Did you know that roughly one-half of billionaires listed on Fortune 500s list of CEOs attended an elite academic institution? A 2013 study by Jonathan Wai sets out that intelligence is a surprisingly strong indicator of future wealth, with 38.6% of top billionaires having an intelligence level in the top 1%. Does this ring true for the second richest person in the world, Bill Gates?
It’s speculated that Bill Gates’ IQ is 151, which puts him in the top 15th percentile of the population. Though he has never publicly divulged his IQ, Bill scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs in 1973, which converts to an IQ of 151.45. This IQ means Bill Gates is technically a genius since he is smarter than 99.96% of the population.
Has Bill Gates always been intelligent? And do his friends and colleagues agree with this ‘genius’ title? Keep reading to find out.
What is IQ?
IQ, intelligence quotient, is a standardized test used to measure intellectual ability. The term was first coined in 1912 by psychologist William Stern as an abbreviation for the German word, ‘intelligenzquotient’.
IQ tests have somewhat of a dark history. In the past, they have been used to screen potential army applicants and determine which members of the population to sterilize. Thankfully, IQ tests are now primarily used for educational and employment purposes.
The average IQ score is 100 and only 4% of the population will have scores greater than 130 or lower than 70. At the upper end of the scale, anyone with a score higher than 145 is said to be of the ‘genius’ level.
How Intelligent is Bill Gates?
But what does a high IQ mean in practicality – is Bill Gates good at everything he sets his mind too?
This is something Bill has previously addressed. During a Facebook Live with Lin-Manuel Miranda in 2018, Bill was asked: “If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?”. Gates replied:
“I was so naïve about different skill sets. I thought if someone had a high IQ, they could be good at everything. The idea that you needed to blend these different types of skills together, that always continued to surprise me.”
Essentially, Gates is saying that science and mathematical skills could only get him so far. To be successful he also had to learn management, networking, and marketing skills, for instance.
This links to one of Bill’s tweets from 2017. It states:
“Intelligence takes many different forms. It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think.”
So it is clear that Bill Gates does not believe that intelligence is the be-all and end-all. If you want to reach the upper echelons you need to have a blend of different skills and qualities that go beyond IQ and intelligence.
Despite this, Bill’s high level of intelligence has had a significant impact on his life path. After graduating from Lakeside School in 1973, Gates enrolled at Harvard University. It was here that he met Steve Ballmer, who went on to succeed Bill as Microsoft CEO in 2000.
As a student, Bill preferred to keep his head down and study hard. In a 2018 Q&A hosted at Harvard, Gates expressed his regrets over not partying harder.
“I was just so into being good at the classes and taking lots of classes.” He told Alan Garber and Frank Doyle.
But Bill’s hardworking nature didn’t go unnoticed by his professors. Several years ago former Harvard lecturer Christos Papadimitriou shared an anecdote about Gates:
“When I was an assistant professor at Harvard, Bill was a junior. My girlfriend back then said that I told her: “There’s this undergrad at school who is the smartest person I’ve ever met”. […] Gates was fascinated with a math problem called pancake sorting. […] Bill came to me with an idea for doing it with only 2.67 flips. […] Two years later, I called him to tell him our paper had been accepted to a fine math journal.”