What is the highest IQ of a living person?

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measure of intelligence based on standardized tests. Theoretically, there is no upper limit to an IQ score. However, statistically the scores follow a normal distribution in the population with a mean of 100. An IQ score of above 140 is considered genius level. The highest verified IQ score of any living person today is between 190 and 228 according to the Guinness Book of World Records. However, some other unverified scores are even higher. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the people who are considered to have the highest IQs in the world and how IQ scores are determined.

What is considered a genius IQ score?

An IQ score between 140 and 160 is considered genius level. Only 0.1% of the population have an IQ in this range. People with genius level IQs are considered to have superior intelligence and excel in fields like science, mathematics and the arts. However, having a high IQ does not necessarily guarantee success in life. Factors like emotional intelligence, hard work, persistence and opportunity are also important contributors to achievement.

Some characteristics of genius IQs include:

  • Exceptional ability to apply logic and reason.
  • High speed of information processing and learning.
  • Excellent memory recall.
  • Advanced comprehension and critical thinking skills.
  • Ability to grasp complex concepts quickly.

While IQ tests are not a perfect measure of intelligence, having an IQ in the genius range indicates an exceptional level of intellectual ability.

How is IQ measured?

There are a number of standardized tests used to measure IQ. Some of the most common and reliable IQ tests include:

  • Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)
  • Raven’s Progressive Matrices
  • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities
  • Cattell Culture Fair Test

These tests measure various aspects of intelligence including logical reasoning, spatial intelligence, verbal comprehension, working memory and processing speed.

The average IQ score is defined as 100. Scores above 140 are considered genius level, while scores under 70 indicate mild to moderate intellectual disability.

IQ tests have a standard distribution where most people cluster around the average score. As you move further away in either direction from the mean, the scores become less common. For example, only 1 in 30,000 people have an IQ score higher than 160 which is near the maximum possible score.

Who are some of the people alive today with the highest IQs?

Kim Ung-Yong

Kim Ung-Yong of South Korea is estimated to have an IQ score between 200 and 210. He was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest IQ until 1990.

Some key facts about Kim Ung-Yong:

  • He was able to speak fluently by the age of 6 months and could read several languages by his second birthday.
  • By the age of 3, he was solving complex calculus problems and wrote poetry in both Korean and English.
  • He was invited to work for NASA by the age of 8 but decided to return to South Korea.
  • He later earned a PhD in civil engineering and now works as a university professor.

With an IQ potentially over 200, Kim Ung-Yong is considered by many to be one of the smartest people alive today.

Christopher Langan

Christopher Langan has been called the smartest man in America with an estimated IQ between 195 and 210.

  • He taught himself to read by the age of 3 and was classified as gifted in elementary school.
  • He scored a perfect SAT score while still in high school.
  • He developed his own cognitive theory called the “Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe”.
  • He was a bouncer at a Long Island bar despite his high intelligence due to his difficult early life.

Christopher Langan rose from poverty to become an autodidact with an exceptionally high IQ score.

Terence Tao

Terence Tao, a math professor at UCLA, has an estimated IQ score between 225 and 230.

  • He showed remarkable mathematical abilities from an early age, attending university math courses at the age of 9.
  • He was the youngest participant to date in the International Mathematical Olympiad at age 10.
  • He received his Ph.D. in math from Princeton at age 20.
  • He was a recipient of the Fields Medal, one of the highest honors in mathematics.

With an IQ over 225, Terence Tao is considered by some to be the smartest living person in the world today.

Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant has an IQ of 228 according to the Guinness Book of World Records, making her potentially the person alive today with the highest IQ.

  • She took the Stanford-Binet test at age 10 and scored a 228.
  • She was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the highest IQ from 1986 to 1989.
  • She is an author and columnist who writes “Ask Marilyn” where she solves puzzles and answers questions from readers.
  • She has been named one of the 100 most influential women by various outlets despite her controversial status.

With a verified IQ of 228, Marilyn vos Savant may have the highest tested intelligence of any living person. However, the inconsistencies in her public claims have made her a controversial figure.

Richard Rosner

Richard Rosner is an American writer who claims to have an IQ score between 250 and 300 based on several tests he took to get into the ultra-elite society called the Mega Society.

  • He received the highest score ever on a test to get into the Mega Society.
  • He states he can recite over 60,000 digits of pi and speaks nine languages.
  • Guinness Book of World Records no longer lists highest IQ scores over 200.
  • His claims of astronomically high IQ scores are dubious and considered unreliable by experts.

While Richard Rosner claims super genius level intelligence, his reported IQ scores of over 250 have not been independently verified.

Why are extremely high IQ scores unreliable?

There are several reasons why reported IQ scores over 200 should be viewed with skepticism:

  • Increasing inaccuracies at the extremes – IQ tests become less reliable in measuring massive extremes of intelligence.
  • No universally accepted test – There is no single standardized test that can reliably measure IQs above 200.
  • Questionable motives – Individuals claiming ultra-high scores often have an agenda or want recognition.
  • Lack of consensus – Extremely high scores are not universally recognized within the scientific community.
  • Regression toward the mean – Even valid genius level scores tend to gravitate back toward the average over time.

Due to these factors, modern psychology places less emphasis on reporting highest IQ scores above 200. Furthermore, Guinness Book of World Records no longer lists IQ scores higher than 198. Theoretical intelligence scores above 200 exceed three standard deviations from the norm and face skepticism about their meaningfulness and accuracy.

Does IQ really matter beyond a certain point?

While IQ scores are useful for identifying giftedness and intellectual disabilities, research shows IQ matters less and less as scores rise above 130.

Other factors become far more important contributors to success and achievement, such as:

  • Creativity
  • Social skills
  • Physical and mental health
  • Perseverance
  • Opportunities
  • Personality traits

Two people with IQs of 180 versus 150 might not have much difference in their ability to excel in careers or accomplishments. Furthermore, someone with an IQ of 120 coupled with strong drive and emotional intelligence can outperform someone with an IQ of 150 lacking those traits.

Once you reach the level of “moderately gifted”, IQ scores become an imperfect predictor of real world success. Raw intelligence matters less than motivation, teamwork, likability, and developing expertise.


In summary, the highest verified IQ score of any living person today is between 190 and 228 according to Guinness Book of World Records. However, reported scores above 200 become increasingly dubious and unreliable. Once you reach genius level IQ, other factors like persistence, creativity, and interpersonal skills become more important than marginal differences in IQ scores. While intellectual giftedness is useful, it is not everything. The most intelligent people use their gifts not for bragging rights but to make meaningful contributions to society.

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