We’ll start this show with a disclaimer, in that judging smartness is not always an easy thing to do. We know Einstein was smart, but he was the man that told us education starts once you’ve forgotten what you learned in school. The undeniably witty and wise American writer and social critic Mark Twain hardly had any formal education at all, and we know that smart entrepreneurs that make millions are not always academically minded.
You could have a very high IQ and still fail in matters of work, marriage, or mere survival from day to day. So, on that rationale, how do we judge smart and how on Earth can we say a country is smart? Well, with a bit of education data and other resources, we were able to draw some conclusions. Welcome to this episode of the Infographics Show, Smartest Countries Around the World.
Ok, so we could just look at IQ, and Hong Kong would be top according to one resource, followed by South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. But let’s focus on the latest report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which takes test results into account and gives each country a score. OECD bases its results on what it calls the PISA (or Program for International Student Assessment) which tests 15-year old students around the world in math, reading and science. Each country gets a ranking for each subject, but everything is tallied up and so there is an overall score. We will look at that overall score and also how each country did in each category. Let us begin.
20. United Kingdom
The UK scored highest in science overall, coming in 15th place. For math and reading, it was outside of the top 20.
The BBC reports that even though Austria gets 19th place overall, the only time it makes the top 20 for a category is when it gets 20th place for math with a score of 497.
Slovenia did well overall, getting 14th place in math with a score of 510, 14th place in reading with a score of 505, and 13th place in science with a score of 513. Taking that into account, it seems Slovenia should be higher than 18th. All we can do is tell you what the sources say.
17. New Zealand
The Kiwis claimed 20th place in math with a score of 495, 10th place in reading with a score of 509, and 12th place in science with a score of 513. We should note here that some countries score the same in some subjects.
Belgium achieved a score of 507 in math, making it 15th placed. In science, the country got 20th place in reading with a score of 499, and 20th place in science with a score of 502.
The Irish claimed 18th place in math with a score of 504, a pretty good 5th place in reading with a score of 521, and 19th place in science with a score of 503.
The Ozzies took the 15th spot, but didn’t even make the top 20 in math. But they did come on strong in reading at 16th place with a score of 503, and even better in science, claiming the 14th spot with a score of 510.
Germany claimed 16th place in math with a score of 506, 11th place in reading with a score of 509, and 16th place in science with again a score of 509.
Vietnam scored the same as New Zealand in math, so it also can lay claim to the 20th spot. The country wasn’t close to the top 20 in reading, but in science, Vietnam can be proud of taking the 8th spot with a score of 525.
The Poles were just behind the Germans in math in 17th place with a score of 504. In reading, the country came in 13th with a score of 506, and in science it was just out of the top 20.
Canada was pretty good all round, achieving 10th place in math with a score of 516, a superb joint second place in reading with a score of 527, and 7th place in science with a score of 528.
The Dutch claimed 9th in math with a score of 512, 15th place in reading with score of 503, and 17th in science with a score of 509. We might ask here again why Canada is placed behind the Dutch. Besides this, the rankings seem to hold up.
The Swiss came 8th in math with a score of 521. The country wasn’t in the top 20 for reading, and in science it came in 18th with a score of 506.
The Estonians were a point behind the Swiss in math in 9th place, but claimed 6th place in reading with a score of 519. In science, the country was placed in a commendable 3rd place with a score of 534.
Finland got 13th place in math with a score of 511, 4th place in reading with a score of 526, and 5th place in science with a score of 531.
Taiwan was actually given joint 5th place with Japan overall. It claimed 4th in math with a score of 542, but didn’t make the top 20 for reading. That didn’t matter much as the Taiwanese claimed 4th in science with a score of 532.
So, Japan was actually given the same overall score as Taiwan, but in math the country claimed 5th place with a score of 532. In reading, it claimed 8th place with a score of 516, and in science Japan got an impressive second place with a score of 538.
3. South Korea
Following this Asian trend, South Korea did well overall. In math the country placed 7th with score of 524. In reading it claimed the 7th spot, again with a score of 517, and in science it was placed 11th with a score of 516.
2. Hong Kong
Hong Kong claimed second place in math with a score of 548. In reading it took the second spot again with a score of 527, and in science, 9th place with a score of 523.
You might have noticed that we haven’t said 1st place yet, and that is because Singapore beat every country in every category. It was first in math with a score of 564 – way higher than other countries – first in reading with a score of 535, and first in science with a score of 556. Again, way above second place.
You might note that these scores reflect the average IQ scores we mentioned at the beginning of the show. As we said already, these scores don’t necessarily mean Singapore is full of little geniuses, but rather that students there, on average, are certainly good at taking tests. One thing left off the tests is creativity, and without that you are missing a key element in success. But it’s not something that is easy to assess, either. In the case of how countries were ranked overall, if some of those rankings don’t seem right, we suggest you just look at each individual subject.
Also, be sure to check out our other video called Private School vs Public School! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!