What Was Stephen Hawking’s IQ? (With Interesting Facts!)


Stephen Hawking made significant contributions to the field of cosmology, which looks at the origins and evolution of the universe. As a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Hawking is considered among the great minds of our time. In this article, you can learn more about the late scientist’s IQ and find many answers about his brilliance and scientific contributions.

Professor Stephen Hawking never revealed his IQ, but it is believed to have been 160. Such a high score falls in the genius category, and only 0.003% of people score that high. It is not clear when and where he took the test.

Despite his evident genius seen in his scientific work looking into some of the universe’s greatest mysteries, Hawking was not one to boast about IQ. There is a lot to learn from his early history, education, and work in the field of cosmology. Read on to find out more about this man, how he became so intelligent, and some other interesting facts about his life.

Hawking’s Brilliance and Scientific Contributions

To see just how intelligent Hawking was, you only need to look at his long list of scientific works and contributions. The British scientist did a lot of work around black holes and using theoretical predictions on how they give out radiation. His research also looked at major physics concepts such as quantum mechanics and the general theory of relativity. He used these to set out a theory of cosmology.

Stephen Hawking held many prestigious positions. At the time of his death in 2018, he worked at the University of Cambridge as the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. Between 1979 and 2009, he worked as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics also at Cambridge.

Besides research and professorship, Hawking was also an author. His book, “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes,” was first published in 1988. It is considered one of the most important science books and made the “Sunday Times” Bestseller list for 237 weeks—a record in itself. The book is for anyone wanting to learn more about the universe and has sold over 25 million copies. If you’re interested, check this book on Amazon.

The many awards and contributions of Hawking cannot all be named here. He received the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was ranked number 25 in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Briton conducted in 2002. Hawking was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Only someone with a very high IQ could have accomplished all that Stephen Hawking did in his life. Because of his research, the human race is so much further in answering questions about the universe, the beginning of time, as well as the future. 

Hawking’s Views on IQ Scores

Although Hawking was incredibly smart, he was not one to make a fuss about the test. In a famous interview in 2004 with the “New York Times,” Hawking was asked what his IQ was. His response was simple and straightforward enough. He said, “I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers.

Hawking did not believe that human abilities could be clearly marked out with a score. When the interviewer quizzed him further about the widespread view that he was a genius physicist, Hawking had this to say, “The media need superheroes in science just as in every sphere of life, but there is really a continuous range of abilities with no clear dividing line.” He did not deny or confirm being a genius but merely said he hoped he was in the high end of the range. 

What is IQ, and How to Measure it?

Experts everywhere recognize the limits of measuring IQ. According to the Mensa organization, IQ is mainly a measure of mental agility or the quickness of mental comprehension. This measure, however, cannot capture how much knowledge or wisdom someone has or how good their memory is. Intelligence Quotient or IQ can be measured using various tests, including the Mensa test.

The Early Years of Stephen Hawking

To understand how Stephen Hawking went on to be such a great scientific mind, it’s worth looking at his upbringing and background. Many geniuses emerge in their early education years (like Albert Einstein). For many of them, their parents, teachers, and environment contribute to academic excellence and talent. Some schools are more likely to produce brilliant scholars than others, and specific fields of study are usually associated with the highest IQ individuals in society.

Stephen Hawking was born on January 8th, 1942, in Oxford, England. His parents were Frank and Eileen Hawking. Hawking’s mother came from a family of doctors, while his father’s grandfather was initially wealthy but later went bankrupt. Both his parents grew up under trying family finances. Still, they both attended Oxford University, with his mother studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and later working as a secretary at a research institute. His father went into medicine and then worked as a medical researcher.

Hawking had two sisters and a brother. Many reports describe the family as eccentric and highly intelligent. During mealtimes, it was common for each individual to read a book silently to themselves. Education was a very important matter to Hawking’s parents. In 1950, they moved to Hertfordshire in southern England when Frank Hawking landed a job as the head of the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research. The family lived in a large and poorly maintained house.

Here are some facts about Stephen Hawking’s school years:

  • He started his schooling at the Byron House School in London. 
  • When he was 8 years, he also spent a few months at St Albans High School for Girls, which was a common practice for young boys.
  • He attended the Radlett School, and when he passed the eleven-plus primary school exam early, he moved to St Albans School in 1952.
  • He could not move to the prestigious Westminster school as his father hoped because he was ill on the day of the scholarship exam. 

Hawking’s intelligence was apparent in his school days. Here are some interesting facts that show that he started his journey as a science genius early on:

  • He was known as “Einstein” at school.
  • In high school, together with a group of friends, he enjoyed making model airplanes, boats, and fireworks as well as lengthy discussions about the sixth sense and Christianity.
  • In 1958, when he was around 16 years, his mathematics teacher helped him and his friends build a computer from an old clock and telephone components.
  • Hawking was awarded a scholarship and studied physics and chemistry at University College, Oxford. 
  • His father had wanted him to study medicine, while he wished to pursue mathematics, but it was not available at Oxford.
  • When he started his undergraduate studies, he was initially lonely and bored by what he considered “ridiculously easy” work. 
  • In his last years of college, he transformed into an outgoing individual and did not put too much time into his studies, despite his intelligence.
  • He barely made it through to receive the first-class honors degree that he needed to pursue graduate studies in cosmology at the University of Cambridge.
  • At graduate school, Hawking had a rough start, but he later developed into a notable brilliant researcher.

Living With a Degenerative Disease

During his doctoral studies, Hawking was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease (MND) at the early age of 21 years, and this led him into a time of depression. He had an early-onset slow-progressing form of MND known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Fortunately, the progression of his disease was slow, contrary to the initial diagnosis. Doctors convinced him to carry on with his studies. 

In his late 20’s, Hawking started having difficulty with walking and giving lectures. He began using crutches. By the 1970’s, Hawking needed to use a wheelchair. His speech also became almost unintelligible, and he relied on various communication methods such as raising his eyebrows to indicate letters on a spelling card. Later, he used a computer with advanced software complete with an American accent voice.

Lessons on Intelligence from Stephen Hawking’s Life

There is no one formula for intelligence and high IQ. Most geniuses are naturally that way, but many elements of their background and pursuits allow them to shine in their fields. For Hawking, it is clear that he came from an academic family where education was highly valued. His father was very involved in trying to get his son into the best schools, although financial constraints did not always make this possible. Through scholarships, he was able to get an excellent education at leading universities.

Knowledgeable, supportive teachers and professors can also impact someone’s life. Hawking’s high school math teacher was very supportive, for example. He helped his students pursue academic interests outside the school curriculum. Hawking also had high school friends with similar scientific discovery interests, and this allowed him to have an enjoyable school experience. Finding like-minded individuals and mentors are two valuable ways to nurture your intelligence and stay inspired. 

Stephen Hawking was a brilliant scientist. He did not let his long-term health condition keep him from continuing his work and pursuing leading positions. His high IQ was important, but so was his determination to pursue his passions and solve the universe’s big questions. 

 Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking

Liked this article? Find out What was Albert Einstein’s IQ.

Ernest Panfiloff

My name is Ernest and I'm 20 years old. As a student, I've always struggled with memorization, focus, and concentration. I've decided to research everything I can on this, and this blog is where I share everything I find.

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