If you have an IQ above 150, you’re in the top 1% of the population when it comes to intelligence. These people make up the top 10 people with the highest IQs in the world, as measured by accepted IQ tests and verified by organizations like Mensa International and Guinness World Records. As much as we wish we could be smarter than everyone else, not everyone can achieve this level of intelligence – but we can all certainly aspire to!
Here are our top 10 people with the highest IQs.
10. Stephen Hawking – IQ 160
We open with the renowned English theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. He is best known for his contributions to popular science. Noteworthy works include A Brief History of Time, which covers his discoveries in the field of theoretical physics, in language that everyone can understand. The book has remained a bestseller across the world for weeks and has since sold upwards of 10 million copies. His contributions in the field of theoretical physics have revolutionized the field and advanced the sum of human knowledge substantially.
9. Albert Einstein – IQ 160-190
The man responsible for essentially inventing the field of theoretical physics never took an IQ test, but most experts place his IQ somewhere between 160 and 190. Albert Einstein was born in 1879 in Germany, and is best known for developing the theory of relativity, which (alongside quantum mechanics) is one of the two theories that provide the foundation for our entire modern understanding of physics. Oppenheimer also participated in the development of nuclear fission, an activity he would later regret when it was weaponized as the atomic bomb. He died in 1955 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
8. Judit Polgar – IQ 170
Chess has long been associated with intellectual prowess. In fact, the world’s best chess players often measure their IQs as well, and some of the world’s most brilliant minds have turned to this ancient and prestigious game. Judit Polgar has been described as the greatest female chess player of all time, and achieved the rank of grandmaster at the age of 15 years and 4 months, making her the youngest player to do so at the time. She was the first woman to defeat the world’s top player in competitive play, Gary Kasparaov, which she did in chess. Even today, she competes in competitive chess.
7. Leonardo Da Vinci – IQ 180-190
Einstein didn’t give a figure to represent da Vinci’s IQ because neither the concept nor the test existed in his time. Experts retroactively determined that da Vinci’s IQ was most likely in the range of 180 to 190, which would have made it among the highest ever. Given what he accomplished, it certainly seems plausible. Leonardo was the first famous polymath (a man who is skilled in various fields) and he epitomizes the concept of the ‘Renaissance Man’ more than any human in recent times. Leonardo da Vinci was not only a genius artist, but a geologist, cartographer, engineer, and musician. Feels good, right?
6. Marilyn Vos Savant – IQ 190
As her name suggests, Marilyn Vos Savant was a genius. Born in 1946, she rose to fame after being listed in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the highest IQ in the 1980s. As of that time, her score of 190 was the highest recorded. Marilyn became famous for her column ‘Ask Marilyn’, where people sent in questions seeking advice – like a more mathematical-oriented version of ‘Annie’s Mailbox’ – which she then published and answered. Her column is still written today.
5. Garry Kasparov – IQ 194
Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster and is widely considered to be the single greatest player of all time. Between 1986 and 2005, he was the #1 ranked player for 225 out of 228 months, which is a statistic that has never been replicated. He achieved celebrity status in his native Soviet Union, or what is now Russia, as the result of competitive matches against IBM’s Deep Blue computer, and he also participated in political activism against Vladimir Putin, who at the time was Russia’s Prime Minister. He has been retired from chess for the past twenty years and presently works on the board of the Human Rights Foundation.
4. Kim Ung-Yong – IQ 210
Kim Ung-Yong is an interesting figure because of what he didn’t do more than what he did. Born in South Korea in 1963, Ung-Yong began speaking at 6 months old and could read English, German, Korean, and Japanese by his 3rd birthday. Once his talents were recognized, Ung-Yong went to the United States to study and later became employed by NASA for nearly a decade. Eventually Ung-Yong became disillusioned with life at NASA and he left to return to his native Korea to be a teacher, which he still does to this day. He lived an extremely accomplished life, famous and never out of opportunities brought on by his intellect, but at the end of his life he preferred to live a relatively low-key life.
3. Christopher Hirata – IQ 225
A child prodigy, Christopher Hirata achieved notoriety when he won the gold medal in the International Physics Olympiad at age 13, one of the youngest Americans to ever do so. At 14, he enrolled in the California Institute of Technology and successfully obtained his PhD at Princeton University by the age of 22. Subsequently, he returned to the California Institute of Technology to teach astrophysics, a job he still does today at the age of 31.
2. Terence Tao – IQ 225-230
Mathematician Terence Tao came to prominence as a child prodigy. His parents were immigrants from Hong Kong, and Tao specializes in harmonic analysis, additive combinatorics, and other fields of mathematics. The Fields Medal honors mathematicians under the age of 40 for excellence and innovation, and he teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles.
1. William James Sidis IQ 250 – 300
IQ scores are also unknown for William James Sidis. Experts estimate that he has somewhere between 250 and 300 IQ, which would place him among the top scorers in history. Born in 1898, Sidis entered Harvard at the age of 11 to study mathematics, making him the youngest person to ever enroll at the prestigious school. His studies were completed and he began teaching, but the older students in his class did not take well to being educated by a boy. Due to his rapid rise through the educational system, he suffered socially, unable to maintain close friendships. Despite participating in socialist movements, his life was marred by legal trouble and a stint in a sanatorium after his parents tried to reform his political views. After his release in 1921, the troubled genius stepped away entirely from mathematics and academics, and lived a relatively normal life. A cerebral hemorrhage killed him at the age of 46.