John F. Kennedy's IQ Might Surprise You

He was the 35th president of the United States, and his election and brief tenure in office changed history. John F. Kennedy was sworn in on January 20, 1961, becoming the first Catholic president and the youngest man to hold that office, says History. Before he could finish his first term, he was assassinated while riding in a convertible, part of his motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. His wife was seated beside him.

Kennedy was a popular president, despite winning a narrow race (via Britannica). In his short time in office, he established the U.S. Peace Corps, helped reform public aid and taxes (via Tax Foundation), and minimum wages, which some argue helped the country out of recession (via The Balance). He is credited with halting a potential all-out nuclear war during the Cuban Missile crisis, per Miller Center. The latter incident led to the signing of the Nuclear Test Ban treaty (via National Archives). Kennedy is one of the most memorable heads of state — and he was apparently smart, too.

Kennedy's IQ score

Kennedy came from a very wealthy Massachusetts family. He was so rich that when he became president, he never took his salary, says PBS. Being the son of one of the richest men in New England, Kennedy was afforded the best. He went to two ivy league universities, Princeton and Harvard, but only graduated from the latter school.

He eventually joined the navy, and earned a purple heart for his service in the South Pacific during World War II before being discharged. Afterwards, he entered politics as a congressman and then a senator. But just how intelligent was he? There are multiple sources claiming to report Kennedy's score, but various researchers have determined that Kennedy's IQ score was somewhere between 138.9 to 159.8, based on a 2006 study conducted by Dean Simonton, an associate professor at the University of California Davis (published in International Society of Political Psychology, and posted at JSTOR). Based on that classification, whichever rank Kennedy actually stood at, he would still be considered someone with a high IQ (via HealthLine), as a score above 130 signifies intelligence well above average, which is a score of 85-115. Healthline reports that 98% of the population score lower than 130.