We know that he was very talented but he was also hardworking since even Dumbledore mentioned him being one of the best students in Hogwarts history. This would basically mean that he got the best grades in at least 10 O.W.L.'s (if not all of them) while being prefect and Head Boy. He also explored dark magic at the time and by the end of his schooling he knew almost all areas of magic to the same point as professionals did. How could he manage all that? Did he spend most of his time in the library or what?

  • 2
    I am not sure how this is supposed to be answered, as I don't recall any of the books telling us. Your best bet would be a quote from JKR. Dec 27, 2018 at 12:17
  • I might have missed something from the books or movies but all in all estimates would do. Dec 27, 2018 at 12:18
  • 2
    I'm guessing the answer is "lots"
    – Valorum
    Dec 27, 2018 at 12:21
  • 3
    @JamesDouglas Random guesses would be voted down, true, but there's nothing wrong with estimates based on evidence.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 27, 2018 at 15:09
  • 5
    Maybe he just schemed with his friends, missed the Hogwarts Express half the time, and was competent at Quidditch? That seems to work for some people... Dec 27, 2018 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


Most likely, Tom had studied a lot.

It’s very likely Tom studied a lot while he was at Hogwarts. He was described as being thirsty for knowledge, which implies that not only was he naturally talented, he also worked at gaining more knowledge.

“As an unusually talented and very good-looking orphan, he naturally drew attention and sympathy from the staff almost from the moment of his arrival. He seemed polite, quiet and thirsty for knowledge. Nearly all were most favourably impressed by him.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)

He had gotten top grades in every examination he’d taken, which is further evidence that he was a dedicated student.

“He reached the seventh year of his schooling with, as you might have expected, top grades in every examination he had taken. All around him, his classmates were deciding which jobs they were to pursue once they had left Hogwarts. Nearly everybody expected spectacular things from Tom Riddle, prefect, Head Boy, winner of the Special Award for Services to the School.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

Tom also said he was trusted because he was a model student.

“It was my word against Hagrid’s, Harry. Well, you can imagine how it looked to old Armando Dippet. On the one hand, Tom Riddle, poor but brilliant, parentless but so brave, school Prefect, model student; on the other hand, big, blundering Hagrid, in trouble every other week, trying to raise werewolf cubs under his bed, sneaking off to the Forbidden Forest to wrestle trolls.”
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 17 (The Heir of Slytherin)

From what we know of Tom’s achievements, and how his teachers and peers perceived him, he almost certainly studied heavily.

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    Note that, if a naturally talented wizard, Tom might not have needed to study hard to get good grades, but that would simply allow him to study beyond the curriculum (for instances, horcruxes).
    – RDFozz
    Dec 27, 2018 at 18:58
  • @RDFozz True - that’s why it’s only one point of my answer and I open it with him seeming thirsty for knowledge. That he was known to seek out knowledge implies he studied as well as was naturally talented.
    – Obsidia
    Dec 27, 2018 at 19:05

I believe that examples from real life can shed some light on this.

As you will certainly remember from school, there are a few children who struggle to learn even the basics of whatever is being taught to them, and a few students who very quickly master everything the teachers have prepared for them (when I was in school the latter group were called "brains"), with the vast majority of students falling somewhere between these two extremes. Some students in the latter group grasp things so quickly that they hardly need to study at all.

In the books, Dumbledore clearly states—in Chamber of Secrets and Half-blood Prince—that Tom Riddle was at the top end of the scale during his Hogwarts years. Remember also that he had been making use of his magical abilities, without any schooling, prior to his attendance; the practice seems to have done him well.

Aside from what we might call native ability, there is the desire to learn. A lot of children in real-life schools regard their time there as something to be endured, and the knowledge taught there as a bunch of junk with no practical value. (Insert your favorite meme about not using algebra today, here.) Once the tests are passed, these students appear to evict the unwanted knowledge from their heads. But there are a handful of kids who take a genuine interest in the topic (yes, even with the stuff the rest of us find boring) and approach the topic with the intent to thoroughly understand it.

I myself taught computer literacy at the local high school, and there was a marked disparity of ability and interest in learning among my own students. Some students, working at their very best, took three days to complete an assignment that other students could knock off in half a class period. Some students paid attention and did the work assigned to them, while others behaved more like apes than humans.

In the case of Hogwarts, we can see that Ron is an example of someone for whom schooling is a form of mild torment, whereas Riddle and Hermione clearly showed up with the intention to learn; in Sorcerer's Stone we learn that Hermione has already read every word of her school books before she first set foot on the Hogwarts Express, and in Half-blood Prince we are told that Riddle was sorted into Slytherin the moment the Sorting Hat touched his head.

And as any adult will tell you, there can be a lot of overlap between the bright students and the ambitious ones, and the result is a model student. They have talent, so everything comes easier, and they have ambition, so they put more effort into it.

It doesn't take a canon source to see how Riddle was pushing the known bounds of magic even during his time at school. If he learned everything in half the time it took other students to learn—a completely realistic assumption—he had plenty of time for other things.

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    I know you're trying to keep the writing in this answer interesting, but could you possibly rephrase the "10% apes" bit? You probably didn't mean it racially, but its vague enough that some folks are likely to take it that way (and worse, do so happily as part of their worldview).
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 27, 2018 at 22:08
  • calling students apes doesn't seem nice to me. please consider editing Dec 28, 2018 at 6:08
  • You're right, in the case of the particular students I am talking about, calling them apes is not at all nice to apes.
    – EvilSnack
    Dec 28, 2018 at 16:29
  • BTW, the students I refer to as "apes" were all white kids.
    – EvilSnack
    Dec 28, 2018 at 16:43
  • @EvilSnack - That puts my mind at ease as to you. Still, it ought to be clearer without having to read the comments. Also, in technical point of fact, human beings are apes, so that bit bothers me from a technical point of view as well. Its clearly meant to be insulting, but really unless you are somehow teaching Cetaceans, 100% of your students are apes.
    – T.E.D.
    Jan 2, 2019 at 19:31

Riddle described the way he was seen as "poor, but brilliant, parent-less, but so brave, a school prefect, a model student."

Harry Potter wikia, Tom Riddle, Hogwarts years (1938-1945)

This shows us that he did well enough to become a Prefect;

"When I first met young Mr Riddle, he was a quiet albeit brilliant boy, committed to becoming a first rate wizard. Not unlike others I've known. Not unlike yourself. If the monster existed it was buried deep within."
—Horace Slughorn regarding his first experiences with Tom Riddle

This shows us he was absolutely committed to doing well.

  • Firstly, they primary source would be better than a secondary one i.e. get the book quote. Secondly, can you use quote markdown for quotes? i.e. > at the beginning of the paragraph. Thirdly, when quoting a link it is best to describe in your own words how it answers the question rather than relying 100% on the link. Lastly, I'm not too sure how this actually answers the question of how much he studied.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Dec 27, 2018 at 12:29
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    Ron did well enough to become a Prefect, so it's not necessarily an indicator of academic excellence. Dec 27, 2018 at 13:04
  • @AnthonyGrist Oh right, I forgot that... Dec 28, 2018 at 9:09

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