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Doing the Math: How many kids are at Hogwarts?

by David Haber

On October 16, 2000, in an interview, J.K. Rowling was asked, "How many students attend Hogwarts, and how many students per year per house?" and she replied, simply, "There are about a thousand students at Hogwarts." And because she said it, this has persisted as the proper answer accepted by most fans. But I don't see how that could be correct.

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Reader Comments: (Page 18)

um, Dave from England, I do not think vampires and werewolves can seperate themselves. Otherwise Lupin would have just seperated himself at the full moon.

Posted by aranel from CA on July 4, 2009 1:04 PM

ok, i have actually done the same exact math as you in the past, and believe that this is accurate. J.K. just didn't do the math. Houses could have been split up i suppose, but i honestly think that it is more likely that J.K. used the Ready, Fire, Aim method in answering that question.

Posted by Rick from my house on July 8, 2009 10:49 AM

First, we've got to understand a few key factors:

--Games and movies are not cannon, thus they don't speak for the books which, for all rights and purposes, the "most accurate" accounts. So no movie or game mentioning.

--Trying to tie in demographics for Britain is like trying to explain the reproductive system to a child using birds and bees (I dunno where that symbol came from). It won't work, because we have so many factors. Like the bank issue someone mentioned. Since we don't know how the banking system works, it can't be used as a goog sensus of GB's wizard community. People could have multiple accounts for investment purposes. People abroad hiding money. People in marriages and families could have two seperate accounts and a joint account. People, people, people. They fuddle logistics up so much.

So, when you start reading the series, you already get the impression of a contradiction. We've got a humongous castle, but the first flying lesson had only 20 broomsticks for class of first year Gryffs and Slyths, meaning there can really only be about 10 students each in that year in those houses, give or take shuffling a person or two around. If you guess an average number for the fist year Ravens and are generous to the misfit/loyal taking first year Puffs, we'd have a round 50-60, and that's if the Puffs are really generous. Of course, I like the idea of birth rates jumping around during Voldemort's 'reign', especially since it does seem odd to have a class of ten at the beginning of your secondary education.

So, let's say that the year with the most students would be the seventh years, still uring Harry's first year. If Harry's year would have 60 students, just to get closer to Rowling's number, then the 7th years should have maybe 80, or pushing it, 90.

If you include details like the boat number for first years, as well as using Harry's boys' dorm as a basis for evenly splitting Houses, then we'd have the aforemention 280 minimum of students whilst Harry's at school.

But, if you use my numbers, starting with the seventh years and slowly declining in year numbers...(There'll be fluctuating, people are still random)
(Ex: 90, 87, 84, 76, 77, 70, 60)
Then you'd have roughly 550 students when Harry starts school. This amount could stay roughly the same, since the larger older years leave, but larger younger years (when birth rate pushes up again) replace them.

The number is relatively in between Rowling's guessed (on the spot, with a woman who's bad at numbers, remember) 1000 and the minimum estimated 280. If we split my number evenly we'd have....

About 138 students per House...(I know it's hard to imagine with the book details of Harry's Common Room, but Rowena Ravenclaw was the designer of the castle and put so many confusing little spells on its architecture that I'm sure more students can fit anywhere when needed.)

About 20 students per House. (Again a little large, but remember the generous Hufflepuff graphic.)

And about 10 students per dorm/gender.

My numbers are large in comparison to the detailed estimates from Harry's POV, but that's just it, we see things in only Harry POV. We can only take the truth to be from him. Things can seem larger or smaller to him than in truth. He's only ever been in another Common Room, the Slytherins, and even then he never saw their dorms. This is basically chalked up to chance and large estimations.

Just as well, every reader is allowed a certain suspension of disbelief, where we can choose to believe that in such a huge castle only 300 students mill around, or we decide that there are extra hundereds students in Hufflepuff (since Raven, Slyth, and Gryf are the only Houses with highly defining 'requirments' for House entrance, we can guess that Hufflepuff usually have a larger amount of students). Personally I agree more with David Haber's guess (what with the way the books describe and the movies look), but I'll take the liberty of going with my own balanced guess and move on with my life. Thank God for this thread, I've spent way too many nights staring at my ceiling with numbers in my head.

Besides all that, I was wondering if anyone has thought of doing an official guess at the scheduling of Hogwarts? Cause if you think this is a numerical conundrum, flip through the books and Google Hogwarts classes. I've been doing it for a week and haven't found any luck at a breakthrough.

Posted by Tuna from Jacksonville, FL on July 9, 2009 8:51 PM

does it really really matter? The point is that the books, although only mentioning a few select students by name, convey the image of many more students than just a couple hundred. My High school is average sized and has way over 280 students, most schools do. about 1200 is the average, so JK's estimate would make sense in a realistic comparing with other schools. Also, the size of a classroom in the HP Universe is not a factor. If cars and vehicles can be charmed to hold many more people than is natural, why can't a classroom?

Posted by Salaniya Verena Black from Sussex on July 15, 2009 09:11 AM

well i believe that there's not an exact amoung of students per house or per year. Because of the sorting hat. Maybe there are more people in one year that other or maybe there are more hufflepuffs in one year than ravenclaws. soo it's all relative. That's my humble opinion.

Posted by NatalyB on July 26, 2009 9:53 PM

if we take into account different elements from the book it is reasonable to say there are about 800 kids at Hogwarts.
We know for a fact some gryffindor students are never mentionned. I think It'd rather be 30 students per house and year which gives us a total of 840 students. We only know aboit Harry's closest friends it doesn't mean ther aren't many other students.

Posted by Geoffrey Laforge from Paris, France on July 29, 2009 5:56 PM

In GoF (I think) there were 100 carriages... figure, like Harry, Hermione, Ron and Neville, (4) in one yields 400 in second through seventh year (66 per year). If we assume approximately the same ratio per house there would be about 16 first years per house to get the total of 66 and there would be approx 466 students total.

Even if we figure 5 per coach with similar parameters the figure is 560. So +/- 500 seems logical (IMHO) based on this.

As far as the Quidditch Cup game... my guess is alumni and folks from Hogsmeade would help account for the crowd.

Posted by Neil from Chico, CA on August 1, 2009 8:03 PM

Yes, there are other wizarding schools. In the fourth book (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) students from two other schools come to compete. Beauxbatons Academy and the Durmstrang Institute

Posted by Simone from New Zealand on October 8, 2009 5:12 PM

However, In the sorting ofthe first book there seemed to be more hufflepuffs. And if the castle had held 1000 students then Harry Ron and Hermione would have to push through lots of people on their common room to get where they wanted, also in the common room there cant be around 50 sofas because they wouldnt get their soft armchair by the fire al the time. The Hufflepuffs common room is near the kitchens so it must be larrge enough to at least fit 100 students. The Slytherin common room is under the lake so they couldnt fit 250 students there. In the Ravenclaw it is in a tower so there wouuld probably be about 50 students add them up with my estimate
80G+100H+50R+70S=300 Hogwarts + about 14 teachers not to mention about 10 ghosts come tomy estimate is 324 apprx.

Posted by Sy from Australia on October 30, 2009 3:57 PM

Ii was just reading the 4th book and it says "the house tables had vanished; instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern lit ones, each seating about a dozen people.'

So this is only 4th years and above + guests and 20 other students of Beauxbatons and Durmstrang and teachers.

12 times 100
= 1200
plus the three other years who didnt attend. Id say the school was about 1500ish
This is on page 360 of goblet of fire.
Don't yell at me i just think its a big school.
Its in a castle!

Posted by Michael from Australia on November 11, 2009 03:53 AM

The British wizards might have sent their children to other school like Beauxbatons Academy or Durmstrang Institute. Remember in GoF when Malfoy was saying his father wanted to send him to Durmstrang, but it was too far for his mother. The British wizards might be abroad.

Posted by coolness from Cairo on November 11, 2009 12:11 PM

I think it's safe to say that if the author says there's 1000 students, then her word is law. Personally I always assumed double potions meant that the class was twice as long. That's just my input.

Posted by Ason on November 22, 2009 1:55 PM

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