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"What you must remember, is that these examinations may influence your futures for many years to come! If you have not already given serious thought to your careers, now is the time to do so. And in the meantime, I'm afraid, we shall be working harder than ever to ensure that you all do yourselves justice!"
— Professor Flitwick on the importance of O.W.L. exams[src]

The Ordinary Wizarding Level (often abbreviated O.W.L.) was a series of subject-specific standardised tests taken during Hogwarts students' fifth year to determine if they had mastered magic to the standard level that any competent wizard should have been able to achieve. These exams were administered by the Wizarding Examinations Authority and had been around since at least the late 1800s.[2]

Each subject had its own O.W.L. exam. The score achieved by a student on a particular O.W.L. determined whether or not that student would be allowed to continue studying in the more advanced classes of that subject in their sixth and seventh years. If students did not score high enough on a subject's O.W.L., then they would not be allowed to take that class anymore. Exam scores also determined what type of job a student could pursue once they graduated Hogwarts.[3]

As well as referring to the test that students took in their fifth year, the term "O.W.L." also referred to the type of class, i.e. the level of difficulty of the classes the student took in their first through fifth years at Hogwarts. In addition, "achieving an O.W.L." was used to refer to a class in which the student had passed their O.W.L. exam (example: Harry Potter received an O.W.L. in Transfiguration by attaining a passing grade on the O.W.L. exam for that class).[4]

Importance[]

"O.W.L.s are really important, affect the jobs you can apply for and everything."
— Ron Weasley regarding O.W.L.s' and their effect on the future[src]

Once a student passed the O.W.L.s, they would be allowed to take the more advanced classes in their sixth and seventh years. While students studied at the Ordinary Wizarding Level, they would, as the name implied, work to learn magic at the standard level that any competent wizard should have been able to master. The more advanced classes covered material beyond the ordinary Wizarding level, considered very difficult, even for students who had previously proven themselves to be prodigious in those subjects.

In their seventh year, students took the Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test, or N.E.W.T., the scores of which were what potential employers looked at when the student was looking for a career after they completed their education. Some careers required certain subjects to be taken at N.E.W.T.-level and with a passing grade, or in some cases top grades. The O.W.L. examinations basically determined what type of career options students would be able to pursue once their education had been completed.[3]

In order to be admitted into a class at N.E.W.T. level, a student first had to achieve an 'Outstanding' or 'Exceeds Expectations' at O.W.L.-level in order to prove they could cope with the upcoming course work, which would be much more advanced. Minerva McGonagall would not let Neville Longbottom into her N.E.W.T. Transfiguration class, because he did not achieve a high enough grade, which meant that Neville would have not had the skills or knowledge in that field to reasonably keep up with the significantly more challenging coursework.[5] The individual teachers would also decide what grade was required for a student to take their class at N.E.W.T. level, as Severus Snape only accepted students into his advanced potions class if they got an 'Outstanding' on the O.W.L. exam, while Horace Slughorn was perfectly willing to accept students with 'Exceeds Expectations'.

Normally, if a student was expelled from Hogwarts prior to graduation, their wand would have been broken and they would be prohibited from using magic anymore. However, successfully completing the O.W.L.s was taken a sign that the student was trustworthy enough to be a law-abiding citizen who could learn from their mistakes. Thus, any such students who were expelled would be permitted to keep their wands and continue to practise magic, though the expulsion would still be a sign of disgrace forever tainting their permanent record, as Newton Scamander underwent.[6]

Due to the serious and important nature of the tests, preparation for both O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s was very hard work. Students would generally begin preparing for their O.W.L.s in their fourth year, in order to take them at the end of their fifth.[7] The pressure was enough to make certain students (such as Hannah Abbott) have a panic attack, and it was necessary to give them a Calming Draught to lower their anxiety.[8]

Cheating[]

"Now, I must warn you that the most stringent Anti-Cheating Charms have been applied to your examination papers."
— McGonagall warning students that the exams are charmed to prevent cheating[src]

Considering what was at stake, cheating was both highly tempting for the students and highly guarded against by the professors who oversaw the exam. Anti-Cheating Spells were applied to all O.W.L. exam papers. Auto-Answer Quills, Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs, and Self-Correcting Ink were all banned from the examination hall as well.[1] Despite this, at least one student attempted to cheat every year, though none were known to have been successful since the year 1896.[9]

Coursework[]

"You cannot pass an O.W.L. without serious application, practice, and study. I see no reason why everybody in this class should not achieve an O.W.L. in Transfiguration as long as they put in the work."
— McGonagall regarding the amount of time and work that is needed to pass an O.W.L.[src]
OrdinaryWizardingLevelsHM

The intense workload that O.W.L.-level students experience

Students in fourth year received more homework then any of the years prior, in preparation for their upcoming O.W.L.s. Once a student was in their fifth year, the amount of homework being set would drastically increase. This intense work load resulted in some students panicking about the amount of homework they had to do. For example, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley spent a lunch hour in the library looking up the uses of moonstones in potion-making.[10] It also resulted in some students developing headaches due to the stress, because of the sheer quantity of work being set.[11] Harry was a frequent victim of these headaches, and the pain would stab at him sharply. Although, it was possible that Harry's headaches were the result of something else.

During a 1995 Charms lesson, students spent more than an hour reviewing Summoning Charms, which according to Professor Flitwick were bound to come up in their O.W.L. Professor Flitwick then finished the lesson by setting fifth years their largest amount of Charms homework ever.[11]

It was the same, if not worse, in Transfiguration. A Transfiguration lesson on Vanishing Spells ended with everybody, but Hermione Granger being given homework.[11] This was done to prepare students, as Vanishing Spells were some of the most difficult magic they would be tested on during their O.W.L. exams.[11] The amount of homework being set increased with every class, not just a select few. For O.W.L.-level Astronomy, students filled in blank star charts and were expected to complete long and complex essays.[12][13] Astronomy homework became so intensive that some students had to organise meetings to help each other get through it.[14] In Study of Ancient Runes, fifth years had homework that involved translating runes. The Astronomy and Ancient Runes homework coincided with the exam material for both classes.[1]

During the same point in time, some fifth year students had to write three essays, practise Vanishing Spells for McGonagall, work out a counter-charm for Flitwick, finish a bowtruckle drawing, and start a dream diary for Professor Trelawney.[11] Apparently, O.W.L.-level Divination had such an increase in coursework that homework meetings between students were common.[14] Essays were issued in both Herbology and History of Magic as well. The History of Magic essay on Giant Wars was considered long.[10] These essays most likely reflected questions that would be asked on the theory portions of the O.W.L exams. This trend in homework continued for the majority of the school year of fifth years.

Study[]

"Ginny's O.W.L.s were approaching and she was therefore forced to study for hours into the night."
— Harry Potter commenting on a typical O.W.L. study routine[src]
Trio study

The trio studying for their O.W.L. exams

Students such as Ernie Macmillan studied eight or nine hours a day in order to ensure good results. The day before exams, fifth year students in Gryffindor spent the entire day reviewing subject content that could appear in their exams. Harry Potter quizzed Hermione Granger by asking her question from the book Achievements in Charming. Hermione became so agitated that she accidentally hit Harry in the nose with the sharp corner of the book, after having snatched it back in order to check her answers.[1]

Ron Weasley spent his time reading two years' worth of Charms notes with his fingers in his ears, his lips moving soundlessly. Seamus Finnigan laid flat on his back on the floor, reciting the definition of a Substantive Charm while Dean Thomas checked it against The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5. Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown practised basic Locomotion Charms, by making their pencil-cases race each other around the edge of a table.[1]

As early as the fourth year, students were given the option of taking O.W.L. practice papers.[15] Students were also given Practise O.W.L. exam booklets to help them revise and prepare for the real thing.[16]

Achievements in Charming2

Achievements in Charming an O.WL. textbook

The evening before the exam was uncomfortable. Every fifth year was trying to do last-minute revising, but nobody seemed to be getting very far. All the fifth year boys were lying awake, but no one in the dormitory spoke. None of the fifth-years talked very much at breakfast the next day, either. Parvati was practising incantations under her breath, Hermione was rereading Achievements in Charming so fast that her eyes appeared blurred, and Neville Longbottom kept dropping his knife and fork and knocking over the marmalade.[1]

Students also studied in between exams, practising wand movements and whispering incantations under their breath. Students also went straight to their common rooms after meals and submerged themselves in revision for whatever exams they had the next day.[1] Ginny Weasley was also forced to study for hours into the night and spend much time within the Hogwarts Library.[17]

Exams[]

"I think it appropriate to remind you that next June you will be sitting a important examination, during which you will prove how much you have learned about the composition and use of magical potions. Moronic though some of this class undoubtedly are, I expect you to scrape an 'Acceptable' in your O.W.L., or suffer my... displeasure."
Professor Snape regarding the potions exam[src]
OWL exam paper

A Theory of Charms O.W.L. exam paper

Most O.W.L.s were divided into written exams and practical exams.[1] The O.W.L. was comparable to the Muggle "O level" given at the same stage of education (the "O" standing for Ordinary). In 1988, this examination was replaced by the G.C.S.E. in England and Wales and the Standard Certificate level in Scotland, though in recent years the Standard Certificate has been replaced by National 5s in Scotland, but wizards were under no obligation to change their examinations when Muggles did.

Strict measures, such as Anti-Cheating Quills and Anti-Cheating Spells, were used to prevent academic dishonesty. Among the examiners were Griselda Marchbanks and Professor Tofty. When a practical examination started, students would be called in alphabetically, by either first or last name.[1]

Schedule[]

O.W.L. exams were administered over a period of two successive weeks at the end of fifth year. Most exams were divided into two parts: students will sit the theory portion in the morning and the practical portion in the afternoon, with the exception of the Astronomy practical exam, which occurs at night.[1]

1989[]

The exact days for the O.W.L.s was unknown, but it was known that seven of the O.W.L.s were held in this order.[18]

  1. Potions
  2. Charms
  3. Transfiguration
  4. Herbology
  5. Care of Magical Creatures
  6. History of Magic
  7. Defence Against the Dark Arts

It is unknown when the Astronomy, Divination, Arithmancy, Muggle Studies and Study of Ancient Runes O.W.L.s took place.

1996[]

First week[]
Subject Time Exam info
Charms Monday
"Well, it wasn't too bad, was it?... I'm not sure I did myself justice on Cheering Charms, I just ran out of time. Did you put in the counter-charm for hiccoughs?"
— Hermione Granger regarding the written portion[src]

Written: Levitation Charm, Cheering Charm, and Counter-charm for hiccoughs.[1]

"On the whole, Harry thought it went rather well. His Levitation Charm was certainly much better than Malfoy's had been, though he wished he had not mixed up the incantations for Colour Change and Growth Charms, so that the rat he was supposed to be turning orange swelled shockingly and was the size of a badger before Harry could rectify his mistake..."
— Charms practical[src]

Practical: Take an egg cup and make it do some cartwheels, Levitation Charm, Colour Change, and Growth Charms.[1]

Transfiguration Tuesday
"He forgot the definition of a Switching Spell during his written paper next morning but thought his practical could have been a lot worse."
— Harry Potter's Transformation written exam[src]

Written: One of the questions was the definition of a Switching Spell.[1]

"At least he managed to Vanish the whole of his iguana, whereas poor Hannah Abbott lost her head completely at the next table and somehow managed to multiply her ferret into a flock of flamingos, causing the examination to be halted for ten minutes; while the birds were captured and carried out of the Hall."
— Transfiguration practical[src]

Practical: Vanishing Spell[1] (one of the most complicated spells taught at O.W.L[19])

Herbology Wednesday Written: Belladonna[20]
"They had their Herbology exam on Wednesday (other than a small bite from a Fanged Geranium, Harry felt he had done reasonably well)."
— Herbology practical[src]
Tofty invigilating the Herbology OWL HM
Practical: Fanged Geranium[1], Belladonna[20], and other plants.
Defence Against the Dark Arts Thursday
"Here, for the first time, Harry felt sure he had passed. He had no problem with any of the written questions..."
— DADA written exam[src]

Written: Question ten — name five signs that identify the werewolf.[21]

"...took particular pleasure, during the practical examination, in performing all the counter-jinxes and defensive spells right in front of Umbridge, who was watching coolly from near the doors into the Entrance Hall."
— Harry Potter's DADA practical exam[src]

Practical: Counter-jinxes, Defensive Spells, Boggart-Banishing Spell, and the Patronus Charm for bonus points.[1]

Ancient Runes Friday
"I mistranslated ehwaz... It means partnership, not defence; I mixed it up with eihwaz."
— Two translations from the Ancient Runes O.W.L.[src]

Written: Translation of runes like "ehwaz" and "eihwaz"[1]

Practical: Unknown; given the highly theoretical nature of this discipline, its exam may consist solely of a written section. Although it could be that the practical section may consist of oral and reporting parts and recognising certain Runes with the naked eye.
Second week[]
Subject Time Exam info
Potions Monday
"Sure enough, he found the written paper difficult, though he thought he might have got full marks on the question about Polyjuice Potion; he could describe its effects accurately, having taken it illegally in his second year."
— Harry Potter's Potions written exam[src]

Written: Contains a question about Polyjuice Potion (it is noted that the written exam is quite difficult)[1]

"The afternoon practical was not as dreadful as he had expected it to be. With Snape absent from the proceedings, he found that he was much more relaxed than he usually was while making potions. Neville, who was sitting very near Harry, also looked happier than Harry had ever seen him during a Potions class."
— Potions practical[src]

Practical: The making of certain potions, although few details are known.[1]

Care of Magical Creatures Tuesday Written: Unknown
"The practical examination took place in the afternoon on the lawn on the edge of the Forbidden Forest... "
— 1996 practical exam[src]

Practical: Identify a Knarl hidden among a dozen hedgehogs; Demonstrate correct handling of a Bowtruckle; Feed and clean out a Fire crab without sustaining serious burns; Choose from a wide selection of food the diet they would give a sick Unicorn.[1]

Astronomy Wednesday
"The Astronomy theory paper on Wednesday morning went well enough."
— Harry Potter's written Astronomy exam[src]

Written: Identify all of Jupiter's moons (among other questions, presumably).[1]

Books chapterart ootp 31
Practical: Look at the telescope and fill in the blank star‐chart with the precise positions of the stars and planets they were observing.[1]
Divination Wednesday Written: Unknown; possibly contains questions of describing various methods of divination, mind and concentration techniques and practical theory; it is presumably generally easier than the practical part of the exam.
"He might as well have tried to see moving pictures on the desktop as in the stubbornly blank crystal ball; he lost his head completely during tea-leaf reading, saying it looked to him as though Professor Marchbanks would shortly be meeting a round, dark, soggy stranger, and rounded off the whole fiasco by mixing up the life and head lines on her palm and informing her that she ought to have died the previous Tuesday."
— Harry Potter's Divination practical[src]

Practical: Crystal ball reading, tea-leaf reading, palm-reading.[1]

Arithmancy Wednesday Written: Unknown
Practical: Unknown; given the highly theoretical nature of this discipline, its exam may consist solely of a written section. Although it could be that the practical section may consist of application methods and calculations of several magical forces and devices including numbers and numerology.
History of Magic Thursday
"He was finding it very difficult to remember names and kept confusing dates. He simply skipped question four... thinking that he would go back to it if he had time at the end. He had a stab at question five... but had a nagging suspicion that he had missed several important points; he had a feeling vampires had come into the story somewhere."
— Harry Potter's History of Magic exam[src]

Written: Wand legislation; Goblin riots of the eighteenth century; Statute of Secrecy breach; Formation of the International Confederation of Wizards and explain why the Warlocks of Liechtenstein refused to join.[1]

Unknown[]
  • Muggle Studies – It was not specified when this exam was taken, or what components it included.

O.W.L. scores[]

If a student failed an O.W.L. and still wished to retake it, they were presumably held back in that class. Professor Severus Snape remarked in 1996 that Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle needed to pass their Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.s, and that he gave them detention for this.[22]

Passing grades[]

Fail grades[]

O.W.L.s achieved[]

Subject Recipients Notes
Study of Ancient Runes Hermione Granger,[4] Bill Weasley, Percy Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior (most likely),[24] Bathsheda Babbling[25]
Arithmancy Hermione Granger,[4] Bill Weasley, Percy Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Septima Vector[26]
Astronomy Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley,[4] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior (most likely),[24] Aurora Sinistra Harry and Ron's O.W.L.s may or may not have allowed them to continue to N.E.W.T.-level, though it is unknown as neither of them chose to apply for the subject in either case.[4]
Care of Magical Creatures Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley,[5] Charlie Weasley, Angelina Johnson,[1] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Silvanus Kettleburn, Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank, Jacob's sibling (possibly), Luna Lovegood (possibly), Jae Kim[27]

It was never mentioned that Charlie earned a pass, but it seems likely since he worked directly with magical creatures.

It is unknown whether Luna Lovegood achieved an O.W.L. in this subject, but seeing as she became a professional Magizoologist in her adult life, it was very likely.
It was also very possible that Luna's husband Rolf Scamander achieved an O.W.L. in this subject as well, considering he was also a Magizoologist.
Charms

Seamus Finnigan,[28] Hermione Granger,[4] Neville Longbottom,[5] Harry Potter,[4] Dean Thomas,[28] Ron Weasley, Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Alicia Spinnet,[29] Lee Jordan,[citation needed] Cedric Diggory,[30] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Filius Flitwick, Nymphadora Tonks, Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Isobel Ross,[31] Jacob's sibling (possibly), Ben Copper (possibly), Talbott Winger, Luna Lovegood (possibly), Jae Kim[27]

Augusta Longbottom failed her Charms O.W.L.[5]
Isobel Ross, the mother of Minerva McGonagall, most likely achieved an O.W.L. in this subject, as she excelled in Charms and graduated top of her class in the subject.[31]
It is one of the subjects in which students are required to pass an O.W.L. with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror.[3]
It's possible that Ben Copper gained an O.W.L. with an Outstanding in this subject, because charms normally reserved in the subject was merged into Charms class, and he was well-versed in Charms and Martial magic. It was his best subject.
Defence Against the Dark Arts Lavender Brown,[32] Seamus Finnigan,[5][32] Hermione Granger,[4] Neville Longbottom, Ernie Macmillan, Draco Malfoy, Parvati Patil,[5] Harry Potter,[4] Dean Thomas,[5] Ron Weasley,[4] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Fred Weasley, George Weasley,[33] Lee Jordan,[34] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Quirinus Quirrell, Remus Lupin, Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Pansy Parkinson, Jacob's sibling (possibly), Talbott Winger, Ben Copper (possibly), Luna Lovegood (possibly), Jae Kim[27] Most of these were members of Dumbledore's Army, which contributed to their high scores.[5]
This was the only course Harry Potter received an 'Outstanding' in and Hermione Granger did not.[4]
It was possible that Lyall Lupin achieved a O.W.L. in this subject, as he was world-renowned authority on Non-Human Spirituous Apparitions.[35]
It was one of the subjects in which students were required to pass an O.W.L. with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror.[3]
It was possible that Ben Copper gained a O.W.L. in this subject, because charms normally reserved in the subject was merged into Charms class, and he is well-versed in Charms and Martial magic.
Divination Parvati Patil,[5] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley, Sybill Trelawney Lavender Brown may also have achieved an O.W.L. in this subject, given that she and Parvati are usually mentioned as being the most enthusiastic, interested and diligent in this class.
Harry Potter failed this exam, given that it was his worst subject. Ron Weasley also failed this exam.[4]
Herbology Hannah Abbott,[36] Hermione Granger,[4] Neville Longbottom,[5] Harry Potter, Ron Weasley,[4] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Fred Weasley, George Weasley,[10] Bartemius Crouch Junior (possibly),[24] Pomona Sprout, Herbert Beery, Jacob's sibling (possibly), Talbott Winger, Nymphadora Tonks, Jae Kim[27] Neville Longbottom achieved an 'Outstanding' O.W.L.;[5] Herbology was noted to be his best subject,[33][5] and he later worked as a Professor of the subject himself.[37]
It is one of the subjects in which students are required to pass an O.W.L. with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror.[3]
History of Magic Hermione Granger,[4] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior (possibly),[24] Cuthbert Binns, Jacob's sibling (possibly), Talbott Winger, Rowan Khanna (possibly), Nymphadora Tonks, Ismelda Murk (possibly), Jae Kim[27] As this was known to be an extremely boring subject, given Professor Binns' droning lecture style, most students found it impossible to pay any attention in this class, and thus almost impossible to get a good O.W.L. score in.[10]
It was one of the subjects which Talbott Winger was required to pass with O.W.L. an with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror, oddly enough.
It was likely that Rowan Khanna and Ismelda Murk gained top marks in their O.W.L.s in this subject, as it was their best subject.
Harry Potter received a 'Dreadful' on this O.W.L.,[4] as he passed out halfway through the exam.[1]
Muggle Studies Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley, Arthur Weasley (possibly), Quirinus Quirrell, Charity Burbage, Bartemius Crouch Junior (most likely) Although it was unknown if Arthur Weasley gained any qualifications in this subject, it is likely due to his fascination of Muggles and his work in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office.
This was a class that Hermione Granger wanted to study due to her Muggle status, but was dropped due to conflicting schedules.[38]
Potions Terry Boot, Michael Corner,[5] Hermione Granger,[4] Ernie Macmillan, Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott,[5] Harry Potter, Ron Weasley,[4] Blaise Zabini,[5] Pansy Parkinson,[39] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Severus Snape, Horace Slughorn, Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Nymphadora Tonks, Padma Patil,[39] Jacob's sibling (possibly), Penny Haywood (possibly), Talbott Winger, Merula Snyde (possibly), Jae Kim[27]

Professor Snape's favouritism of Slytherin students may have been part of the reason Slytherin students tended to do well in this subject.

This was said to be a rather difficult subject to achieve an high O.W.L. score in. Only twelve students were able to make it to N.E.W.T.-level in 1996; four Ravenclaws, four Slytherins, three Gryffindors, and one Hufflepuff.[5]
It was one of the subjects in which students are required to pass an O.W.L. with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror.[3]
Lily Evans most likely achieved an high O.W.L. score in this subject, given that she had an instinctual understanding of potion-making (according to Horace Slughorn.[5]
Transfiguration Lavender Brown,[22] Seamus Finnigan,[40] Hermione Granger,[4] Neville Longbottom,[5] Parvati Patil,[22] Harry Potter,[4] Dean Thomas, Ron Weasley,[4] Draco Malfoy,[41] Katie Bell,[42] Cedric Diggory,[30] Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley,[23] Bartemius Crouch Junior,[24] Albus Dumbledore,[1] Minerva McGonagall, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Alastor Moody, Jacob's sibling (possibly), Talbott Winger, Jae Kim[27]

Neville's 'Acceptable' O.W.L. did not qualify him for the N.E.W.T.-level.[5]

It is likely that the Marauders progressed to N.E.W.T.-level in this subject considering; Sirius Black and Remus Lupin were able to perform Untransfiguration on Peter Pettigrew, James Potter's wand was excellent for Transfiguration, and Pettigrew was able to perform conjuration, which is taught at N.E.W.T.-level.
It is one of the subjects in which Talbott Winger was required to pass an O.W.L. with a grade of E or O in order to have prospects of becoming an Auror.[3]
It is possible that Augusta Longbottom received a high O.W.L. score in this subject, considering that she wanted her grandson Neville to take it at N.E.W.T.-level.[5]

Behind the scenes[]

  • O.W.L.s are comparable to the formerly used Ordinary Levels (known as "O-Levels") that these exams appear to be named after, being taken around the same age and studied for two years before examination.
  • In the film adaptations, "O.W.L" is pronounced as an acronym, but in the UK audiobooks every letter is enunciated individually, presumably to avoid ambiguity.
  • In their Charms exam, students are called in order by last name, alphabetically. However, Harry Potter and Hannah Abbott are called at the same time for their Transfiguration exam, which may mean Transfiguration O.W.Ls are called in order of first name.
  • The only known characters to receive all twelve O.W.L.s are Percy Weasley, Bill Weasley, and Bartemius Crouch Junior. However, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it is revealed that attempting this would cause a timetable clash during that year; Minerva McGonagall had to write several letters to the Ministry in order to obtain a Time-Turner for Hermione Granger so that she would be able to attend all her classes when she attempted to take all twelve subjects in her third year (although she ultimately dropped two when she was not able to cope with so many subjects). It is unclear how Percy, Bill, and Crouch Jnr were able to make a similar accomplishment as Hermione's was the only Time-Turner to ever enter Hogwarts according to J.K. Rowling.[43] It should be noted that Crouch Jnr obtaining twelve O.W.L.s was mentioned by Bartemius Crouch Senior during a bout of insane rambling due to the damage to his mind from fighting the Imperius Curse and could have been a delusional mistake on his part. On the other hand, all three had parents connected in some way with the Ministry, so this is fairly plausible.
  • Harry Potter and his year all begin studying for their O.W.L.S as early as the beginning of fourth year. It is unknown whether this is the case with other years at Hogwarts or if it was a precaution so students didn't forget their work whilst the Triwizard Tournament was being held.
  • In early editions of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Hermione Granger is said to receive eleven O.W.L.s, scoring ten O's and one E. However, after the events of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione shrunk her class load from twelve subjects to ten, dropping both Divination and Muggle Studies. This was corrected in the Scholastic edition, where Ron instead states the she received nine O's and one E, giving her a total of ten O.W.L.s.
  • It is interesting to note that the passing grades of O.W.L. exams are vowels (A, E, and O), while the failing grades are consonants (P, D, and T).
  • In the film version of Half-Blood Prince, many more students are seen studying N.E.W.T. level Potions. Interestingly, both Romilda Vane and Katie Bell are seen in this class, despite the fact that Romilda is a fourth year and Katie is a seventh year.
  • In Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, players can guide Jacob's sibling to gain at least an A in 7 subjects:

See also[]

Appearances[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)
  2. HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX - 2nd Draft
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 29 (Careers Advice)
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 5 (An Excess of Phlegm)
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 9 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  6. "EXCLUSIVE: J.K. Rowling tells SnitchSeeker about Newt's expulsion from Hogwarts, more"
  7. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 15 (Beauxbatons and Durmstrang)
  8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  9. HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX - 2nd Draft
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 12 (Professor Umbridge)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)
  12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 26 (Seen and Unforeseen)
  13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)
  14. 14.0 14.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
  15. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 20 (The First Task)
  16. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 25 (The Seer Overheard)
  18. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, "Ordinary Wizarding Levels" Achievement
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 13 (Detention with Dolores)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 5, "Ordinary Wizarding Levels" Achievement - Part 1, Side Quest "Take the O.W.L.s!"
  21. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 15 (The Unbreakable Vow)
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 23.7 23.8 23.9 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 4 (At Flourish and Blotts) - It is said that both Percy and Bill Weasley earned twelve O.W.L.s each, meaning they must have gained an O.W.L. in every possible subject on offer at Hogwarts.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 24.6 24.7 24.8 24.9 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 28 (The Madness of Mr Crouch) - Barty Crouch Senior remarks that his son (Barty Crouch Junior) had "recently gained twelve O.W.L.s, most satisfactory, yes, thank you, yes, very proud indeed" in a state of delirium, which is therefore possibly a truthful statement, but his mental instability renders the statement not entirely verifiable.
  25. J. K. Rowling's official site - As Babbling was the professor of Ancient Runes at Hogwarts.
  26. J. K. Rowling's official site - As Vector was the professor of Arithmancy at Hogwarts.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (see this image)
  28. 28.0 28.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  29. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 15 (The Hogwarts High Inquisitor)
  30. 30.0 30.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 20 (The First Task)
  31. 31.0 31.1 Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Professor McGonagall" at Wizarding World
  32. 32.0 32.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 21 (The Unknowable Room)
  33. 33.0 33.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 14 (The Unforgivable Curses)
  34. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 30 (Grawp)
  35. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Remus Lupin" at Wizarding World
  36. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 11 (Hermione's Helping Hand)
  37. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Epilogue (Nineteen Years Later)
  38. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 22 (Owl Post Again)
  39. 39.0 39.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) - Chapter 8 (The Half-Blood Prince)
  40. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 14 (Felix Felicis)
  41. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 12 (Silver and Opals)
  42. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 24 (Sectumsempra)
  43. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Time-Turner" at Wizarding World
Hogwarts subjects
Core classes Astronomy · Charms · Defence Against the Dark Arts · Herbology · History of Magic · Potions · Transfiguration
Hogwartscrest
Elective classes Alchemy · Arithmancy · Care of Magical Creatures · Divination · Muggle Studies · Study of Ancient Runes
Extracurricular classes Apparition · Advanced Arithmancy Studies · Ancient Studies · Art · Flying · Ghoul Studies · Magical Theory · Muggle Art · Muggle Music · Music · Xylomancy · Field Studies
Former classes Beasts · Dark Arts
Examinations
First year exams · Second year exams · Third year exams · Fourth year exams ·
Ordinary Wizarding Level · Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Test
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