There’s a well-known phenomenon in psychology where people tend to think they are smarter than the average person. For Americans, that belief may approach certainty. A 2018 study found that 65% of Americans believe they have above-average intelligence.
In addition to about 2 in 3 Americans saying they are smarter than most other people, the study found that certainty of one’s superior intellect increased with income and education but decreased with age.
If most of us have above-average intelligence, then that sort of dilutes what the word “average” means, and understanding where you rank means learning where others stand. Despite the risk of creating conflict and drama, we wanted to find a way to quantify which Americans actually are smarter than the rest by ranking the states according to how smart they are.
You can jump to the bottom of the page for our full methodology, but our formula takes into account college degrees, high school graduation, professional or advanced degrees and test scores to create a smartest states ranking.
Our analysis of the available data covering educational achievement and test scores found that the smartest U.S. state is New Jersey, and (sorry to this state) the dumbest one is Idaho.
New Jersey’s total score of 337.8 was safely ahead of No. 2 Utah, with its score of 324. Idaho had the lowest score at 79.5, with the next lowest being Oklahoma at 97.8. Among all states, the average score was 221, and 27 states scored above that mark.