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I have a memory of there being a canon statement to the effect that some point during their time at Hogwarts, Harry became a "better" wizard than Hermione. I think it was around their fourth or fifth year. Was this the case, or is my memory mistaken? It may have been due to a quote from Rowling.

This was prompted by DVK's answer to What must one do to create NEW magic? stating that Harry was "not a very gifted or particularly magically strong wizard".

  • Do they ever rank the students in terms of wizard-ness? Do you mean better student? Higher GPA student? – Gorchestopher H Jun 5 '12 at 23:29
  • I don't recall the students being directly ranked against each other except for numbers of O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s received. My memory is that it was a direct comment comparing Harry and Hermione made by someone. – dlanod Jun 5 '12 at 23:33
  • @dlanod - I'm at a loss as to remember anything resembling that remark, unless it was related to DADA. Or, possibly, Harry's cheating-based "performance" at Potions in HBP. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 5 '12 at 23:39
  • the question is, 'better at what"? Better at DADA is different from better at survival is different from 'better wizard' meaning something like 'better person'. – Megha Jan 16 '16 at 19:22
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The only times Harry is shown to be a, as you put it, "better wizard" are:

  • DADA

    • Though, as noted in my previous answer, mostly though not exclusively this is due to Harry's personality).

    • Recall that Harry's signature dueling spell is the not-exactly-advanced "Expelliarmus".

    • He also has a powerful corporeal Patronus (also, presumably, less linked to his wizarding skill and more to his "human" qualities)

  • Potions in Sixth Year (thanks to cheating off of HBP's textbook)

Harry is much better at thinking and acting under stress, but that has little to do with academic proficiency.

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    Cheating!? He wasn't cheating. – Kyralessa Jun 7 '12 at 2:00
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    @Kyralessa - he was passing off HBP's work as his own. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jun 7 '12 at 2:53
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    Nonsense. What was Potions class anyhow, but following a set of instructions out of a book? Harry just happened to follow of different set of instructions. He still had to follow the steps precisely, or he'd have gotten results no better than Neville's. It's not as if the HBP was in the room doing the work for him. – Kyralessa Jun 7 '12 at 5:20
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    Kyralessa is right. Harry just had a more advanced recipe book. – n611x007 Jun 20 '12 at 11:54
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    I think you should pull in Patronus. I know it's mentioned in the linked question/answer but it is arguably the most relevant (only?) thing left out of your answer. --- @Kyralessa As to Harry's "Cheating" in potions. If I had to guess, based on Hermione's ability to create a Polyjuice potion in her 2nd year, I'd say that she would have done better than Harry had they both been learning from the same annotated text book. --- One might argue that by the end of Deathly hallows he was indeed the better wizard. He did face down V and no longer had the protection of being a living Horcrux. – user23715 Mar 30 '15 at 19:16
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This is unlikely to be true, because as late as the beginning of their sixth year Harry explicitly stated to Slughorn that Hermione was the best in the year:

"One of my best friends is Muggle-born," said Harry, "and she's the best in our year."

This is not just Harry's assessment. When Slughorn quotes this statement in the first Potions class, Ron confirms this:

Hermione turned to Harry with a radiant expression and whispered, "Did you really tell him I'm the best in the year? Oh, Harry!"

"Well, what's so impressive about that?" whispered Ron, who for some reason looked annoyed. "You are the best in the year — I'd've told him so if he'd asked me!"

However, you might be thinking of a conversation between Hermione and Harry in Order of the Phoenix when she was trying to convince him to teach them Defense Agaainst the Dark Arts:

"Harry, you're the best in the year at Defense Against the Dark Arts," said Hermione.

"Me?" said Harry, now grinning more broadly than ever. "No I'm not, you've beaten me in every test —"

"Actually, I haven't," said Hermione coolly. "You beat me in our third year — the only year we both sat the test and had a teacher who actually knew the subject. But I'm not talking about test results, Harry. Look what you've done!"

Here Hermione expressly admits that Harry is better than her at Defense Against the Dark Arts. But this is specifically about Defense Against the Dark Arts. In fact we see their O.W.L. results at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince, and Hermione beat Harry in every other subject:

Harry James Potter has achieved:

Astronomy                                    A
Care of Magical Creatures           E
Charms                                         E
Defense Against the Dark Arts     O
Divination                                      P
Herbology                                     E
History of Magic                            D
Potions                                         E
Transfiguration                             E

"Oh, come off it," said Ron, striding over to her and whipping her results out of her hand. "Yep — nine 'Outstandings' and one 'Exceeds Expectations' at Defense Against the Dark Arts."

Additionally, you might be thinking of the fact that during their sixth year Harry appeared to be better than Hermione at Potions. However, Harry was not actually better than Hermione at Potions, even during this time. He was simply following the instructions of the Half-Blood Prince, and the prince was better than Hermione at Potions:

You don't like the Prince, Hermione," he added, pointing a sausage at her sternly, "because he's better than you at Potions —"

This is confirmed when they get to a lesson where the prince's book does not have helpful tips:

"It's a shame that the Prince won't be able to help you much with this, Harry," she said brightly as she straightened up. "You have to understand the principles involved this time. No shortcuts or cheats!"

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