World Map of PISA 2015 Results





There were problems with data collection in Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Malaysia, so their results must be treated with caution.

Furthermore: “Because the results of Kazakhstan in 2015 are based only on multiple-choice items, they cannot be reliably compared to the results of other countries, nor to Kazakhstan’s results in previous assessments” (pp. 81 of the report).

Data for China was drawn from four provinces: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. Since the first three of these are known to be cognitive clusters, they are not perfectly representative of China. For further discussion go here: PISA 2015 Released: China Disappoints.


Country Math Reading Science Mean “IQ”
Singapore 564 535 556 551.7 107.8
Hong Kong (China) 548 527 523 532.7 104.9
Japan 532 516 538 528.7 104.3
Macao (China) 544 509 529 527.3 104.1
Estonia 520 519 534 524.3 103.7
Canada 516 527 528 523.7 103.6
Chinese Taipei 542 497 532 523.7 103.6
Finland 511 526 531 522.7 103.4
Korea 524 517 516 519.0 102.9
B-S-J-G (China) 531 494 518 514.3 102.2
Ireland 504 521 503 509.3 101.4
Slovenia 510 505 513 509.3 101.4
Germany 506 509 509 508.0 101.2
Netherlands 512 503 509 508.0 101.2
Switzerland 521 492 506 506.3 101.0
New Zealand 495 509 513 505.7 100.9
Denmark 511 500 502 504.3 100.7
Norway 502 513 498 504.3 100.7
Poland 504 506 501 503.7 100.6
Belgium 507 499 502 502.7 100.4
Australia 494 503 510 502.3 100.4
Viet Nam 495 487 525 502.3 100.4
United Kingdom 492 498 509 499.7 100.0
Portugal 492 498 501 497.0 99.6
France 493 499 495 495.7 99.4
Sweden 494 500 493 495.7 99.4
Austria 497 485 495 492.3 98.9
Russia 494 495 487 492.0 98.8
Spain 486 496 493 491.7 98.8
Czech Republic 492 487 493 490.7 98.6
United States 470 497 496 487.7 98.2
Latvia 482 488 490 486.7 98.0
Italy 490 485 481 485.3 97.8
Luxembourg 486 481 483 483.3 97.5
Iceland 488 482 473 481.0 97.2
Croatia 464 487 475 475.3 96.3
Lithuania 478 472 475 475.0 96.3
Hungary 477 470 477 474.7 96.2
Israel 470 479 467 472.0 95.8
Argentina (CABA) 456 475 475 468.7 95.3
Malta 479 447 465 463.7 94.6
Slovak Republic 475 453 461 463.0 94.5
Greece 454 467 455 458.7 93.8
Kazakhstan 460 427 456 447.7 92.2
Chile 423 459 447 443.0 91.5
Malaysia 446 431 443 440.0 91.0
Bulgaria 441 432 446 439.7 91.0
Cyprus 437 443 433 437.7 90.7
Romania 444 434 435 437.7 90.7
United Arab Emirates 427 434 437 432.7 89.9
Uruguay 418 437 435 430.0 89.5
Turkey 420 428 425 424.3 88.7
Trinidad and Tobago 417 427 425 423.0 88.5
Argentina 409 425 432 422.0 88.3
Moldova 420 416 428 421.3 88.2
Montenegro 418 427 411 418.7 87.8
Mexico 408 423 416 415.7 87.4
Costa Rica 400 427 420 415.7 87.4
Albania 413 405 427 415.0 87.3
Thailand 415 409 421 415.0 87.3
Colombia 390 425 416 410.3 86.6
Qatar 402 402 418 407.3 86.1
Georgia 404 401 411 405.3 85.8
Jordan 380 408 409 399.0 84.9
Indonesia 386 397 403 395.3 84.3
Brazil 377 407 401 395.0 84.3
Peru 387 398 397 394.0 84.1
Lebanon 396 347 386 376.3 81.5
Tunisia 367 361 386 371.3 80.7
FYROM 371 352 384 369.0 80.4
Kosovo 362 347 378 362.3 79.4
Algeria 360 350 376 362.0 79.3
Dominican Republic 328 358 332 339.3 75.9
OECD Average 490 493 493 492.0 98.8

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. If you think PISA scores correlate so well with IQ that they might as well be equivalent to it, then why the hell do immigrant groups in Europe far far exceed those in their homeland despite not being selected for intelligence (in fact, you might argue many are selected for stupidity)?
    Don’t you think there are huge confounding variables that mediate this relationship, as opposed to the PISA test being some sort of IQ test?

  2. Why omit science scores? As I understand it, the majority of PISA 2015 questions were on science.

    AK: They weren’t omitted.

  3. … why the hell do immigrant groups in Europe far far exceed those in their homeland

    Because Europe has far better schooling and nutritional standards. You can call it an “accelerated Flynn effect.”

    Unfortunately, however, convergence is rarely total.

    Don’t you think there are huge confounding variables that mediate this relationship, as opposed to the PISA test being some sort of IQ test?

    The g-Factor of International Cognitive Ability Comparisons: The Homogeneity of Results in PISA, TIMSS, PIRLS and IQ-Tests Across Nations (Rindermann 2007)

    International cognitive ability and achievement comparisons stem from different research traditions. But analyses at the interindividual data level show that they share a common positive manifold. Correlations of national ability means are even higher to very high (within student assessment studies, r = .60–.98; between different student assessment studies [PISA-sum with TIMSS-sum] r = .82–.83; student assessment sum with intelligence tests, r = .85–.86). Results of factor analyses indicate a strong g-factor of differences between nations (variance explained by the first unrotated factor: 94–95%). Causes of the high correlations are seen in the similarities of tests within studies, in the similarities of the cognitive demands for tasks from different tests, and in the common developmental factors at the individual and national levels including known environmental and unknown genetic influences.

  4. Maybe time to concede that Slovenia doesn’t have an average IQ of ~95-96 as Richard Lynn & Co would suggest

  5. Чем аукнется Казахстану данная проблема?

  6. It takes into account the difference in relation to the tests in different countries? As far as I know (from stories of expats) In Japan and South Korea, the tests are very important – in many cases people have to pass a test for IQ when trying to get a job. As a result, people specifically trained to pass these tests.

    In Russia, the IQ tests are perceived as a funny curiosity – these tests are considered to be entertainment

  7. Triumph104 says

    Every cultural group has a maximum level of achievement that can be obtained without giving up the values and behavior of their culture. Immigrant groups in Europe exceed their homeland because they moved to a more efficient education system. This is observed with different cultural groups in the US.

    States where Native Americans are primarily schooled on reservations show that those Native American students perform worst on the ACT than blacks. However, in states where Native Americans primarily attend non-reservation schools, they perform better than blacks on the ACT. Puerto Ricans on the island of Puerto Rico test worst than blacks Americans on PISA, but Puerto Ricans in the states test better than blacks on the SAT.

    US Hispanics outperformed all Spanish-speaking countries on PISA except for Spain.

  8. Thanks for the map.

    Looking at the list, I laugh to myself seeing UAE and Romania being neck & neck. Iceland’s IQ is also laughable, i.e. unreliable. Sure, if you take a very broad view, you will find that there is some coherency to the general pattern but that is also true for TIMMS. It isn’t nearly as accurate to serve as a ranking seen in the table. If anyone seriously believes that UAE is on par demographically with Romania then they’ve disqualified themselves completely.

    Yet the PISA worshippers in the HBD blogosphere will continue insisting of its high value and sing its virtues. It sets out exactly what it aims to do: measure the education system. That performance is constrained by IQ but still allows for heavy fluctation. Iceland having 97 in IQ is not consistent with their development or past performance, or the plethora of IQ tests given to Icelandish students. Romania being at 90 is a joke.

    Kill the holy cow once and for all and be done with it.

  9. Re: the high Estonian ranking.

    Are ethnic Russians in Estonia increasing the score, or bring it down? From the Russian score, I would guess the latter.

    Which makes me wonder how high can Estonia go without being dragged down by Russia? Would they even beat Singapore?

  10. how are you converting pisa scores into IQ scores?

  11. Transforming the PISA scale (m=500, S.D.=100) in the OECD countries, to the standard IQ scale (m=100, S.D.=15).

  12. Online at there are tables Table 1.74a, Table 1.74b and Table 1.74c which break down raw native-immigrant (second and first generation) score differences within participating nations.

    Using these scores, I ran a PCA to pull out a general factor in the quality of natives performance:

    (Text version: Save as a .csv file to open as a spreadsheet)

    Graphically this is:

    Using the first PC1 dimension should gives a slightly better measure than using the average of scores, because it isn’t thrown off by outliers in any particular one of the 3 PISA subtests (Math, Reading or Science), like Viet Nam’s outlying science score.

    Convert these into “IQ” on the assumption that the UK is the “Greenwich Mean” of 100 and Japan is 104.3 and scores are as follows, for natives:

    (Text version:

  13. Pure guess but Iceland’s score looks to me like a perfect way to test if low-level inbreeding depression can happen in an enclosed population even when they’re actively trying to be exogamous (Iceland’s ancestry book).

    idea being

    height and IQ take energy so where it’s not needed a seemingly “deleterious” allele may not be deleterious (at the time) and so can become homozygous among a small population i.e. selecting for minimum necessary height/IQ (at least in the past).

    If so making that homozygous allele go away would(?) be a good job for CRISPR.

  14. My thinking about Iceland was a bit more prosaic, that in such a small culture, where you’ve got what, 300,000 people total and a fairly small percentage are schoolkids and teachers, then you’ve got more opportunity for short term random cultural fluctuations to swing the performance. While in a big population that can’t happen as much.

    Like the opposite of how they excelled in the Euro 2016 football tournament, where they’d applied a lot of specialised knowledge to hone their performance. Small fluctuations and intensive interventions can shifting the mean in a small population, while they just average out in large nations.

    I don’t really know specifically about the idea of alleles with big tradeoffs being selected in smaller populations with fewer competing mutations. I do see what you’re talking about with inbreeding depression, but it seems like they should be all f*d up in lots of different ways if that’s true, and it seems like not really, like they have the highest male life expectancies.

    The Iceland natives converted “IQ” score by my method is kind of low, but then if you look at Slovenia, Czech Republic, Slovakia which are all these really close by European nations, they go 101.8 to 97.8 to 93.3, so quite a big swing is possibly for closely related countries, and there’s not necessarily a genetic explanation.

  15. more opportunity for short term random cultural fluctuations to swing the performance

    like they have the highest male life expectancies.

    both of those plausibly point in the other direction

    and there’s not necessarily a genetic explanation

    Agreed but it would be interesting to test if there was.

  16. Andrei kuznetsov says

    How come countries like Russia,South Korea gets a lower score in your chart? The average Russian native is smarter than the average immigrant while in south Korea case they should have the same score like Japan and China because they barely have any immigrants to affect the score. In booth your chart and karelin one Japan and China has exactly the same score so its strange for me that Korea is lower.

  17. @ Andrei kuznetsov, the scores should generally go down for countries with fewer migrants compared to Anatoly’s because these are only considering natives, all the scores have been normed relative to the British->Japan natives gap, and Britain gains on most other countries with few migrants when only its natives are considered (because across most nations immigrants perform less well and are of a significant number, with the biggest gaps in Germanic North-Central Europe, who also have fairly large migrant populations).

    So I think it’s mainly due to the difference in the scores that’s anchor the mean of 100.

    I was also considering there might be a slight difference where I am calculating the first PC of the scores as a sort of g factor of the PISA results, compared to Anatoly using the average. As the different PISA subtests have a floor and ceiling and average at different levels, the Principal Components Analysis is just on the correlation of the PISA variables.

    But that said, the two measures of Average for Natives and PC1 look essentially perfectly correlated –, so I think any differences from method there is very minimal as an effect and using the average essentially generates an identical outcome.

    Just for comparison, using Anatoly’s method of the average, for native scores, and then converting to IQ based on the same assumption of Japan 104.3 and UK 100:

    (Here’s the raw numbers in CSV format –

    If you reckon there might still some other differences, I’d recommend to check out the spreadsheet I linked to as it’s easy to pull out the natives PISA scores from that and you can compare to see if there’s anything gone wrong with the values for natives I’ve copied and used, and if you find anything then please comment back in the thread.

  18. Anatoly-please note West is aging rapidly. Germany in fact has outpaced Japan! Germany is the engine of Europe. France has big problem with rural areas left behind, which is fueling swing to hopeless Le Pen. France needs to create something like Germany’s Fraunhofer.

    Canada and Australia stuck in trap of commodity/resource dependent economy. PISA results meaningless for them until govt wakes up from coma-before too late as already aging. In both countries immigrants leave because limited job market for skilled immigrants. Probably just use passports to settle /work elsewhere.

    China- very impressive! You should check out Joseph Needham’s books on China’s innovations.

    China also only country where farmers make working submarines, robots, etc from scrap metal!

    Poor people improve over time, unless education inequitable.