Harry's O.W.L.s - Herein Be Spoilers Unboxed

Since we will have to wait until “Harry Potter and the Half-Breed Prince” comes out to discover how many O.W.L.s The Boy Who Lived received, I thought we could pass the time with some idle speculation.

Here are my guesses:

Harry flunked Astronomy, unless they grade on the curve. He didn’t complete his star chart, because he (and the others) were watching Hagrid fight off the attempt to carry him off to Azkaban, and the stunning of Professor McGonigle. (I wonder how well McGonigle will recover from this - it mentions that she was walking with a stick when she returned.)

I also think he flunked Divination, although it is hard to say how well anyone without “the Gift” would do on the exam. Maybe he will take some remedial work with Firenze, but I suspect he will abandon the subject without much regret.

He also flunked History of Magic, since he fell asleep and had the vision of Sirius and Voldemort before he could finish his test, and refused even the chance to go back and round off his last answer.

Obviously he got Outstanding on his Defense Against the Dark Arts. So did a lot of people who were in Dumbledore’s Army and benefitted from his tutelage. And I expect he got E or at least a Pass in Charms and Transfigurations. He will also get a Pass in Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures.

In Potions, I suspect he will get a Pass, and then there will be a big fight where Snape tries to prevent him from studying for his N.E.W.T. in the subject and Dumbledore and McGonigle push to get Harry admitted. The dynamic between Snape and Harry is too important to the series to be allowed to drop into the background without daily contact between Snape and Harry, so Harry will be allowed into the advanced class on probation and Snape will do his best to flunk Harry out.

So I expect Harry to get six O.W.L.s. He didn’t study Runes or Arithmancy as Hermione did, so that seems to me to be his upper limit.

It seems to me that six O.W.L.s is not an unusually high or low number. The push will be to get Harry trained as an Auror despite his rather ordinary academic record, and thus tension where it appears he is getting special treatment because of his background. FWIW, I expect Ron to outdo Harry somewhat, which would continue the trend where Ron both comes into his own as prefect and Keeper while Harry is neither prefect nor Seeker thru out most of Order of the Phoenix. This may set up a change in the Ron-Harry relationship, where Ron and Harry both play Quidditch where Harry does better, but Ron does better outside the Quidditch pitch.

Hermione will, of course, get all Outstandings except one E, which she will fret about.

If any Doper knows more about the British grading system and could explain the parallels to an American, I would be grateful so we could see what Rowling’s assumptions are about Harry’s further academic career.

Your thoughts, speculations, insights, disagreements?


I think he’ll get special treatment “because of his background,” and they’d be fools not to look at his accomplishments when considering him. Academics is one thing, and he’s proven that, even with less time to study he can rise to the required level. It shows that he knows his priorities are (1) Defeat Ultimate Evil and Survive Assassination Attempts, and then (2) Get Good Enough Grades, and (3) Make Sure Quidditch Team Wins. I’m sure you’re not arguing that he should be kept from his choice, though – I’m just arguing on his behalf. I don’t think anyone except Snape would seriously consider Harry a poor choice for Auror.

I think that Ron is rapidly going to eclipse Harry at Hogwarts, possibly becoming Head Boy. He might even be in a position where his authority and responsibility force him into a nasty bind.

SNAPE: “Mr. Weasley, may I remind you that prefects – and especially the Head Boy – have a duty to uphold all of the rules at Hogwarts in an equitable and just fashion? Now, I’m only going to ask you once more: who has been sneaking out of the Gryffindor dorms on your watch?”

RON: “Oh, bugger this for a lark, Snape, and bollocks to you, too. If I tell you that it was Harry then he’ll never be able to complete his trap for Voldemort. But if I don’t, then you kick me out and make Malfoy Head Boy, and then Harry won’t be able to sneak out any more, with the same result. And if I rat out Neville instead, he’ll get in trouble for no good reason, and that’s not hardly fair. Snape, you’re an utter bastard. Now, to cast a memory charm so you forget I ever said this…”

Harry’s powers in the early book were enough to carry him, but I predict that the overriding lesson in the last books is that he needs to learn to trust his friends to handle things. He might be able to do any of the individual spells with more power, but Hermione is more reliable, Ron has pure guts (and loyalty, and courage, and so on), and Neville has a quiet strength and a burning desire for revenge. I want to see Harry successfully leading a “cell” of Dumbledore’s Army the same way that Ender had to work with his team near the end of Ender’s Game. Even more interesting: I want Malfoy, Crabbe, or Goyle to be on the team, so that he has to count on his former enemies.

What I hope is that there isn’t some loophole to let Harry pass these two subjects - “Oh, we’re giving everyone a pass in Astronomy since you were all disturbed by the commotion. Take a pass in History of Magic too; we can’t expect you to perform to the best of your ability when you’re having hallucinations about Voldemort!”

I think Ron will outdo Harry as well, and of course Hermione is on the fast track to Head Girl-dom.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Malfoy became Head Boy. He may be a jerk, but I get the impression that he has been doing quite well in school. Not as well as Hermione (a fact that his father scolds him on in Chamber of Secrets), but good anyway.

I don’t know about that, Rabid Child. Remember, in Malfoy’s world, it’s not what you know, but whom you know… And wasn’t there some awkwardness in Malfoy’s OWLs when it turned out that he knew the wrong people? The only class where we’ve seen Malfoy doing well is in Potions, where Snape cheats on his behalf (or turns a blind eye to Draco’s cheating, or whatever), and we’ve seen several times that he doesn’t pay attention in class (insulting the hippogriff, for instance: While he got a lot of milage out of it, I can’t see him doing it if he realized beforehand it’d get him mauled).

But certainly, the only thing more certain than Hermione making Head Girl is Ginny doing so the next year. Now there’s a thought: Hermione and Draco serving together as heads.

Jurph, while such a conflict of interests may come up with Ron as a prefect (and already has, to some extent), I doubt it’ll work with him as Head Boy. By that time, we’d be in the seventh year and last book, and I think that the Harry-Snape relationship will have to be resolved (one way or another) by then.

Possibly. I need to re-read the fifth book. :smiley:

Your assesment seems mostly accurate, Shodan, though Harry might have done better on his potions than a pass, which will infuriate Snape. I also think there might be general leniency for both the Divination and the Astronomy students. The examiners will probably take into account the special circumstances during the astronomy exam, and as for divination, after 15 years of Trewlaney’s teaching methods, the examiners will probably have fairly low expectations of Hogwarts’ Divination students :D.

I wonder if Harry will even have time Quidditch, with everyone in his life? Maybe working towards being an Auror will push everything else to the side?

I’ve been told OWLs are the Wizarding equivalent of something called GCSE. The NEWTs are the equivalent of a-levels. Follow the links for short descriptions.


I’ve been doing that a lot lately. The matt_mcl post is mine, not my roommate’s. I’m the Harry Potter geek in this household.

My guesses: (Are we going to have a betting pool when the release date approaches?)

Charms = O

Transfiguration = E

Herbology = E

Defence Against the Dark Arts = O

Potions = E

Care of Magical Creatures = E

Divination = P

Astronomy = A (Just 'cos I think they’ll give all the kids a few extra points to compensate for a disruptive testing environment.)

History of Magic = T (Because I shall be very disappointed if the grade of Troll does not exist.)

Okay…I had to look up the grades because I wasn’t sure I remembered what all the letters stood for. So on the off chance that anyone is as dumb as me…

O = Outstanding
E = Exceeds Expectations
A = Acceptable
P = Poor
D = Dreadful
T = Troll (if it’s a real score. Hermione had never heard of this grade, so who knows…)

Of course if we only had L = Lametable we could rearrange and have: TADPOLE


Which raises the issue, how will the performance of students reflect on the performance of their teachers? If Snape consistently tries to fail Harry in Potions, but Harry gets a Pass or above in the O.W.L., what will that say about Snape’s performance as an instructor?

For that matter, even though Umbridge essentially taught nothing during DatDA, Harry (and probably most of Dumbledore’s Army) will get high marks on their O.W.L.s. Will this make Umbridge look like a decent teacher? It probably means nothing in Umbridge’s case, since she is gone from the picture, but it may reflect badly on Snape and his habits of bullying and favoritism.

An unrelated hijack - I listened to Order of the Phoenix on tape recently. Umbridge does not say what the centaurs did to her. But it occurred to me thatshe is acting as if she were raped. She won’t talk about it, and seems emotionally devastated. Am I completely off base here? Or it is possible?

I can’t imagine Harry not playing Quidditch. Although perhaps he will be forced to in order to free up his time to study for his N.E.W.T.s. An interesting thought.

But I wondered if Harry would wind up a professional Quidditch player, probably as a cover for being a secret Auror on Dumbledore’s behalf. Then he would retire from professional Quidditch and become the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.

Thanks for the links.


Possible, I suppose. :eek: I’ve never felt sorry for Umbridge before.
Personally, I’d rather believe they just terrorized her by tossing her around like a large beach ball. She hates and fears all semi-humans, just being carried off by the herd would have been pretty horrible. Even Hagrid seems to respect-bordering-on-fear what’s in the forbidden forest. Being helpless/humiliated in front of people you fear might produce a similar reaction.

I don’t know - after the centaurs take Umbridge away, they become angry at Harry and Hermione:

Besides that it just doesn’t seem like the centaurs’ style in any case, I just can’t imagine they planned to do something like that to children (or foals, as they call them).

But then, they may have been planning something else, and changed their minds when Harry and Hermione got away. :eek: