Who Had The Highest IQ Ever Recorded?


Intelligence is a fascinating, though complex subject, and it’s one that is difficult to study for that reason. Researchers have developed IQ tests to try and create some kind of objective, quantitative measure of human intelligence. Despite their many flaws, IQ tests present a clear quantitative bell curve with 95% of their participants scoring within a range of 70 to 130.

There are a couple different classifications of IQ scores. One common classification is Wechsler’s, which ranks 90-109 as the true average. 120-129 is High, and 130 and over is “Gifted.” 80-89 is Low Average, 70-79 is “Borderline,” and below 69 is “Extremely Low.” The Stanford-Binet Scale of Human Intelligence rates those with scores 145 and above as Genius.

So who has the highest IQ ever recorded? Unfortunately it is a little difficult to actually answer this question with a specific name, though there are several contenders for the highest IQ in the world. The reason it is tough to give a really firm answer to this question is that the test really was designed with the regular population in mind. Individuals who rank as extreme outliers are all so far removed from the normal population that a separate test would really need to be developed to sort these people according to their own gifts.

Nonetheless the following geniuses have been widely credited as having the highest IQs ever.

  1. William Sidis, USA, 250-300 (estimated)
  2. hris Langan, USA, 243
  3. Paul Johns, UK, 240
  4. Rolf Mifflin, USA, 238
  5. Andreas Gunnarsson, Sweden, 235
  6. Thomas R. A. Wolf, Germany 235
  7. Evangelos G. Katsioulis, Greece, 235
  8. Scott Durgin, USA, 235
  9. Marilyn vos Savant, USA, 228

Marilyn vos Savant

marilyn bio photo

Marilyn vos Savant (Photo credit: marilynvossavant.com)

She’s at the bottom of the list above, but she’s still one of the most famous contenders. In fact, she’s probably more famous than the guy who actually appears to win the high IQ contest. Marilyn vos Savant was born in St. Louis, MO in 1946, and works as a magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright. Her main claim to fame was her entry (in 1985) into the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest IQ. She studied philosophy in school, despite her parents’ objections that it was a useless topic. She briefly delved into the family investment business before deciding to pursue her passion for writing. Guinness itself no longer maintains a record for IQ holders, since as of 1990 they determined that indeed the measurement could not really determine a “winner.”

She is well known for her solutions to a couple of different logic problems. The most well known is the Monty Hall problem. In short, you are at a game show, and you are shown three doors and told to pick one. One of the doors hides a car, while two hide goats. The host opens one of the other doors, revealing a goat. Then he asks if you want to stick with the door you chose or switch to the other. Savant argued that switching ups the odds of winning the car. In response, she received thousands of letters arguing it makes no difference.

Savant’s logic goes as follows. The role of the host is important and often overlooked. The initial choice presented gives the contestant a 1/3 chance of picking a car and a 2/3 chance of picking a goat. If a contestant picks a goat door, the host, who knows this, is forced to open the particular other door which hides a goat, and not the one that hides the car. If the player chooses the car door initially, switching the bet will result in a loss, but this can only happen 1/3 of the time. This means that contestants who switch must have a 2/3 chance of winning the car (if you are like me, you can run this around in your brain for the rest of the day; if you are like Savant and understand it straight away, congratulations).

William James Sidis

William James Sidis' Harvard graduation photo

William James Sidis’ Harvard graduation photo

William James Sidis comes closest to achieving the highest IQ ever recorded, even though technically his IQ was undeterminable. Born in New York City in 1898, he was a child prodigy. He could read a newspaper at 18 months, and apparently knew eight languages by the age of eight, and invented his own language to top it off. He was a well-known war draft protestor during WWI, and nearly went to prison for it. Instead, he ended up spending a year in a sanatorium, as arranged by his parents.

When Sidis was tested for an IQ score, he was apparently off the charts—literally. After his death, Abraham Sperling, director of New York City’s Aptitude Testing Institute, stated that he “easily had an IQ between 250 and 300.” IQ tests worked a bit differently in those days. That translated to saying that his intellectual age was 2.5-3 times his actual age. The veracity of the claim has been debated (as has its meaning) in the years since his death. So while he has quite a legacy and he was certainly brilliant, it is again hard to quantify his intelligence.

Criticisms of IQ as a Measure of IntelligenceCritics of IQ tests point out that they are not only nebulous, but also dismissive of other types of intelligence. People with high intellectual capacity for math and language may fail in other areas, such as emotional intelligence. It also isn’t uncommon for a very smart person to fail utterly at common sense.

There is also the matter of commitment; the test looks for speed, whereas true brilliance often is the work of a lifetime. And then there are very brilliant people who do not even have IQs that are sky high. Stephen Hawking’s IQ is reportedly around 160. Genius level, certainly, but way below 200. His Mensa score is much higher, but it just goes to show, there are many aspects of genius that are immeasurable.

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  1. Ahosaphat Lence

    April 12, 2014 at 12:23 am

    This article gives no sources to back up its claims. It lists Chris Langan’s score as 243, where other sources give it as 195-210.

  2. ben

    May 17, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    mine is 165…. is that good?

    • Anonymous

      September 30, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      You’re an idiot for many reasons,
      But mainly you’re obviously an attention seeker!

      Ps. If you’re iq was that high you would be asking that question.

      • KeiKei90

        October 1, 2014 at 6:21 am

        While my IQ may not be up there…I’m smart enough to SO agree with you. He’s an attention sponge.

        • steve

          January 22, 2015 at 6:34 am

          You left out the previously stated truth that Ben is indeed, an idiot. His IQ might be 165 but unfortunately in his case it has nothing to do with intelligence. It is his Idiot quotient.

      • Arjun Mayilvaganan

        October 25, 2014 at 12:34 pm

        Perfectly said!

      • Kubrick

        December 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm

        There is couple of possibilities. He is genius and are playing with and provoke you to call him idiot to show that the real idiots are you. Or that he is and idiot, and thus making you even more idiot to respond to his message. Either way, it is rarely intelligent action to call anybody an idiot.. Lets call this comment the exception..

        Hell, maybe he really was genius to provoke this conversation to demonstrate a point :)

        • raoul tesla

          January 22, 2015 at 5:20 am

          @Kubrik, you should look in the mirror and consider the eyes a staring back genius.

    • KeiKei90

      October 1, 2014 at 6:32 am

      Put your flag down. People with high IQ’s…usually have more pressing concerns. And asking the world if they rank??…isn’t one of them. Try 16.5?

    • Jack Johnson

      November 22, 2014 at 5:43 am

      that obviously good look it up before you ask, your just trying to get attention.

      also the average is around 100, and that took me about under a minute to look up fyi

    • Wilbur Furce

      January 12, 2015 at 2:16 am

      Yeh, It’s good, You are a genius. And did not know it. That is not good. Are you sure your score isn’t 65?

    • Christopher J. Johnson

      January 26, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Ignore the other comment, the person did not bother with your age, or to ask you if you have just now gotten to being curious about the subject. In short, they judged and are now, with equal measure, being judged. Now, a score of 160 on an accredited, Dr. Ordered, test of cognitive ability, would categorize you as ‘gifted’, or ‘very superior’. However, please note that nearly all online tests are pathetic advertising gimmicks, meant to inflate your confidence so that you’ll take up a predatory loan for college. I would not count any score offerrd by them.

      • Azone'Rimm

        January 29, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        Exactly Christopher. MOST of the world decries ‘high’ intelligence because MOST of the world has ‘average’ intelligence. Even thoughtful parents of gifted children will rightfully NOT (at the least OVER-) emphasize their child’s gift, nor detract from it. I would expect many would make nothing of it, which would explain Ben’s query. Perhaps he became aware of his ‘score’, but without a context or research (to be fair, how likely would it be that he’s posting here online but hasn’t bothered to look it up? Yeah. But, to continue…) for reference, he could conceivably NOT know if 165 is high or not. One cannot forget that someone of ‘high’ intelligence AND at least an average degree of humility (yes, it’s entirely possible, if not probable) may only consider that to be a fact, not bragging rights since there could be no need to brag. For the most part, only those who fall short in some way feel the need to brag on their self-percieved or desired attributes. To wit, the ‘School Bully’, for one. And as for ‘Dag’, below, it is also entirely possible for one to state as fact one’s penis size without amplification. His statement in this context must be taken as fact that his is definitely NOT seven inches, and unlikely even near that (and certainly not longer).

    • Vicki

      February 25, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      Ben – do you also go by the name Rini?

    • -_-

      March 13, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      If you have an IQ of 165 then you would probably be able to read the third sentence of the article and figure it out.

  3. dag

    August 29, 2014 at 6:51 am

    My penis is seven inches

    • KeiKei90

      October 1, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Amazing…!!!! You’re IQ is the same number….7. And I think you broken a record for the lowest one yet. You genius you!!

      • Dan

        October 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm

        Your* Who’s stupid now?

        • Daniel

          October 10, 2014 at 8:49 am

          And the answer to your question is you, Dan.

          • grammarmarm

            November 2, 2014 at 7:26 am

            Um… Did you really just try and correct him by stating wrong grammar?

            It’s your in this context.

      • -_-

        March 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm

        KeiKei90’s grammar is wrong. He/She used a conjunction that means “you are.” So his/her sentance basically meant “You are IQ is the same number….7.” It should have been “Your IQ is the same number….7.” The word “your” is possessive,

    • steve

      January 22, 2015 at 6:38 am

      That is because you keep getting it caught in the bathroom door.

  4. Robert

    October 14, 2014 at 4:53 am

    This article over looks several componants. It is a direct cut and paste from another list, who’s site I will not link. The list was posted by them in 2011. The test applied to Sidi was the MA/CA × 100. The same as applied to Miss Savant. The test was proven antiquated and inaccurate by LARGE measures.
    Several of the people on this list were judged by the Hoeflin’s Mega Test which is scoffed at these days.

    If the writer did actually care…and had actual writting skill, he would have done his leg work, rather than PLAGIARIZING his data and palming it off as fact, which it is not
    Not a single person, in that list, is over 190 by today’s testing standard. When all things are taken into consideration and tests rebuked and addressed, Kim Ung-Yong is the holder of the highest IQ. Hell, no one on that list even hits Rick Rosner’s score as far as I am concerned. By using the same data that was applied to several people on this list, you may as well add Davinci and Aristotle :)

    • E

      November 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      I agree, though with countless exceptions I can only touch on here and there, but don’t have the time or communicative intelligence to express everything that comes up in my mind while reading the article and your comment. Since we didn’t test someone like Sidis with the tests of today or tomorrow, we can’t say he wouldn’t test as high as Ung-Yong or Rosner. Lack of evidence proves we don’t know, not that it “can’t be”… one of the most common (and atrocious) mistakes many scientists make today.
      This site reels me in with interesting subjects, then (as you wrote) they are sometimes terribly explained and written. I can’t believe the vague tangled mess they sometimes make out of some tasty ideas.
      Back to the excuses and exceptions… I could figure out ratio and statistic-type problems easily up until I was about 21 years old, and I never had a genus IQ… only considered “gifted” on Wechsler’s test. What caused me to get more and more confused on that and many other type of quiz or problem after 21 years or so, is a mystery but I have ideas. It leads to only more questions about intelligence that the article (I must give credit) at least touched on where most people immediately dismiss. The very first sentence is in the “hard to measure” and complex” vein, and I find that most other people rather have number or measurement so they can go on their merry way, delusional that they have “an answer” about someone’s intelligence. Humans love finite answers and hardly have the patience anymore to think about what I’m writing.
      I received some damage from the first gulf war, and I also had many personal problems snowball on me right around that same age, affecting me emotionally and even physically. And those problems fed each other.
      I also developed a habit of thinking deeper and deeper about everything, every point leading up to every concern, until I became the way I am today; orally pausing and undecided when speaking, so people mistake my thoughtful ways to be the opposite… to them any change of mind or pondering suggests stupidity. Their attitudes have been exacerbated with the popularity of the (rather inaccurate) way the internet and vague,”neato” ways to communicate with texts, etc… have hurried their lives.
      So does the damage I have, and the habits of thought, possibly from the way I was berated as a child, snowballed to blocks on my mental performance? When I was passing mensa tests read to me from the N.Y. times as a kid, I knew I couldn’t be an idiot. Yet I don’t even want to try those tests now.
      Apply that and many other real-life, undetectable unfortunate obstacles that may be happening to others while being tested and judged, and you have to conclude IQ tests and other assessments are loaded with trouble. I agree it’s interesting and maybe necessary in some situations to use tests like those to get an idea of what you’re dealing with, but sad as it may be, we are not giving some people even close to a chance to show what they’re capable of ( I know I certainly didn’t live up to it), and we are also over-rating some supposed “geniuses” and wrongly giving them too much respect and attention. They often lead us to terrible situations that need multiple repairs, especially when we assume their fast answers must mean “ease” with accuracy.

      • Gia

        January 20, 2015 at 8:14 am

        I could read what you write/say all day! I found your response to be very intelligent and interesting. I once upon a time had a measured IQ of 141, but now with all my physical and emotional problems over the last 5 1/2 yes find that I now think more on things before answering or taking action. Thank you for your comments and insight.

        • Christopher J. Johnson

          January 26, 2015 at 10:28 pm

          Damage to the parietal lobe has been known to coincide with significant cognitive growth in certain areas of ability, such as mathematical ability. You mention injury in the service, so I thought the above may be germain.

      • -_-

        March 13, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        You sound like me and I like you.

  5. Elvis

    October 22, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Elvis Presley IQ 5000 – USA – invented Rock and Roll
    Obama – IQ 6000 – USA/Kenia – invented the Obamacare

    • grammarmarm

      November 2, 2014 at 7:28 am

      Actually, conservatives invented the core of what came to be known as Obamacare in the 1990s as a market-based alternative to government-run healthcare.

      • -_-

        March 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        I wonder is it will still be called Obamacare when a new president is elected… Sorry is the answer to this question is obvious.

    • A.N.N

      December 25, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Ok, are you really that idiotic or are you just trying to get attention

    • -_-

      March 13, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      To Elvis: I’m not sure what you meant by “Kenia,” and I’m sure you didn’t mean the Brazilian Jazz Singer, but if you meant the country it is spelled “Kenya.” I should know because I named my bird after that country.

      BTW Obama is from Hawaii.

      PS: I know I shouldn’t take your comment seriously but still I find myself doing so. Sorry…

  6. Samrawit Mulugeta

    November 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Well ,I am inspired of finding out about IQ.Inform me more !

  7. friday gideon

    November 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    with all the high IQ whatz have they achieved in life?

  8. Erin

    December 16, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Oh “E”. Thank you for your service, but please get some mental health counseling. Good luck.

  9. midi510

    December 28, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I see IQ as a parallel for a computer’s processor power, comprised of the two aspects of clock speed and data bandwidth. The faster one can process information factored with the amount of information one can hold in mind at once, gives one’s mental power, but says nothing about what one does with that power. An extra intelligent person applying his/her mental power to artistic, spiritual, or common everyday matters is unlikely to get much attention for their intelligence.

    Interesting that the tests to determine the smartest people are, no doubt, developed by people of much more modest intelligence.

    Having an IQ higher than 90-95% of the population is a hindrance to success in the world, since the world is “set up” for the average bloke. The experience of one of lower intelligence is that of living in a world of smart people. The experience of one of unusually high intelligence is that of living in a world of dumb people, where that person is not well understood.

  10. chris Atieno

    January 5, 2015 at 10:01 am

    What i do not like about such statistics is that all good things, bright people are white. Don’t you think that other parts of the world have bright people too? The only advantage you guys have is that you have all these systems and channels that identify, nature and boost some of these talents. I will tell you for a fact in Kenya we have some of the brightest minds in the world. But unfortunately we pass most of them as psychiatric cases.

  11. M

    January 7, 2015 at 12:10 am

    To comment on “The experience of one of unusually high intelligence is that of living in a world of dumb people, where that person is not well understood.” –unless your IQ is well matched with your EQ (my case), whereby you do not care about people not understanding you but rather spend most of your energy every day helping people around you. Once you reach a certain point, you understand there was a purpose to making you with the IQ you have, and the purpose was not your being self-centered. The working solution truly is to live for others and be here for them. Your IQ gives you the tools very few have. As said above, what matters is what you do with the mental power. You can actually “grow” a kind heart even if you do not initially have it. Fingers crossed for all of you out there with high IQ to realize how rewarding it is to be here for those who may need you.

    • steve

      January 22, 2015 at 6:50 am

      My sister was measured at IQ 140. She has made a mess of her lazy life; she never accomplished or finished anything. My parents made it clear to us that it was not the IQ, it was the ‘I Will’ that counts in life.
      They were right.

      • -_-

        March 13, 2015 at 10:12 pm

        Sad that she wastes her intellect like that. Here’s hoping she’ll put it to good use someday.

  12. G.

    January 8, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Silence is Golden. Why prove that stupidity still is here.

  13. Edward

    January 9, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    This was posted 2 years ago, why are there still people bickering on this

    ..I’m being hypocritical right now

    *bickers about the words “intelligence quotient”*

  14. Randy

    January 12, 2015 at 3:45 am

    Why don’t these “geniuses” solve some major problem, like cancer?

    • -_-

      March 13, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      Are you kidding me? Why don’t you get your lazy ass up and do something. People are trying to find the cure and now there are treatments to certain cancers. Even a genius can’t just magically find a cure to something. It usually takes time to make a discovery. If you think you can’t do something that is not true. No matter what your IQ is you can still research, it might not help but nobody’s stoping you. At the very least you can donate or just shut up and stop complaining.

  15. steve

    January 22, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Even though the article is 2 years old it is still relevant (though faulty as pointed out) 2 years later. We are both here reading it to prove my point.

  16. Robert

    February 5, 2015 at 8:24 am

    The most intelligent statement ever made: “There are many highly educated people but so very few smart ones”-Anonymous

  17. Jeanne

    February 5, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Is there a common sense test? What would happen to those high IQ tests if we a had to weigh-in common sense with it?

  18. tbos

    February 7, 2015 at 8:39 am

    My IQ is the highest of all geeks written in the Guinness book of world record. Currently I have a consistent IQ of 2 285.I was a child prodigy as well. At the age of only 2 months I could speak english vividly,at 6 months I could memorize and recite shakespeare books and could speak latin,french,greek and spanish. At the age of 2,i was already solving calculus complex problems,and at 4,I began my primary school. I graduated from CALTECH(california Institute of Technology) with a BSc(maths) at only 12 years. I received my Masters in Maths and Physics at 15 years from CALTECH ,followed by Ph.D in theoretical physics(quantum physics), and Honorary Ph.D in Quantum Mathematics at the age of 18.Currently I am the youngest Professor at MIT(Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and I’m aiming to obtain another Ph.D in Astrophysics and Cosmology. I have achieved atleast 4 nobel Prizes until then,both in maths and physics, and other innumerable prestigious awards . Currently I am doing secret Research that will change the world forever,and I have found the absolute Secrets of all time( that if the world can be exposed to it no human being can experience inferior complex ever again. It is the secret to absolute intelligence,naturally known not acquired,the absolute wealth,absolute happiness,perfection in anything,splendidness,magnificence,absolute higher cosmic consciousness and Divine Perfection).It is the Secret of Creation of Manifested Reality and the Art of evolution of Abundant natural Intelligence. It surpasses any form of earthly discovery and will enable one to go beyond the Finite mind of men into infinite realm of self(the highest mental plane of Higher self).It is called ‘THE AMELIA SEQUENCE(THE GOD SEQUENCE)-THE PERFECTION OF THE UNIVERSE. If you want to be so intelligent me?

  19. m_c_Squared

    March 1, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Oh tbos, U kill me! lmao….

    This is fun!

    The most important “quotient”, I believe, is your Kindness Quotient. I was a child prodigy, but I squandered it on purpose. I was sick of being different from the other kids, so I started smoking marijuana and drinking at 13, which has really affected my brain power – at 50 I’m very aware of this, with much regret. Now I believe is the time to start using my intelligence for the betterment of the planet. Please wish me luck!

    • Anonymous

      March 3, 2015 at 2:02 pm

      Sucks to be you

  20. Anonymous

    March 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    After reading these comments, I want to violently projectile vomit onto each and every one of you for your grotesque and disturbing behavior. If IQ measures how smart you are, I’m a genius, and just btw, no one gives two flying f@#$

    • -_-

      March 13, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      *smiles and nods at your statement*

  21. Matt

    March 18, 2015 at 2:36 am

    I’m not a science guy, but isn’t Hawking well known because he has a talent for explaining complicated ideas. Not because he’s out there making breakthroughs?

  22. Juggalo

    March 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I read that so called geniuses are supposed to be able to tell the difference between an algebraic equation and the steps on the Lincoln Memorial. Figure that one out!!!

  23. kiake kiake

    March 26, 2015 at 11:44 am

    my iq 1 trillion 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

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