# Can house points be awarded in awkward numbers?

Multiple times in Harry Potter, we see house points being awarded in multiples of 5, but when playing the games, I've come across some odd numbering for house points. (394, etc.)

Can house points be awarded in non-multiples of 5?

• Snape takes of a single point every time Harry failed to answer a question the first potions class.
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 15:42
• pottermore.com/features/…
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 15:44
• @ibid: I hope you don't mind, but I've added the link you included to my answer (with credit to you, obviously). I think it improved my answer a bit, but in my opinion isn't enough to stand on its own.
– Jeff
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 17:08
• The relevant trope is TVTROPES WARNING tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PinballScoring Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:40

For most students, points were given or taken one at a time.

It is only in unusual cases where more than a single point was awarded (or taken). We don't see this much, though, because the books only feature unusual situations.

If you consider the first book, where the Trio is in their first year and Hogwarts is at its most 'normal', you tend to see points given in very small increments (especially compared to later books). The only exception is the end of term feast, where Dumbledore skews everything wildly by giving out 170 points at once to four people.

Given that those 170 points were enough to completely change the scores and take a very low score into the winning position, we can assume that the typical change in points across a typical day or week must be very low.

In general, I'd be willing to bet that most houses have a net change of only a few points per day (up or down).

If you are interested in the spread of points given in the books (which does really show just how skewed a view we get) you can check out this page on Pottermore, as shared by ibid in the comments above.

• I always just assumed the later books had greater numbers due to inflation.
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 16:26
• @ibid: Well yeah, I mean you can't give Harry the same number of points for hitting Voldemort with an expelliarmus as you did for him shaking Quirrel's hand, now can you?
– Jeff
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 17:07
• @Skooba - In the first book, as other comments have said, Snape was deducting single points for flaws. Also in that book, Hermione performs exceedingly well in Charms (gets her Levitation Charm right on the first attempt) and gets a single point. She also gets one point in Transfiguration. Single-point awards seem to be the most common. I challenge you to show otherwise.
– Jeff
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:32
• Of people being show to gain or lose points -- Angelina Johnson, 1 interaction, -5 points; Dean Thomas, 1 interaction, +10 points; Ernie Macmillian, 1 interaction, - 5 points; Fawcett, 1 interaction, - 10 points; Parvati Patil, 1 interaction, +5 points; Seamus Finnigam, 1 interaction, +5 points; Stebbins, 1 interaction, - 10 points. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:37
• from all the books, assigners being McGonagall, Lupin, Malfoy, Snape, Lupin, Lupin, Snape, respectively. There really are not that many instances of points being awarded to those outside the Trio. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:41

A single point was taken twice (in the same class) from Harry by Professor Snape in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Snape says:

And a point will be taken from Gryffindor House for your cheek, Potter.

Later in the class, he says this line:

You—Potter—why didn't you tell him not to add the quills? Thought he'd make you look good if he got it wrong, did you? That's another point you've lost for Gryffindor.

Thus, it seems likely that it was not unusual for points to be given or recieved in 1-point increments or decrements.

• Points being deducted in 1-point increments doesn't preclude the OP's theory of greater numbers being rounded to five.
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:32
• 1 is 5to the power of 0... Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 14:46
• @MarkGardner: Hah, I did think of that, but I figured 1 isn't a multiple of 5 in the way the OP was thinking Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 14:56

Pottermore has a semi-detailed analysis of the house points awarded and deducted through out the whole series.

In Philosopher's Stone it says that the total number of points deducted was 187.

This would mean that at some point at least 2 points were added or 3 points were deducted in some fashion to deviate from 5-point system. Granted this could be as individual points (i.e. +/- 1) or as some random number (i.e. +17 or -23).

• The Harry Potter books have an even more detailed analysis, which show that it was Snape deducting two points, one at a time. (As others have already pointed out.)
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:24
• @ibid meh, I tend to find the book are unreliable source especially that "Sorcer's Stone".... :P Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:27
• But this is really the problem that I have with wiki answers. A secondary source should really only be used to supplement an answer, or when a primary source is unavailable. Also that infographic was already linked to twice on this page.
– ibid
Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:34
• again, meh. There is nothing against having a competing answer, and a link in the comment and a use of the the link in an answer, but not actually using to substantiate the answer seems weak. Outside of that, votes can decide how useful this answer is. Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 19:46

The answer is simple. Here's something Dumbledore says at the end of book 1:

"Now, as I understand it, the house cup here needs awarding, and the points stand thus: In fourth place, Gryffindor, with three hundred and twelve points; in third, Hufflepuff, with three hundred and fifty-two; Ravenclaw has four hundred and twenty-six and Slytherin, four hundred and seventy- two."

There's no possible way for that to happen only from multiples of 5. Therefore, it must be that points are added in "awkward numbers."

• Nah, it's just Rowling Maths.
– ibid
Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:32
• "There's no possible way for that to happen only from multiples of 5." Sure there is. The gem counting mechanism in the hourglasses is faulty, and often lets the wrong number of gems through. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 15:39
• @b_jonas Is the mechanism faulty? Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 16:20
• It's possible for that to happen even if adding is only done in multiples of five, by subtracting using "awkward numbers".
– Alex
Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 21:50