The Most And Least Smartest States: Find Out Where You Fall

Massachusetts and Connecticut ranked as the smartest states, whereas West Virginia and Mississippi were found to best the least intelligent states.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

smartest states united states flag

Competition between states isn’t really news. Everyone wants to claim their home as superior…for something anyway. But thanks to a recent study, we now know which are the smartest states, and the results may surprise you.

After the class of 2022 threw their caps in the air, Penn Stakes hit the books. They wanted to assess the intelligence level throughout the country. So, “To determine America’s smartest states, we created an index that considered six key factors, with each factor weighted according to its importance and influence.”

Those factors included the percentage of residents holding an advanced degree (weighted the highest). Then, with the next highest weight came the average IQ scores and percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree. And bringing up the rear were average ACT and SAT scores and the percentage of residents with a high school diploma.

“Finally, we combined the weighted scores of each factor for each state to provide a final index score out of 100. The higher the score, the smarter the state.” But enough with the methodology. Time for the news you were waiting for…what are the smartest states in the US?

Massachusetts won the crown for the overall highest index score. They came in at 93.9. Connecticut (73.9), Maryland (72.82), Virginia (72.55), and  Vermont (72.19) rounded out the top 5 smartest states. 

But the home of Harvard and the Boston Tea Party didn’t stop there. The state also took the top spot for average ACT score (27.6) and the number of people with an advanced degree (20.3%). Additionally, Massachusetts residents have the second-highest average IQ nationally (103.1). 

Connecticut held onto its number 2 spot for average ACT score (27.02) and percentage of people with an advanced degree (19.08%). Unfortunately, it fell out of the top 5 for the average IQ and SAT scores. And despite coming in number 3 and 4 overall, neither Maryland nor Virginia cracked the top 5 in any individual category.

Vermont placed 4th in the nation for average IQ score at 102.2. Other states that made the top 5 for average IQ include New Hampshire (103.2), Minnesota (102.9), and Wyoming (101.7). Unfortunately, not everyone could make the ranks of the smartest states.

The Penn Stakes study also showed which states brought up the rear. “Well, ranking bottom with an overall index score of just 12.63, West Virginia claims the unwanted crown as America’s most unintelligent state. This is contributed by the region having among the lowest average IQs (97.2) and lowest rate of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree (87.14%).”

And the bad news continued to plague the south. Mississippi only fared slightly better than West Virginia. It has an overall index score of 13.28, thanks to the third-lowest IQ and low percentage of any degree. 

Louisiana eeked out a little higher, with an overall index score of 15.20, despite having the second lowest average IQ in the nation. “Rounding out the bottom five, we have Arkansas (19.07) and Nevada (19.97), both of which rank among the worst states for average IQ.” And, although New Mexico has the lowest average IQ in the US (95), it did manage to stay out of the bottom 5.