Here Is The Highest Possible IQ And The People Who Hold The World Record

Albert Einstein has one of the highest IQs ever recorded, sitting between 160 and 190

Everyone with an IQ score higher than 110 is lucky enough to have an above average intelligence. But there are select individuals with the fortune of much higher IQ scores. Only a minority of people are able to score higher than 110 on an IQ test, which makes it easy to identify the true geniuses in our society (according to this test).

Some of these exceedingly smart people are better known to the general public than others, I’m sure you’ve heard of Albert Einstein but have you heard of Christopher Hirata? These lesser known individuals deserve recognition and that’s what we hope to do here.

What Is IQ?    

Back in 1916, the American psychologist Lewis Madison Terman (1877-1956) developed the intelligence quotient or IQ. At the time, Lewis was employed by the United States Army. The first mass IQ test was taken by US soldiers during World War I.

The original scale of IQ scores, as devised by Terman, proposes several different classifications.

According to Terman’s scale, anyone with a score under 70 is classified as “definite feeble-minded”; anyone with a score between 70 and 79, would have “borderline deficiency”; anyone with a score between 80-89 would be afflicted with dullness. Most people have a score between 90 and 109, which means that they are classed as having a normal or average intelligence.

Intelligence quotient (IQ)Interesting Facts
Founded byPsychologist William Stern
Original nameIntelligenzquotient
Developed1912
Median score (theoretical)100
Two-thirds of populationIQ between 85 and 115
2.5% of populationAbove 130
2.5% of populationBelow 75

Once you get an IQ score of 110 you begin to take note. A score between 110 and 119 would indicate a superior intelligence; a score between 120 and 140 would mean a very superior intelligence; a score over 140 would indicate genius or near genius.

What is the highest theoretical IQ Possible?

While some of the scores below lie well above an IQ of 200, there is a debate about whether an IQ above 200 is theoretically possible (practicable). When the IQ test was developed the mean of the normal distribution was arbitrarily placed at 100. This means the normal distribution of intelligence of the human species should center at 100. If you’re below 100, you’re less intelligent than average and above 100 the opposite (note that is just for this test). The IQ score moves 15 points in either direction with each standard deviation.

IQ range normal distribution in human population (Credit: onlinestatbook.com)

However, with a standard deviation of 15, the chance that one would have an IQ of 200 makes it nearly impossible. Given a rough estimate of the world population of 7 billion, one can back-calculate what IQ is expected for the “smartest person on the planet” given the normal distribution.

This would equate to an IQ of about 194.6 as the highest IQ out of the approximately 7 billion people on this planet. Hence, we recommend taking some of the numbers below with a grain of salt. It is also hard to calculate IQ scores with high precision and accuracy in the infinitesimally small tail ends of the IQ distribution.

highest IQ possible (one in 7 billion)

Who Are The People Holding The World Record For High IQ?

The person with the highest IQ ever recorded is William James Sidis with a score between 250 and 300. The list continues as follows with the highest possible IQ:

  • Terence Tao (IQ score between 225 and 230)
  • Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ score of 228)
  • Christopher Hirata (IQ score of 225)
  • Kim Ung-Yong (IQ score of 210)
  • Edith Stern (IQ score over 200)
  • Christopher Michael Langan (IQ score between 190 and 210)
  • Garry Kasparov (IQ score of 194)
  • Philip Emeagwali (IQ score of 190)
  • Judit Polgar (IQ score of 170)
  • Albert Einstein (IQ score between 160 and 190)
  • Stephen Hawking (IQ score of 160)

William James Sidis (IQ score between 250-300)

This American was born into a family of New York City intellectuals. William James Sidis (1898 – 1944) was gifted from an extremely young age. When he was only 5 years old he was already able to type and had learned several languages including Greek, Latin, French, Hebrew, Russian, German, and, of course, English.

After he was initially turned down when he was 6, William was finally admitted to Harvard University at the age of 11. He didn’t have an easy time in college, later moving to Texas where he became a teacher. He attempted a political career but died young (at age 46), penniless.

Terence Tao (IQ score between 225 and 230)

This Australian-American mathematician was born in 1975 in the Australian city of Adelaide. His parents emigrated from Hong Kong to Australia.

Tao showed an amazing aptitude for math when he was a child. By the age of 20, he’d already earned a Ph.D.

He was awarded several prestigious math awards, including the Fields Medal in 2006. He currently lives in Los Angeles, California where he works at UCLA.

Marilyn Vos Savant (IQ score of 228)

This American entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the person with the highest IQ back in 1986. To this day there are only two other people with a recorded higher IQ than her.

“Although spoken English doesn’t obey the rules of written language, a person who doesn’t know the rules thoroughly is at a great disadvantage.” – Marilyn Vos Savant.

Marilyn Vos Savant was born in Missouri in 1946. She is most famous for her column “Ask Marilyn” where she provides advice and counsel to all sorts of life dilemmas.

Christopher Hirata (IQ score of 225) 

Like Terence Tao, Christopher Hirata (1982) was considered a child prodigy. He is an American astronomy professor at Ohio State University.

Among his many achievements are getting a gold medal at the International Physics Olympiad in 1996 at the age of 13, working for NASA at the age of 16, and getting a Ph.D. from Princeton when he was 22.

Kim Ung-Yong (IQ score of 210)

This Korean professor and researcher currently working at Chungbuk National University learned to speak when he was just 6 months old. At that young age he could only speak his native Korean but by the age of 6, he learned how to read several languages including Korean, English, German, and Japanese.

Kim Ung-Yong began to write at the age of four and earned a Ph.D. when he was just 16 years old.

Edith Stern (IQ score of more than 200)

Edith Stern, born in 1952, is an engineer and IBM inventor with a Ph.D. in Math.

When Edith Stern was only 11 months old she was able to communicate using cards, then at the age of one, she began to be able to identify some of the letters in the Latin alphabet. By the age of 2, she knew the entire alphabet.

She entered college when she was 12 and became a teacher at age 16.

Christopher Michael Langan (IQ score between 190 and 210)

Californian resident Christopher Michael Langan (1952) is best known for his “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe” theory.

He was able to speak when he was only 6 months old and was a self-taught reader at age 3.

Garry Kasparov (IQ score of 194) 

Garry Kasparov was born in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan in 1963.

“I started playing chess when I was five years old. I learned the moves from my mother, then worked with my father – and later trainers. My style became very technical. I sacrificed a lot of things. I was always hunting for the king, for the mate. I’d forget about my other pieces”. – Garry Kasparov.

He is famous for being the best chess player of all time, winning more chess games than anyone else. Garry became the youngest World Chess Champion in 1985 when he was 22 years old. In a highly publicized match, Garry lost to the IBM supercomputer nicknamed Deep Blue.

Philip Emeagwali (IQ score of 190)

This Nigerian born computer scientist, mathematician, engineer, and geologist has several postgraduate degrees from different universities.

At age 13 his schooling was suspended due to the Nigerian Civil War as he was enrolled in the Biafran army. He earned his high school diploma through self-study afterward.

Judit Polgar (IQ score of 170)

This Hungarian chess player was born in 1976. Judit Polgar became a chess grandmaster when she was only 15.

Judit was a child prodigy, taking part in chess tournaments at 6 years old. She is now considered to be one of the strongest female chess players of all time.

The other two notable IQ test record-holders are none other than scientist Albert Einstein (with an IQ score between 160 and 190), and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (with an IQ of 160).

Is It Possible To Increase Your IQ Score?

There are definite, science-backed methods to improve your IQ score. Keep in mind this won’t bring you from below average to genius. Most likely, this will help you increase your score by a few points on average. While that may not seem like a lot, the steps below will help keep you sharp and focused, even at an older age.

  • Be healthy, for your brain to function at peak level you should exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep.
  • Try to change your daily routine, if you always take a shower before brushing your teeth try to swap them around, this will keep your brain active and involved.
  • Meditating, regardless of what it looks like for you, helps you relax, increase blood flow to the brain and let your brain focus more intently on solving difficult tasks.
  • There are a variety of supplements, including caffeine, omega 3 fatty acids, creatine, and ginkgo that can help with cognition and learning.
  • Practice challenging your mind through solving word puzzles, reading, learning a new hobby or skill, etc. The brain is not a static organ, it can grow more powerful with exercise, same as weightlifting.
  • New experiences, traveling, and doing new daily tasks helps to expand your mind and allow it to be constantly challenged in new environments.

These are the highest possible IQ scores and the people who hold the world record. Have you taken an IQ test, if so, leave your IQ in the comments below? If anyone has a score of 109, then kudos!

Written By
More from Juan Ramos

Fix Error Code DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN Once And For All

The DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error is one of the most common DNS errors for...
Read More
Opinions expressed are solely the authors and do not express the views or opinions of Science Trends nor the author's institution.

53 Comments

  • I have a question do you remember me at the feeling station you told me you didn’t understand me when I was talking perfect English maybe I was slurring a little bit but you said it was because the music was loud most likely only to not make me feel bad but I like people that is real so tell me how high do you think my IQ is

  • The author of this article does not understand what IQ represents. Every 15 IQ points is one standard deviation above the mean. This makes IQ in excess of 200 mathematically impossible. An IQ of 160 represents a 50000-1 intellect likely the highest anyone is likely to meet in a lifetime. An IQ of 175 is 3.5 million to 1. Anything beyond this is an exercise in futility. e.g. we can assume 225 to be the IQ of God.

    • According to your math, an IQ of 200 would be around 245 million – 1. There are about 7 billion people in the world meaning there are approximately 28 people in the world with an IQ of around 200. There have been about 100 billion humans alive in the history of humanity meaning there would be approximately 408 humans in the history of the world with an IQ of around 200 or higher. While higher IQs probably are impossible according to this math, the math of IQs is still something we don’t fully understand. Next time think before you try to discredit someone.

    • I was wondering if anyone reading this might be able to answer a question I have about 2 people who died in recent history, but were both widely known. They both died in their mid 20s sadly The first being a researching harvard fellow by the name of Aaron Swartz. Died at the age of 26 in 2013. I simply seem unable to find out what his was, and his wiki should be updated with it. Because of where he got in life and accomplished by the age of 26, I think he might deserve an honorable mention.

      Then their is the 25 year old who died back in 1996 that even over 20 years after his death still carrys a net worth of 40million. He grew up without even power during school. Yet was on a path of becoming a great leader. I’m talking about Tupac Shakur. Who showed great leadership potential every time he spoke trying to bridge the division in society for a better life for all. In 1992 he and Dr. Mutulu Shakur not only wrote the Document called “Thug Life” but he got the 2 outlaw gangs in cali to aggree to it. As it was a set of rules and ethics to protect the Community that was not involved with their illegal activities. http://mutulushakur.com/site/1992/08/code-of-thug-life/ There’s a link if you would like to read the code yourself.

      I suggest Tupac because on answers.com they state his IQ being 159(prob an est), and his success with his choosen profession and community. Also the fact, he left behind a impact that is still highly spoken of today and worth 40million. All done in his short 25 years.

      Stil can’t find anything on Aarons IQ though.

  • To author Juan Ramos:
    Dear Mr. Ramos:
    If you are going to post “English” articles, you should have a native English speaker and writer edit your posts. While I appreciate your insights in the “Highest Recorded IQ” piece, some of your paragraphs are un-readable in English. Over the years I’ve noted that the Spanish construction of “store to I go” –
    (which includes the gender of the speaker), does not convert naturally into the English: “I’m going to the store,” or “I went to the store,” or “I have been to the store,” or “She is going to the store.”

    My observations for native Spanish speakers, who learn ONLY conversational English, is that they make the mistakes you made in your enlightening article, e.g. Missing prepositions and conjunctions; along with mistakes in sentence structure. I suggest you take an English class where you are taught how to “diagram sentences” in English.

    I can testify that after two such errors on a website, your efforts to influence readers will fail because English writers and speakers DECIDE – at that point – that it is a Third World author, “So why waste my time?” After 25-years on the Internet, we – (Americans) – have all gotten the Nigerian composed Email about the millions of dollars we can collect by paying a minor tax fee… written so poorly in English that we know to INSTANTLY dismiss it.

    This DECISION is also made about native Asian Language speakers when we encounter similar subtle mistakes in the construction of English sentences. To prove my point, buy ANY Asian manufactured and packaged product and read the “Consumer Instruction Booklet.” Their English is almost ALWAYS convoluted, and – thus – un-readable…. Which means that North Americans simply dismiss the author as “Uneducated” and “Third World” …. EVEN if your IQ is 160!!!

    I know that sounds arrogant, but just as I could not be a diplomat in the Eighteenth Century without speaking French, you cannot negotiate the 21st Century successfully without speaking –
    (and writing) – English. Today, English is the universal language of Higher Education, Science, Pilots, Accountants, Bankers, and Diplomats.

    I hope this helps. Bill Ball

      • While I believe that everyone needs an editor–and every website should employ one–it is indeed unfortunate that you would offer such a polite reply to such an unnecessarily racist comment. Of course non-native English speakers make mistakes. Those of us who learn languages other than our own always do. The poster himself makes numerous errors in punctuation and syntax, yet believes himself right to go on at length about the implications of non-native speakers’ errors. How typical.

      • Further, the fact that the author’s name is Juan Ramos in no way allows readers to assume *anything* about him.

        I work as a professional editor and encounter atrocious grammar, a complete lack of coherence, and seeming unfamiliarity with even the basics of punctuation on a weekly basis from English-speaking Americans–and never mind their lack of interest in trying to learn other languages. And yet, they’ll gleefully pronounce non-native speakers unworthy of expressing themselves in English because they make mistakes.

        I applaud that you went through and cleaned up the article. More websites should do so! But I’m actually appalled that you would respond to the poster as if he is just making a simple “helpful” observation.

    • Store to I go too also, to ball Bill. Bill is no go to ball with laugh be he bill and no ball. Must go I to newspeak then English where say he “Engrish” to?

    • I would be happy to hear your perfect speaking in Spanish and other languages of the world, you proud “English Native Speaker” Unfortunately, a big % of “Natives”, like you, seems to have too low IQ to understand speaking which is even 1promille different that speaking of Queen Elizabeth… Not to mention that the most stupid, obvious mistakes in language ALWAYS come from so called “Native Speakers”, such proud to have “perfect” language. Time for a bit of humility, Mr Englishman. From where you take this conviction that perfect speaking and writing in yours and ONLY YOURS language is a crown of the intelligence?

  • When I was one and half years old, I behaved very differently from other todlers. My mom worried that I was retarded so she took me to do an IQ test. The score was 145 and the doctor assured my mom that there was nothing wrong with me. But life has never been easy for me. I’m from a culture that doesn’t tolerate “difference” much. You could possibly imagine how much pain I have been through as a high IQ but very low EQ “abnormal”. If I could have chosen, I’d rather choose the opposite.

    • I feel your pain. I went through the same things, though I was able to blend in a little by trying to appear less intelligent most of the time. I was always struggling with emotional control, and still do to this day, but have learned much wisdom over the years. It gets better.

  • I have an IQ of 148 but have never completed a course in education. I was just in an ordinary class during primary education and found it incredibly frustrating. I would read all the text books in the first week of the new term each year and spend the rest of the year bored out of my mind. By the time I was 12 I just stopped going in as I found it so frustrating. There are so many extra helps for those who have learning difficulties etc, but people like me fell through the cracks. Now in middle age, I see people I went to school with doing really well in their careers and driving nice cars while I still work in manual labour. I used to teach these guys mathematics during break times. If I could afford to get more education I would, but am economically trapped and probably will remain so.
    The moral of the story : stay in school…

  • My IQ is 151 and I turn 13 in a month. I found out through the test for gifted at my school because we have a certified psychologist do it.

  • It’s funny seeing all the 13 year olds explaining how their IQ is 160, but don’t realive that looking up free IQ test isn’t going to give you an accurate representation of your acual score.

  • I tested in school at 148, then got the same score 20 years later.
    Not bothered testing in the last ten, but I’m sure that it can’t have deviated too much.

  • I’ve done mensa.no’s online home test and got a score of 138 which would at the time qualify me for mensa. Too scared to do the supervised one in fear of scoring worse though 🙁

  • Dear Juan,

    what are your sources for the listed IQ numbers? More specifically, where did you get the number 190 for Philip Emeagwali?

    Thanks.

  • There are quite a few articles out there expressing doubt about the Emeagwali score; though my cursory glance at them did not show what I would regard as any good authorities disproving the claim, they do raise the legitimate question what the source is which is claimed to prove it for the purposes of this article.

  • My IQ was tested twice at 174, & my wife’s at 172. We’re both long-time engineers, & run our two corporations.

  • My IQ is 183 to 190 and it all self tough from playing guitar keyboards. To being a electronic, s tec to a vast understanding of law .ect its up to the person to expand their mind most schooling can’t give you all you need to be smart. It only helps to a point

  • To my surprise i got an IQ of 234. I was tested at a special facility meant for psychological mind inputs.

  • To the people saying that the highest possible IQ correlates to the size of the population… sigh.. No. No it doesn’t. That’s not what the standard deviation is telling you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *