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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 6)

I can see why the size of the common room is an issue. Gryffindor and Rawenclaw have a whole tower each. I think there can easily be up to 250 kids in a tower. but I have done the math myself and came up with 280 just like you, but we can only follow what J.K. is saying.

Posted by Peter from Slagelse, Denmark on December 21, 2007 12:46 PM

When i read the book i thought there would be well more than 1000. In the first book when she describes the vastness of the hall you would think there were at least 2000 of them! And if there is only 30-40 students in each year, doesnt that mean there would not be many kids in the school?

Also when you said about double potions being a double class like griffindor and slytherin I always thought she meant like a double period of work.

Posted by Nhhh from Glasgow on December 22, 2007 2:53 PM

Dave makes a very good observation that many fans have been struggling with pretty much ever since she has said that, including myself. Jo has been, both in the books and out, somewhat inconsistent with this particular bit of information. It really is all up to the reader's imagination I suppose.

Movies aside, there are at least two pieces of solid evidence that there are approximately 800 to 1000 students at Hogwarts:

"Three quarters of the crowd were wearing scarlet rosettes, waving scarlet flags with the Gyffindor lion upon them... Behind the Slytherin goal posts, however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glittered on their flags..." (PA, US pg 305)

This would imply that 200 people equals one quarter, and thus about 800 students in the school.

"The House tables had vanished; instead, there were about a hundred smaller, lantern lit ones, each seating a dozen people." (GF, US pg 415)

That means about 1200 seats. Seeing as that there are only two dozen foreign students and five judges, That means over 1000 Hogwarts students and staff.

I suppose that larger class sizes would be a bit difficult to handle for a Muggle teacher, but we're dealing with magic here. While there is a very small ratio of teachers to students, those teachers are also witches and wizards, most of them pretty powerful, and in the teaching profession for a number of years. If the classes were really only about 20 students, it would be a lot more difficult for Harry, Ron, and Hermione to have caused enough mayhem to steal the boomslang skin without Severus seeing what they were up to and putting a stop to it before it happened, or knowing for sure that they did it.

One of the big pieces of evidence of a lower number of students at Hogwarts, and what everyone seems to base their calculations on, is that there are only five four post beds in Harry's dorm, one each for him, Ron, Seamus, Dean, and Neville. It not only does not mention that there are other dorms, but also, when Harry gets to his dorm for the first time in Chamber of Secrets, the sign on his dorm says "Second Years", implying that this is the second year dorm. But, perhaps it is merely A second year dorm. Notice that it is in the same location as his dorm throughout his time at Hogwarts; it didn't move and the first years were in a different dorm. This idea opens the possibility that there were other unmentioned dorms and therefore other unmentioned students in Harry's year.

Philosopher's Stone mentions twenty-two (twenty-three in the US version) students being sorted in Harry's year - divided by 4 Houses comes to about 6 students per House. Among those not mentioned are Dean Thomas (well, in the UK version, anyway), Anthony Goldstein, Ernie MacMillan, both Crabbe and Goyle, the mysterious Daphne Greengrass, and potentially Michael Corner and Eloise Midgen (I don't think their years were mentioned). Hannah's the only "A" name and Hermione's the only "G" name, then there are 5 "B" names, 5 "P" names, but only 3 "M" names - the most popular last initial among English names, and the list goes straight from "B" to "F", "G" to "L", "P" to "T" to "W" to "Z", indicating by ratio that quite a few were skipped.

From a writer's perspective, it would be difficult to keep track of more than a relative handful of student characters, and I take this as the reason that Jo never really mentions more than a few. We can't really even say that there are fewer students in Harry's year than others simply because she never mentions them. On a similar note, adding the movies back in for a moment, there are budget constraints to consider, and in some respects a director can really only be as faithful to the book as his/her budget allows.

There are inconsistencies within the "cannon" of the books, though. Consider the number of thestral drawn carriages that carry the 2nd-7th years to the castle. There are described one hundred of them, and each seats about four (reference books 3, 4, and 5). Easy math: 100 carriage times 4 students per carriage is 400 students, and about 67 students per year or 16 per House; this is a little bit more in line with Dave's calculations. When the foreign students sit at the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables, Harry notices a "considerable" increase in the number of occupants, I find it difficult to believe that he'd have noticed 12 more students among 200-250. During flying lessons in Philosopher's Stone, there are 20 broomsticks on the ground - this is a "double" lesson with the Slytherins, implying 10 students per house in Harry's first year.

For those that got confused by or didn't have the time or energy to read my waffling, here's a summary: most of the math actually in the books, taking into consideration that some things might simply not have been mentioned, indicates that there were indeed about 1000 students at Hogwarts, but there are a few suggestions in the books themselves that there were fewer. Whichever you imagine yourself would be correct.

Posted by monkeeshrines from orlando fl on December 22, 2007 4:24 PM

In the Prisoner of Azkaban Rowling says that in the Gryffindor vs. Slytherin match, 200 students wore green clothes, this means Slytherin has about 200 students, giving a total of about 800 students in total, more if we assume not all Slytherins went to the match or showed support. Nevertheless, Rowling aleays mentions Quidditch i extremely popular so the real number of Slytherins should be about 200. Another problem is that we don't know if all houses have the same number of students.

Posted by Ropaseca from Bogotá, COL on December 24, 2007 5:16 PM

wow I've never thought of that before. You are completely right. I'm so glad you made that clear because I've always wondered as I've read the books how many people attend Hogwarts. even though Ive read the entire series 8 complete times I still haven't figured it out. That is so cool!

Posted by Luna on December 25, 2007 10:23 AM

I've always thought the numbers were a little wierd. I knew there couldn't be that many student in the school unless for some reason Gryffindor was smaller than the other houses and Harry's year was the smallest of all of them, that would make sense since my school has one grade that had 10 students last year and another that had 27 (It's a very small school). But, if all the years and houses are the same, that, as you said, wouldn't add up.

Posted by anonymous on December 26, 2007 02:10 AM

If you read J.K. Rowling's quote correctly, she says "about a thousand students", keyword: about. Therefore the actual number could be anywhere between, say, 600 (or so) and 1000. If you do the math for numbers closer to 600, then the results come out about right. I think there's about 9-20 students in each year of each house, and not nessarily the same number of girls and guys in each year or each house.

And as to the movies: they leave out a lot of stuff, and add in even more. So the numbers shown are just that: they are for show. And since Hogwarts is always changing (i.e.: Room of Requirement) rooms could be adjusted to fit the number of students, and so allowing however many students to be in a room at once.

Posted by Keeley from Mongolia on December 28, 2007 7:16 PM

You also have to take into consideration that there were students who were in the same house who were taking a different class as others, just like our schools. If you remember in book 3 how Hermione was in two classes at the same time. If we keep that in mind then you do have the possibility that there are 1000 students at Hogwarts. Also if you think back to book 4 when the Weasleys and friends went to the Quidditch World Cup they all stayed in a small looking tent, but when they went inside there were multiple rooms and plenty of space. Also the same thing with the car Mr. Weasley drove and enchanted to create enough room for everyone to sit comfortably inside. I truely think that there are 1000 students in Hogwarts and that there's room for all of them.

Posted by Jazzmine Duff from Columbus, Ohio on December 28, 2007 10:30 PM

I never really cared how many students were at Hogwarts, because, come on, this is fantasy! J.K. Rowling never really made a point of telling exactly how many students were at Hogwarts, and we don't always have to account for every single person that might be somewhere in the castle. Not Every Slytherin might have been at the Quidditch pitch in PoA, not everyone besides the first years goes up to the castle in carriages pulled by thestrals, Harry and Ron didn't their second year. And maybe, who knows, there are Undetectable Extension Charms in some of them? It doesn't really matter.

Posted by C.J. from Utah on December 28, 2007 11:13 PM

I think the smaller number makes more sense. Because, if I remember correctly from the movies, when they were having double potions, Slytherin was with them as well. But, after looking at monkeeshrines post, I am swaying towards the larger numbers. Because, as mentioned by many, the movies do not tend to go with the real number. Plus, having about 2000 extras would be a bit hectic and chaotic. Possibly budget saving would be the answer to the reason of small numbers in the movies?

Posted by -HK-potter on December 29, 2007 04:57 AM

"Behind the Slytherin goal posts, however, two hundred people were wearing green; the silver serpent of Slytherin glittered on their flags"

There could easily be other than just students among them. Like in the movies where you can see Lucius in the stands. Other parents could be seeing their children play quidditch.

Posted by SpeedY from Slagelse, Denmark on December 30, 2007 03:54 AM

I am inclined to believe that there are fewer students at Hogwarts, more in line with Dave's calculations. I am ing to believe that JK made a mistake in an interview and with numbers in two places in the book. I would be severely disappointed if, on the other hand, we only heard about a tiny portion of the 1000 students in the school. Also, in book 6, when Harry is holding Quidditch try-outs, he considers around 40 students (I could be off about the exact number, I do not have my book with me to check) a huge number. If there were indeed 250 gryffindor students, 40 students, or less than 1 in 5, would not be that large a group. Another reason I believe the number is smaller is that, in the scenes where the Gryffindor common room is full, Harry still seems to be able to describe everything going on, which would be almost impossible with 250 students.

Posted by Rene from Edmonton on December 31, 2007 10:04 PM

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