11 People Who Have The Highest IQ In The World

Table of Contents (click to expand)

The intelligence quotient is a specific score 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, and CA is chronological age.

In this article, we will look at who all have the highest IQ scores worldwide.

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

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 achieved the perfect SAT score, 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.”

Also Read: What Is The IQ Scale Range?

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. Kim Ung-Yong could already read English, Korean, Japanese, and German by age three. 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 16, and he instead started pursuing a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. He currently spends his time doing valuable research and teaching at Chungbuk National University in South Korea.

Leonardo Da Vinci (IQ Score: 220)

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t need any introduction. Widely regarded as one of the most versatile polymaths of all human history, da Vinci was a man of many talents. He was a painter, scientist, mathematician, engineer, cryptographer, and philosopher, among many other things. His painting, the Mona Lisa, is one of the most expensive paintings in the world today.

His early designs of aircraft are still studied, which says a lot about how advanced his knowledge of aerodynamics was at a time when flying in the air was considered a miracle only possible for the gods.

It’s not surprising to learn that da Vinci also had a very high IQ; it’s believed that he might have had an IQ score as high as 220. Quite predictably, he ranks high on the list of the most intelligent humans who ever lived.

K. visalini (IQ Score: 225)

K Visalini
K Visalini (Image Source: Wikimedia Commons)

K. Visalini is an Indian student who is reported to have an IQ score of 225. Born and raised in a humble family, she garnered international attention due to her exceptional speed of learning new ideas and concepts. After graduating from Grade 8, she jumped ahead and enrolled in an Engineering college in Tamil Nadu, India, and as you can guess, she graduated with distinction. She has received many awards and certifications and holds some world records. She is often invited to address scientists and students at various organizations, including Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

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 this 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 : Ethan Hill/Wikimedia Commons)

Marilyn was born in 1946 in Missouri, USA. Believing that her premarital surname 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 Record “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.

Also Read: What Is Mensa?

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 earned his doctorate at the age of only 20, and perhaps more importantly, he received 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 age 5, he operated a typewriter and learned Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German, and Hebrew. At age 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! Some fellow students threatened him at Harvard, so 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 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.

Also Read: Is Your IQ Fixed For Life?

Ainan Celeste Cawley (IQ Score: 250)

Ainan Celeste Cawley
Ainan Celeste Cawley (Photo Credit: Youtube)

Ainan Celeste Cawley was born in 1999. He has an IQ of 250! At 7, Ainan became the youngest person in the world to pass the Chemistry-O level. By age 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.

Marnen Laibow-Koser (IQ Score: 268)

Marnen Laibow-Koser
Marnen Laibow-Koser (Image Source: Marnen Laibow-Koser/Twitter)

Marnen Laibow-Koser is an American musical prodigy who is reported to have an IQ score of 268. He graduated with a Master of Music degree in the Contemporary Improvisation program at New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. Marnen started playing music when he was a 3-year-old; he can play multiple instruments, including the violin, piano, and guitar. In addition to music, he is passionate about computer science. He has professional experience in web design, development, network support, and animation.

Adragon De Mello (IQ Score: 400)

Adragon De Mello
Adragon De Mello (Image Source: CBS News)

Adragon De Mello came to the limelight in 1988 when he became the first person in American history to become a college graduate at 11 (he studied computational mathematics). His record was broken in 1994 by another student, but today, De Mello is known to have one of the highest IQ scores in all of human history – an IQ score of 400!

So this was the list of people with the highest IQ scores.

Now, let’s take a quick look at what intelligence is and why your IQ score is just one aspect of your overall intelligence.

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 regarding what kind of information this represents. Some theorists believe that all specific abilities are based on intelligence, while others believe multiple intelligences exist.

pink color human brain with glasses hits with a hammer to measure level iq on(wowomnom)s
(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 differed for each ability.

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

Howard Garner said that there are eight different bits of intelligence:

  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 labelled 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 only 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 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 130 or more points on 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.

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 easily.

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?

References (click to expand)
  1. Sternberg R. (2005). Cognitive Psychology. Cengage Learning
  2. Andrew M Colman | People | University of Leicester. le.ac.uk
  3. Sternberg, R. J. (2008, May 13). Increasing fluid intelligence is possible after all. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  4. 35 People with Higher IQs Than Einstein - Reader's Digest. Reader's Digest
  5. Marnen Laibow-Koser - Geniuses.Club. geniuses.club
  7. Meet William James Sidis: The Smartest Guy Ever? - NPR. National Public Radio
  8. Ainan Celeste Cawley - Geniuses.Club. geniuses.club
  9. Marilyn vos Savant | Encyclopedia.com. Encyclopedia.com
  10. Terence Tao: Meet the person with the highest IQ in the world. gentside.co.uk
  11. The 18 Smartest People In The World - Business Insider. Insider Inc.
  12. Eleven-year-old Indian girl rated with highest IQ in the world. theweekendleader.com
  13. Celebrity IQ Scores - arealme.com. arealme.com
  14. The Inspiring Life Of A South Korean Professor Who Was .... koreaboo.com
  15. Kim Ung-yong - Wikipedia. Wikipedia
Help us make this article better
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.