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What were Barack Obama's undergraduate grades at Columbia University?

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First, it should be noted that few modern presidents have released their transcripts, nor are they under any obligation to do so, since these records are protected by federal privacy laws. Not releasing them does not mean the person has something to hide. Second, many conspiracy theories have been found on the internet about Mr. Obama, but there is no proof to any of them. Regarding his college grades, there is something that we do know: his grades from Harvard Law School. It is public record, and was reported in the press of that time (1991) that he graduated in the top 10% of his class and received academic honors (magna cum laude). It should be noted though that the highest honors are summa cum laude which precedes magna cum laude and over 30% of his classmate graduated summa cum laude which makes the "top 10% of his class" statement questionable.

Harvard has since changed its requirements for these two honors. In the old system, honors were determined based on a student's General Average, a number indicating a student's overall academic performance based on a grade scale ranging from 0 to 8. Students with a General Average of 7.20 or higher were designated as summa cum laude, while a 5.8 and a 4.85 was necessary to receive magna cum laude and cum laude honors respectively. This system pretty much ensured that every individual graduated with a minimum of a cum laude.

In the new system, only the top 10 percent of students-- excluding summa cum laude recipients--can be designated as magna cum laude, and only the next 30 percent as cum laude. Under the new system Obama would not even have made the cum laude list.

It is further mistakenly assumed that the Editor of the Harvard Law review during Obama's time was chosen according to academic prowess.

Until the 1970's the editors were picked on the basis of grades, and the president of the Law Review was the student with the highest academic rank. Among these were Elliot L. Richardson, the former Attorney General, and Irwin Griswold, a dean of the Harvard Law School and Solicitor General under Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon.

That system came under attack in the 1970's and was replaced by a program in which about half the editors are chosen for their grades and the other half are chosen by fellow students after a special writing competition. The new system, disputed when it began, was meant to help insure that minority students became editors of The Law Review.

The transfer class that entered Columbia College in the fall of 1981 with Obama was one of the worst in recent memory, according to Columbia officials at the time. A Nov. 18, 1981 article in the Columbia Spectator, "Tight Housing Discourages Transfer Applications to CC," and quoting admissions officials, reported: "On paper at least, the quality of the students accepted [as transfers] has declined along with the number of applicants, the officials say. "Among accepted transfer students, the average combined math and verbal score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test is a 1,100 and their grade-point average at their former schools is about 3.0, Boatti said.

There were 67 transfer students with an average SAT score of 1,100. Guess what that equals on the SAT to IQ conversion chart? It's between 115.51 and 116.55, depending upon whether one uses an SD of 15 or 16. Now, this isn't absolute and conclusive proof that Obama's IQ is 116, as it could well be a little bit higher or a little bit lower. But not much higher, because if he scored even 100 points more on the SAT, he wouldn't have had to go to Occidental in the first place. In fact, based on his transfer class scores, it's probable that 116 is slightly overestimating Obama's IQ. This is because the range from which that average SAT score was calculated was the 67 selected from the 450 who applied. That average was also 100 SAT points lower than the average Columbia freshman score of 1200. So, one would assume that the absolute low end SAT that Columbia accepted for transfers was probably half that gap, or 1050, which equates to a 111 IQ. So, we can reasonably conclude that Obama's IQ is probably somewhere between 110 and 118.
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