Musk’s college-admissions test scores were not especially notable

Sunday, November 5th, 2023

Elon Musk is certainly bright, but he’s not superhuman, at least not according to his test scores and grades, as reported by Walter Isaacson (in his biography of Elon):

Musk’s college-admissions test scores were not especially notable. On his second round of the SAT tests, he got a 670 out of 800 on his verbal exam and a 730 on math.


During his first year, Musk got A’s in Business, Economics, Calculus, and Computer Programming, but he got B’s in Accounting, Spanish, and Industrial Relations. The following year, he took another course in Industrial Relations, which studies the dealings between workers and management. Again, he got a B. He later told the Queen’s alumni magazine that the most important thing he learned during his two years there was “how to work collaboratively with smart people and make use of the Socratic method to achieve commonality of purpose,” a skill, like those of industrial relations, that future colleagues would notice had been only partly honed.


  1. Bruce says:

    From Astral Star Codex I got the idea that the strawman for Dumb Elon is ‘Democrats are doing a shakedown on him, so call Elon Dumb or the Democrats will come after you too’.

    And the steelman for Dumb Elon is, okay, he’s smart, but he’s not super smart, a smart layman can look super smart by hiring super smart people. Also he’s powerful and vengeful so just play it safe and call him smart.

    The strawman for Smart Elon is Rocket Scientist, got super rich, programmer. This is also the steelman.

    I think Elon is just physically tougher than the people he meets. His face has encountered adversity. Indeed, his facial bones were kicked to splinters when he was a kid.

  2. Natureboi says:

    Flat SAT scores are irrelevant, the SAT is measured by percentiles because the test changes year to year.

  3. Isegoria says:

    The test scores are normalized so that they remain consistent from year to year — except for a few unusual discontinuities.

  4. Space Nookie says:

    1400 SAT is at the 99.4 percentile, about 1 in 200 people score at or above that point. roughly 135-140 IQ.

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