Test Scores Reveal Top Countries with the Smartest Students

We determined the countries that excel in terms of educational achievement and intelligence based on the PISA test scores.

What Is PISA?

congratulating achievements in school

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a global study that began in 2000.

It aims to assess and compare participating countries’ education systems by testing students’ skills and knowledge.

How Is PISA Conducted

teacher smilinig selfie

Every three years, a random group of fifteen-year-olds are evaluated in key subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science.

What makes PISA unique is that it creates tests that are not directly related to the school curriculum. It also provides context through background questionnaires, which help analysts interpret the results.

How Is PISA Conducted

shutterstock 2254343925

These tests are designed to measure students’ ability to apply their knowledge in real-life situations and be active participants in society upon completing compulsory education.

Test Results Are In

Pronoun Examples

600,000 15-year-old students in 79 countries participated in PISA in 2018, which had to be postponed in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Here are the most recent mean scores available from the 2018 cohort in reading, mathematics, and science:

27. Austria

high schoolers taking test

Reading: 484

Mathematics: 499

Science: 490

Total score: 1,473

26. Portugal

girl with backpack at school

Reading: 492

Mathematics: 492

Science: 492

Total score: 1,476

25. France

french women

Reading: 493

Mathematics: 495

Science: 493

Total score: 1,481

24. United States

proud us american student

Reading: 505

Mathematics: 478

Science: 502

Total score: 1,485

23. Czech Republic

middle schooler smiling

Reading: 490

Mathematics: 499

Science: 497

Total score: 1,486

22. Norway

boy completing assignment

Reading: 499

Mathematics: 501

Science: 490

Total score: 1,490

21. Switzerland

teen listening in class

Reading: 484

Mathematics: 515

Science: 495

Total score: 1,494

20. Belgium

high school student

Reading: 493

Mathematics: 508

Science: 499

Total score: 1,500

19. Germany

shutterstock 1671266248

Reading: 498

Mathematics: 500

Science: 503

Total score: 1,501

18. Denmark

teenage advice

Reading: 501

Mathematics: 509

Science: 493

Total score: 1,503

17. Netherlands

shutterstock 2351381069 Custom

Reading: 485

Mathematics: 519

Science: 503

Total score: 1,507

16. Sweden

shutterstock 2209710853

Reading: 506

Mathematics: 502

Science: 499

Total score: 1,507

15. New Zealand

woman with book in library

Reading: 506

Mathematics: 494

Science: 508

Total score: 1,508

14. Slovenia

shutterstock 797218453

Reading: 495

Mathematics: 509

Science: 507

Total score: 1,511

13. United Kingdom

shutterstock 2015705534

Reading: 504

Mathematics: 502

Science: 505

Total score: 1,511

12. Ireland

irish person red hair

Reading: 518

Mathematics: 500

Science: 496

Total score: 1,514

11. Poland

reading book in library

Reading: 512

Mathematics: 516

Science: 511

Total score: 1,539

10. Finland

studying learning online

Reading: 520

Mathematics: 507

Science: 522

Total score: 1,549

9. Chinese Taipei

shutterstock 1681212856

Reading: 503

Mathematics: 531

Science: 516

Total score: 1,550

8. Canada

shutterstock 1903232821 Custom

Reading: 520

Mathematics: 512

Science: 518

Total score: 1,550

7. Korea

asian student

Reading: 514

Mathematics: 526

Science: 519

Total score: 1,559

6. Japan

shutterstock 1873450135

Reading: 504

Mathematics: 527

Science: 529

Total score: 1,560

5. Estonia

shutterstock 2270070569 scaled e1694477314467

Reading: 523

Mathematics: 523

Science: 530

Total score: 1,576

4. Hong Kong (China)

shutterstock 2268492269 Custom

Reading: 524

Mathematics: 551

Science: 517

Total score: 1,592

3. Macao (China)

serious asian teen

Reading: 525

Mathematics: 558

Science: 544

Total score: 1,627

2. Singapore

shutterstock 1433736386 Custom

Reading: 549

Mathematics: 569

Science: 551

Total score: 1,669

1. B-S-J-Z (China)

high schooler asian

Reading: 555

Mathematics: 591

Science: 590

Total score: 1,736

Preparing Students For Real Life

asian students smiling in classroom happily

In short, PISA is a comprehensive assessment tool that aims to provide insight into the effectiveness of education systems worldwide and prepare students for real-world challenges.

PISA offers only a limited perspective on a country’s intelligence, as it fails to consider crucial factors like innovation, creativity, and social intelligence.

The Importance Of PISA

teacher with students

However, PISA plays a vital role in ensuring that our future generations are equipped with the necessary skills to thrive in a globalized society. So, it is important to continue supporting and participating in this assessment process to drive improvements in education globally.

Notable Results

boy listening to teacher in class

Mean mathematics and science test scores were above average for the Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Switzerland, but their mean score for reading was not significantly different than the OECD average.

Notable Results

shutterstock 2251647951

The U.S. mean mathematical performance was below the OECD average, but their reading and science scores helped them make the list of the top-performing countries.

Austria, Latvia, and Iceland also maintained mean mathematic scores above the OECD average.

Read More: 11 Problems Only Smart People Have

eAjOENrAXLOOdq1NJhGIZ7YWX2TZLrM2PQ1pXMvg6uU5VBELA X1zjDFJj8kN pzPv1cgK lvlhV1GWqqWbnbgTWQTyvF051j4iE7nRDxLuQt7Oiu 4rsr7XfYGGqfYJs1wwDOf 4htjnWEVs74wkMs

Smart people have it easy — or that’s the assumption.

Read Next: 11 Problems Only Smart People Have

Read More: The Worst Things Teachers Have Confiscated

iuTx xGMmJPGLn2szVznpN3auqBqxL47 9jkEfBfUNkxcxvh QZGmEqgO3 aLkcRIxrzbm G rZdw4qIsy

Teachers have seen it all. So we asked them: what was the worst thing they had ever confiscated from a student?

Their answers would be enough to put you off the teaching career for life.

Read Now: The 20 Worst Things Teachers Have Confiscated From Students

Read More: She Didn’t Want Her Son To Sleep At His Girlfriend’s Because “Something Felt Very Off”— And She Was Right

DQ7NxapnnrdJfojC7Ti 7X CzZ 5LRXPacMmYp8bjJadFO7l3NJqIMShvaFSPr6YcnYAn0pKVKMtp541J8KMP d43S 4a9RIXvvRX97uIX6WaZjeSm7h FOnJiBgnrNQ6r LBgr9hFJ202MTV5n7fKA

To a child, parents’ rules and restrictions may seem arbitrary and controlling. While the occasional rule might be strict, hindsight usually reveals that—more often than not—a parent’s intuition was right.

Read Now: She Didn’t Want Her Son To Sleep At His Girlfriend’s Because “Something Felt Very Off”— And She Was Right

Read More: Teaching or Chatting?

ZCtk2ijBQGe5Ao7jKleD4s2orBhxeWt3MqmG gI6TLvVp0 wIBvrs3LChYsiNl7GgX4X64i8E5ikd7j8Lh1Pm9VQcBl30RG0eg1DSjMuepB3o7ZsEWU3UkoaXRw9Je2ft MFfSd95HquX gmcBI9wo

Did you know that up to 45% of all Americans have a side gig? Do you?

We found probably one of the most enjoyable, rewarding ways to earn money by teaching (chatting) with those who want to learn English online. Log in any time you want, 24/7, and get paid weekly for the hours you put in.

Learn More: Cambly 2023 Review, Requirements & Pay For Tutors (Beginner Friendly)

Read More: Dad Let His Son Take “Toy” To Show and Tell, Not Knowing What It Really Was

C7E7wodAyiNbOtYAuhclezOxHaghxJ1sGT B5NqrauIO0a2nkESRLgZyuoylpYk8Uo3j08oJqxyYLHDQEcJvH68kIn3flBGIUf 2g4VjG0NcwLRVxG5ISTVKVgTwBBzgSLSuWzHPJk9

When Mom’s away, Dad and son will play.

Read More: Dad Let His Son Take “Toy” To Show and Tell, Not Knowing What It Really Was

This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments