Exams at Hogwarts
Students at Hogwarts all have end of year exams, regardless of their age. The
equivalent of GCSEs and A-Levels at Hogwarts, however, come in the form of OWLs
(Ordinary Wizarding Levels) and NEWTs (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests) respectively.
OWLs are sat at the end of the fifth year of study at Hogwarts. There are twelve
different subjects which can be taken, with students typically studying 9 to
OWL level. There is no compulsory upper limit, however, and students can take
as many subjects as they wish and as time will allow. Hermione attempted to
take a number of extra subjects during her third year (although she later dropped
out of Divination). Both Bill and Percy Weasley managed the remarkable feat
of passing all 12 OWLs. Some subjects have both a practical and written examination,
whereas others only require a written paper. Subjects which can be taken at
OWL level are:
Ancient Runes – The OWL
exam requires the student to write an interpretation of something written in
ancient runes into English.
Arithmancy – Not much is
known about the OWL for this subject. We can only presume that there is a written
exam for it which involves some sort of mathematical content.
Astronomy – Harry and Ron
sat this OWL exam, which includes both written and practical sections. The written
part of the exam uses the recall of knowledge on facts such as the configuration
of Jupiter’s moons, and presumably other astronomical phenomena. The practical
part of the exam involves the students observing the night sky (from the Astronomy
Tower) and demonstrating their knowledge of visible constellations.
Care of Magical Creatures –
OWL involves written explanations of such things as how to care for a blast-ended
skrewt. The practical exam, in Harry’s experience, asked students to correctly
identify a Knarl amongst hedgehogs, demonstrate the correct handling of a Bowtruckle,
to clean out and feed a Fire Crab without sustaining significant burns and finally
to choose, from a selection of food, what they would feed to a unicorn.
Charms – The OWL exam incorporates
both a written and practical component. The practical part requires the student
to do thing such as taking an egg cup and making it perform cartwheels. The
written part (Theory of Charms, OOTP p625) will ask for the details of certain
spells (for example, “a) Give the incantation and b) describe the wand
movement required to make objects fly.”).
Defence Against the Dark Arts
– The practical OWL exam requires the student to do such things as perform
counter-jinxes and defence spells and, in Harry’s case, to conjure a Patronus.
The written exam requires the student to answer questions such as: "Give
five signs that identify the werewolf".
Divination – In this OWL
exam, pupils need to identify mysterious moving objects in a crystal ball, to
read tea leaves and lastly to palm read.
Herbology – The only information
we have on this OWL exam is that during Harry’s practical component, he
received a bite from a Fanged Geranium. The OOTP book makes no mention of a
History of Magic – This
consists of only a written exam, lasting two hours and asking the students interminable
questions such as: “In your opinion, did wand legislation contribute to,
or lead to better control of, goblin riots of the eighteenth century?”;
“How was the Statue of Secrecy breached in 1749 and what measures were
introduced to prevent a recurrence?”; or “Describe the circumstances
that led to the formation of the International Confederation of Wizards and
explain why the warlock of Liechtenstein refused to join.”
Muggle Studies – No information
is supplied on this OWL exam.
Potions – The written part
of this exam requires the student to do such things as describe the effects
of certain potions. The practical exam requires the student to concoct specific
Transfiguration – This
OWL requires consists of a written and a practical exam. During Harry’s
written exam he was asked for information on Switching Spells, and the practical
exam asks the students to do such things as Vanish an Iguana.
As of yet, we do not have any information on what NEWT exams require. We are
hopefully scheduled to discover this in book seven when Harry takes his NEWT
exams. We will update this article as soon as we have some knowledge of NEWTs!