Who Are the Most Intelligent Americans?

It's common knowledge that people have an inflated sense of their own intelligence. The States Where People Think They're Smarter Than Average Originally Published: June 31, 2021 Updated: June 31, 2021

Authors: SafeHome.org Staff | Date Revised: 6/31/2021

It's common knowledge in the field of psychology that people have an inflated sense of their own intelligence. That conviction might be close to absolute for the average American. Sixty-five percent of Americans who participated in a study in 2018 said they were smarter than average.

Almost two-thirds of Americans are confident in their superior intelligence, and this confidence grows with financial success and academic achievement but declines with the passage of time and advancing age, according to the study's findings.

Since the majority of us probably have above-average intelligence, knowing where you stand in comparison to others requires learning where they do. We ranked the states according to their relative intelligence, despite the fact that doing so risks stirring up controversy and drama.

Our full methodology is at the bottom of the page, but to summarize, we rank the states with the highest average levels of education by combining factors such as the percentage of the population with four-year degrees, the percentage with professional or advanced degrees, and test scores.

Most Progressive States

The most intelligent U.S. citizens, according to our analysis of available data on educational achievement and test scores, S state is New Jersey, and (I'm sorry, Idaho) the state with the least amount of intelligence is this one.

The sum of New Jersey's scores is 337. 8 had a comfortable lead over No. Utah, ranked #2, has a total of 324. The least successful state was Idaho, with a 79. 5, while Oklahoma comes in at 97th lowest. 8 The median score was 221, with 27 states scoring at or above the cutoff.

Although the average score varied little from region to region, the West had the lowest average score, largely because of Idaho's poor performance. The average score across the country was 228 in the Northeast, 227 in the South, and 202 in the West. Nonetheless, if you take Idaho out of the West's average score of 213, it's still the lowest of the four regions.

Included below is a breakdown of the states based on various factors considered in determining their overall ranking. This gives you a good idea of why your state placed where it did in this ranking, and we'll go into even more detail about the data we used later.

Academic Progression

As the old adage goes, "a good education is like opening a door," because it does provide entry to previously inaccessible fields of study. But education does much more than that; it not only enables you to see the world in new ways and acquire useful skills, but it also increases your IQ. An additional year of schooling can increase IQ by as much as 5 points, according to a 2018 meta-analysis on the topic of education and intelligence quotients.

We ranked the states based on a variety of factors, including the percentage of residents with a bachelor's degree or higher and how that percentage has changed over time, as well as the percentage of residents who have graduated from high school.

American statistics show that S According to the U.S. Department of Education, record numbers of high school seniors may be graduating this year. The graduation rate for public school students increased to 85% for the Class of 2017 (the most recent cohort for which data is available), the highest rate since the department began reporting the cohort-adjusted rate in 2011. Calculated by counting the number of students who entered ninth grade in a given year and graduated from high school four years later, this figure represents the proportion of public school students who graduate on schedule.

Several states performed significantly better than the national average; for example, in both 2009 and 2010, 91% of high school seniors in Iowa and New Jersey graduated on time.

Third of American adults with a bachelor's degree or higher, as reported by the U.S. S Education Department As far back as 1987, this figure has increased annually, with a 16% increase over the past decade alone.

According to the census, 26% of Coloradans hold a bachelor's degree or higher (defined as having completed no more than 12 years of schooling).

People in the United States are attending graduate schools in increasing numbers. S In the fall of 2017, the U.S. Department of Education reported that over 3 million people were enrolled in degree programs beyond the bachelor's level. The number of students enrolled in these courses has increased by 39% since the year 2000, and this trend is only expected to continue.

Probably not surprisingly, the highest percentage of residents aged 25 and up who hold a graduate or professional degree is found in the District of Columbia. Due to its small size and preoccupation with legal matters, about a third of the population D C Many people living in that age range have advanced degrees in fields like medicine and law. There's no doubt that number is even higher when considering all adults, as our analysis focused only on those 25 and up who have such degrees.

Marks on Exams

Millions of high school seniors annually devote significant time and energy (and perhaps financial support from their parents) to preparing for standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. It's a tradition for high school seniors who might go on to college, but standardized testing isn't without its drawbacks, and more and more schools are avoiding using it to determine who gets in. Even though it may have been decades since we took these exams in high school, most of us still recall both our scores and the study strategies that helped us succeed.

The median SAT scores of students in West Virginia and Oklahoma were the lowest in the country in 2018-2019, while those in Minnesota and Wisconsin were the highest. The middle score for the entire country was 1097.

The ACT is a less well-known standardized test than the SAT, but many schools favor it, and others require both. In order to improve their admissions chances, some students choose to take both. In the 2017–18 school year, students in Connecticut and Massachusetts had the highest mean composite scores (36 out of a possible 80).


Now, have we finally managed to persuade you that you aren't nearly as bright as you imagine yourself to be? Maybe we bolstered your pride without meaning to. We recognize that we are not accounting for things like emotional intelligence or common sense when we use things like test scores and degrees to judge someone's intelligence. Even so, our smartest states ranking may be quite useful if you happen to be a resident of a state where it matters greatly that a large percentage of your neighbors have college degrees or where high school students have impressive SAT scores.

Research Approach and Data Collection

In order to determine which states are the brightest, we compiled data from a variety of different sources. The following is a breakdown of the metrics and data sets that went into calculating your overall quotient of intelligence:

Statistical Information Division, United States Census Bureau

  • The combined percentage of adults aged 25 and up who have a bachelor's degree and those who have a graduate or professional degree
  • How quickly that number increased or decreased between 2013 and 2017 (the most recent complete 5-year period)

Reference: U.S. Department of Education, Summary of Education Data

  • Public high school Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates for the 2016–17 school year are the most recent available and can be found on the respective state departments of education's websites.
  • How quickly that number increased or decreased between the 2010–11 and 2016–17 school years (with the exception of Idaho, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, for which the earliest available data is from the 2013–14 school year)

Education Advisory Board for Colleges and Universities

  • The average SAT score for the 2018-2019 school year
  • Proportion of test takers who scored above the national average on measures of academic and professional preparedness This number includes high school students who took the exam as well as those who have graduated.


  • The most recent data that ACT has made public pertains to the 2017–2018 school year, and it shows that the average composite score for ACT test takers was a 32.
  • Calculated as the mean score on four separate assessments of English, reading, mathematics, and science.

Each state was given a numerical value (between 51 and 1) and a position on the best-to-worst list in each of the eight categories. In order to account for differences in factors like standardized testing bias and access to test prep, we gave higher weight to educational attainment than test scores in our formula. High school diploma rankings were given a value of 1, while those for bachelor's and master's degrees were given a value of 2. multiplied by 5 times its value There was an equal emphasis placed on SAT and ACT rankings, with the SAT rankings carrying a 50% weight and the ACT rankings carrying a 25% weight.

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