It's established that the Sorting Hat and the Student communicate, and that the Sorting Hat is able to see into the mind of the user, hence why he is responsible for sorting the students into the four houses.

It's also established that Polyjuice potion only alters the the user's appearance. Its voice thoughts and desires are independent of the Potion's Target.

Now, for the sake of this question, let's assume we have a really nasty Ravenclaw that is his team's Quidditch captain. There's a new kid going into Hogwarts that is a known prodigy in flying, and thus the Ravenclaw captain would love to have him on his house so he can win the House Cup. The thing is, this student is really dumb, but very kind. Everyone assumes he's going to go into Hufflepuff (whether or not this is true isn't known obviously). The Ravenclaw's team captain decides that he wants to make sure this student (Let's call the new student Logan for the sake of reading) a sure-fire entrance on his House. So he conducts the following plan:

  • Sneaks into the boat shack
  • Lures the student away from the pack and knocks him out
  • Turns into the student using Polyjuice potion and acts like him

The sorting ceremony would begin as usual, and Logan would be summoned, and the Ravenclaw Captain would place the Hat on his head.

Would the sorting hat know that he isn't on top of Logan? (meaning that the plan would've succeeded) If so, would the hat call out the imposter or keep silent?

This question should be broke down into the following:

  1. Is the Sorting Hat Omniscient? Does he know who everyone is?
  2. Is the Sorting Hat using Legilimency to sort Houses (thus he could discover the plot)?
  3. If #2 is Yes, would a skilled Occlumens be able to fool him?
  4. Is there any known protection against Student Posers? (Barty Crouch Jr. posed as a teacher)
  5. Can the Sorting Hat be fooled?
  • Questions 1 & 2. I think the rest are all going to be opinion-based; Rowling has said on at least one occasion that the Hat has never been wrong Commented May 20, 2015 at 2:41
  • 2
    Not being wrong doesn't mean infalible. For example : The Killing curse has never not killed anyone it hit, until it happened
    – Oak
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 2:44
  • 2
    As for this particular example: trying to trick the Sorting Hat is a very scheming thing to do. How sure is this Ravenclaw that he won’t be resorted into Slytherin? And what will he do when the real Logan shows up, with no memory of the Sorting Ceremony, but who claims to have been knocked out by another student?
    – alexwlchan
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 5:52
  • 1
    @alexwlchan Neville was a complete fool and coward for most of the series, however he did prove his courage on ocasion. Would that mean he isn't a Griffindor? This student values wit and wisdom above all else, hence why he is Ravenclaw (I didn't want to propagate the Slytherin = Evil steryotipe). About Logan, it's quite easy, he can be confunded, brainwashed, or even filled up with alcohol to make him think he forgot his whole night (Yes, filling up a 10 year old with booze). The question is regarding the Sorting Hat (and the story as a context creator), rather than how would the rest enfold
    – Oak
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 12:10
  • 3
    Except a perfectly reasonable answer is "There is not enough data because x,y,z. It's confirmed that A,B,C isn't possible but due to N it's unknown if this is possible or not". It's not opinion based if you can factually answer it...even if there is not enough data for a concrete yes or no.
    – Oak
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


Longterm there are problems with the plot (see alexwlchan's comment, for one, but also see the reaction to Ron and Harry missing the Feast in Chamber of Secrets -- Captain Ravenclaw McNasty's absence will certainly be noted), but in terms of your specific question, I think the answer is "maybe".

The titular Goblet of Fire is successfully tampered with by Barty Crouch Jr., implying that other powerful magical artifacts could also be tampered with by sufficiently powerful magic users.

In the specific case of the Sorting Hat, which appears to be an emerging intellegence grown from the minds of four of the greatest mages in the history of Hogwarts, it seems improbable (though not necessarily impossible) that even a skilled occlumens would be able to trick it.

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