high IQ is not an indicator of academic success or professional success. In fact, Richard Lobe and Nathan Leopold had IQ scores of 169 and 210; Jeffry Dahmer and Ted Bundy had IQ scores of 145 and 136, respectively. If you wonder who these people are, they are some of the most ruthless serial killers in the world. Lobe and Leopold believed that their “intellectual superiority” helped them carry out their murders with the utmost ease.

Researcher Stephen Gourd believed that general Intelligence is a mathematical artifact rather than anything else. Intelligence is undoubtedly important, but rational thinking skills such as judgment and decision-making are equally important, and intelligence values do not encompass any of these areas.

If intelligence tests are not fully valid, how can intelligence best be determined?

The “emotional quotient,” a person’s ability to understand one’s own emotions and those of others, has recently been gaining attention in the psychological community. It can predict one’s work performance, leadership skills, and mental health.

Can you answer 3 questions about Human IQ?

Can you answer three questions based on the article you just read?

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About the Author

Harsh Gupta graduated from IIT Bombay, India with a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering. His pedantic and ‘know-it-all’ nature made it impossible for him not to spread knowledge about (hopefully) interesting topics. He likes movies, music and does not shy away from talking and writing about that too.

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