On Jan. 29, 2024, a user on X posted (archived) that the White House announced U.S. President Joe Biden had taken an aptitude test that found he had an IQ of 187. The news supposedly was shared by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that morning, the post claimed.
"White House claims Joe Biden's IQ is 187," the post read. "Karine Jean-Pierre just finished her Monday morning briefing and said that the Joe Biden took an 'aptitude test' and got an overwhelming '187 IQ,' making him the smartest president in U.S. history! 187 might be his weight or height?"
Numerous other users on X, in YouTube videos and on former U.S. President Donald Trump's social media platform Truth Social shared the same rumor, all claiming the White House said Biden's IQ was 187.
However, we rate this claim as "False." Jean-Pierre made no such announcement, as was evidenced by both a video of and transcript from the Jan. 29 White House press briefing, which took place in the afternoon, not the morning. Further, an aptitude test is different from an intelligence quotient test and does not result in an IQ score.
As for Biden's real IQ score, it was unclear whether he had ever even taken a test. The same goes for past presidents, as it's not exactly a standard practice for politicians to take such a test.
Snopes reached out to the White House to ask whether Biden had ever taken an IQ test or whether he planned to take one in the future. This story will be updated if a response is received.
Biden's 1987 IQ Remark
On the subject of Biden and IQ scores, in July 1987, the Los Angeles Times reported that Biden "chewed out" and "snapped" at an attendee during a meet-the-candidate gathering in New Hampshire while campaigning ahead of the 1988 U.S. presidential election.
"My question is, what law school did you attend and where did you place in that class?," asked the man, identified as Frank, video of the encounter shows. "Who cares?" another attendee said.
Biden responded at length:
"I think I probably have a much higher IQ than you do, I suspect. I went to law school on a full academic scholarship. The only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship. And the first year in law school, I decided I didn't want to be in law school and ended up in the bottom two-thirds of my class, and then decided I wanted to stay, went back to law school and in fact ended up in the top half of my class. I won the international moot court competition. I was the outstanding student in the political science department at the end of my year. I graduated with three degrees from undergraduate school and 165 credits. You only need 123 credits. And I would be delighted to sit down and compare my IQ to yours if you'd like, Frank."
The Washington Post reported in September 1987 that Biden's claims did not line up with the facts:
In fact, Biden, who has been criticized for using major parts of other politicians' speeches in his own and who was accused of plagiarism in a law school paper in 1965, didn't go to Syracuse Law School on a full academic scholarship, but on a half scholarship based on financial need, nor did he finish in the top half of his class; his ranking was 76th out of 85.
There also is no indication that he won the moot court competition, and such a claim doesn't appear on his resume, Newsweek said. He also didn't win the award given the outstanding political science student at his undergraduate school, the University of Delaware.
And Biden didn't graduate from Delaware with three degrees. He received one, a bachelor's degree in political science and history, his records show.
Biden ended up withdrawing from the 1988 presidential race on Sept. 23, 1987.
Presidential IQ Estimates
In 2006, Dean Simonton, now a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, published an extensive paper of IQ estimates for the first 42 U.S. presidents, titled "Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives."
Through a series of detailed and complex criteria, all of which are thoroughly laid out in the paper, Simonton's work showed the highest estimated IQ score of 175 for John Quincy Adams. Dead last on the list was Ulysses S. Grant, with an estimated IQ score of 130. George W. Bush landed just one spot above Grant, with an estimated IQ of 138.5.
Note: Reader's Digest previously reported on Simonton's paper in December 2023.