Professor Trelawney’s Prediction

chapter sixteen of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The third-years take a series of finals with a whole range of results, at least for Harry; however, after his last final (Divination), Professor Trelawney goes rigid and predicts the return of Voldemort. The trio then goes down to see Hagrid, and are unable to comfort him – but do find Scabbers. Then, as they walk back to the castle, they hear Buckbeak executed.

Doing Homework, by Chantelle

Exams were nearly upon them, and instead of lazing around outside, the students were forced to remain inside the castle, trying to bully their brains into concentrating while enticing wafts of summer air drifted in through the windows.


A Weasley and his Reading, by Katie Hillman

Percy… was becoming increasingly edgy, and gave very severe punishments to anybody who disturbed the quiet of the common room in the evenings.


Hermione's Boggart, by Heather Campbell

Hermione did everything perfectly until she reached the trunk with the boggart in it. After about a minute inside it, she burst out again, screaming.


Hippogriff? by Tealin Raintree

He thought of what Ron had just said, and decided to pretend. “Er – ” said Harry, “a dark shape… um…”


The Final Exam, by deeterhi

Had he just heard Professor Trelawney make a real prediction?


about the chapter


The Wizarding World

Harry’s just starting to learn how corrupt wizarding society can be, as it’s clear Buckbeak’s death sentence is brought forth only because of the influence of a single, wealthy individual. He’s also gotten a hint from Dumbledore that relying on dementors for security may not be the wisest, or most moral, decision either. As Harry gets further and further immersed into the center of the Wizarding world’s action, this will be a lesson he continues to learn, and often the hard way.

Life at Hogwarts

Considering the amount of time spent learning magic at Hogwarts, not all that many wizards seem to be particularly adept at it. Harry’s probably an average-ish student, and he messes up some aspect of the overwhelming majority of his exams. We’ll also see adults over the years who struggle with even basic spells, and certainly with spells Hermione was performing as a first-year. Is it possible Hogwarts just isn’t all that good of a school?

The Boy Who Lived

Harry seems to spend a lot of time watching Draco Malfoy, either in classes or from across the Great Hall. And the pair of them get on each other so much, it’s not hard to imagine Malfoy doing the same to him. But while Harry seems to be reasonably well-liked and respected among the older Gryffindors (at least those we meet, like the Quidditch team), I do wonder what the older Slytherins think of Draco. Some probably have some respect for him because of his last name and all that it connotes (especially the money and influence), but surely there are some who just think he’s full of it. For that matter, I wonder what younger Slytherins think of him too… would they simply consider him a bully?

Something to Remember

Just before Harry, Ron, and Hermione head down to Hagrid’s, they listen to make sure the entrance hall is clear, and they hear “a last pair of people hurrying across the hall and a door slamming.” What door would be slamming in the entrance hall, where students normally simply take the stairs up to their common rooms after dinner? And what two people would be slamming it?

The Final Word

“I’ve met a lot of girls who say they recognize themselves in Hermione. I think it’s a very female way of coping, to try and be the best. Hermione is a character I understand really, really well. I consciously try to make it clear that underneath the aggravating surface is someone who is actually quite insecure, hence her constant struggle to be the best. I think boy readers can grudgingly see the point of Hermione. Girls tend to identify with her a lot more. It probably is a particularly female characteristic for young girls to cover up their insecurities about feeling plain, or whatever inadequacy, by trying to get the best marks. “–J.K. Rowling, September 1999

43 Responses to “Professor Trelawney’s Prediction”

  1. I disagree with the point about Hogwarts not being a good school. Harry may mess something up in a bunch of exams, but that’s akin to getting a few questiosn wrong on the final – almost no one gets straight 100s. And as for adults being inept at basic spells, it could just be they’re unskilled at certain spells – who’s to say they weren’t good at Transfiguration or Herbology or something else?

  2. You mentioned Malfoy’s position in the Slytherin House. I think he’s respected a lot more for his money and influence than you give him credit for. I mean, it is said that Slytherins like power and they don’t care that much how people get that power and influence. If Malfoy is against Harry (whom they probably see as a fool who isn’t using his popularity or fame) most of them will probably be pro-malfoy…They wouldn’t think he’s as full of it as Harry is, seeing as he’s trying to be noble etc.

  3. I think hpboy13 has a good point–none of us are perfect, even as adults. Sometimes we just overcomplicate things, forgetting that there could be a simple solution to whatever is going wrong. I expect that a lot of times (Gilderoy Lockhart excepted) just due to the pressure of the situation, witches and wizards forget the basics (sort of like Hermione in SS when faced with the Devil’s Snare).

  4. I don’t know much about the American exam grading system, or the UK one, but here in South Africa a pass mark is 50% and if you get one or two results in the 40% range, you can still pass your year provided you achieve a (not very taxing) subminimum. American exchange students here are often horrified not to be getting the 70-90% scores they’re used to at home. Might that be some explanation of how people pass at Hogwarts?

    And, instead of thinking of how inadequate many adult wizards and witches seem to be, shouldn’t we focus on how exceptionally good Hermione must be?

  5. Hmmm, I doubt it Deborah Hubbard. I’m from Ireland but I think we have a similar grading system to the UK. I believe 40% and over is a pass there. I have a feeling the grades at Hogwarts go something like this:

    ‘O’ Outstanding=85-100%
    ‘E’ Exceeds Expectations=70-84%
    ‘A’ Acceptable=50-69%

    ‘P’ Poor=25-49%
    ‘D’ Dreadful=10-24%
    ‘T’ Troll=0-9%

  6. I like the breakdown Seán has provided. It’s similar to what I thought it would be.

  7. Maybe it’s just because I’m American, but that breakdown seems horribly easy. In my grading system, that would mean you could get a very low ‘B’ (which is a bit above average) and still get an outstanding O.W.L.

  8. Lara, honestly I was shocked when I was talking to a girl in America, she said that if you guys get under 70% you fail! But I’m from Ireland and in real life if you get 40% or over, you pass!

  9. Your point about wizards graduating from Hogwarts with a less-than-stellar grasp of magic reminds me of something I’ve been wondering about for a while. To us, and probably to most Muggle-borns, magic is amazing and fascinating and if we were allowed to go to Hogwarts, we would probably all work like crazy to master what we learned because, come on, it’s magic. I know if it were me, I’d make it my life goal to become someone like Dumbledore–a little like loving college so much that you become an academic.

    To wizards, however, magic is commonplace and could therefore be seen as uninteresting by some. I’m always shocked by people like Stan Shunpike who, born with magical abilities and educated in how to use them, can be content to work on a bus. But if you’re surrounded by magic your whole life, I imagine there’s less of a draw to become completely immersed in it, and it’s easy to forget after you graduate. Patricia C. Wrede wrote a book called “Magician’s Ward” where magic is common and taught at university, and in it a character states that everyone learns magic but few people practice it, the same way no one reads Catallus in the original Latin after they leave school.

    The point of this is to say that if Hogwarts students don’t always become great wizards, if grown wizards aren’t always great at magic, it could have less to do with the quality of education they received than with the way they view that magic. I can’t do much algebra anymore, and it’s not because I didn’t get a good education in it; it’s just because I didn’t see a reason to keep it up.

  10. Come on, people!
    What about the profecy!
    Either way, it’s very interesting to know other grading systms. Here, in Argentina, primary and secondary students need 60% (we use 6, we don’t deal with percentage). But we do not have finals, the year is divided in three and you need to pass the three terms. If you do not and your grades are above 40% you sit for a final exam.

  11. I’ve just had a crazy idea, and it’s probably completely wrong but what if the prophecy made by Trelawney wasn’t refering to Wormtail at all but the snake Nagini after all with her venom Voldy gets himself a temporary body. If she was a Horocrux before Voldemort killed the Potters then maybe he put her somewhere for safe keeping, or entrusted her to the care of one of his sympathisers. Either way the snake was unable to get to her master for 12 years but something happened that meant she managed to escape. I mean isn’t it a little weird that we don’t know very much about Voldemort’s snake and where she came from? Who knows maybe its the chocolate high I’m on right now, or maybe I’m insane.

  12. Oops. Please ignore the aove statement, it suddenly occurred to me after I left it that there’s a part in the prophecy that says ‘he who betrayed his friends at Hogwarts …’ which means its impossible for the prophecy to be about Nagini! In my defence its been a while since I read POA and it was definately the buzz from the chocolate talking Lol

  13. I don’t think the point about Hogwarts perhaps being a bad school? I mean, what is there to compare it to? Maybe even “simple spells” only mean simpler than complex spells and are actually pretty difficult to master.

  14. *perhaps being a bad school is valid. I mean…

    My bad, I didn’t read my comment carefully before posting…

  15. “It will happen tonight. The Dark Lord lies alone and friendless, abandoned by his followers. His servant has been chained these twelve years. Tonight, before midnight… the servant will break free and set out to rejoin his master. The Dark Lord will rise again with his servant’s aid, greater and more terrible than ever he was. Tonight… before midnight… the servant… will set out… to rejoin… his master…”

    Doesn’t say anything about Hogwarts, so it could be Nagini…

    There is no way that this could somehow be referring to Barty Crouch, Jr, is there? I just don’t think that Pettigrew has been “chained these twelve years.” Pettigrew was hiding and his cover wasn’t yet blown, but that doesn’t mean he was in any way imprisoned. Crouch Jr, certainly has, though I’m trying to do the math on the dates and I don’t think it works out, unless this is the day that Bertha sees Crouch. Even then, Voldemort comes for him, not the other way around…

  16. About the quality of a Hogwarts education: I know I tend to use Hermione as a base point, and that she’s exceptionally good so that’s a bit unfair. And as she gets older, this becomes less relevant. But there are literally spells that she’s performing in her second or third month at Hogwarts that adults have trouble with, and there’s just no way she’s *that* advanced.

    I love Emily Michelle’s explanation, though, that wizards forget the spells they don’t use over time just like we forget algebra. It makes sense – for instance, a “basic shield charm” is one we’ll hear about grown wizards struggling with, and how many of them (besides Harry Potter…) would have occasion to use it in their everyday lives?

  17. To chime in on the exam scoring, I’m from England and when I did my GCSE exams at the end of school I think the pass mark was 50%. But then, we had four passing grades – C, B, A and A* (that’s A star). 50% makes sense – you pass if you get more questions right than wrong.

    It’s quite thrilling to note that this Divination exam Harry’s life has begun to change forever. One moment his worst problems are passing an exam and a hippogriff being killed, the next the prophecy has been made, and within hours the events of that evening are underway…

  18. Sorry – “that in this Divination exam…”

  19. Wow Yeah here in the United States it’s something like this
    A- 90-100%
    B- 80-90%
    C- 70-80%
    D- 60-70%
    F- 60 and under

  20. Like many others pointed out , I too think Hogwarts ‘is’ actually a very good school.We can see this in the triwizard tournament. Among the three best students chosen from three prestigious institutions Cedric comes out better. We see Krum messing up with the Shark transfiguration. Fleur ,on the other hand, is unable to ward off the Grindylows .

  21. That’s a very good point vandysnape. Harry and Cedric used simple, effective magic and it worked just as it was supposed to. Krum tried to show off and bungled it. Fleur couldn’t get past a creature Harry learned to fight off in his third year. But perhaps she was blindsided.

  22. Well maybe all those wizards just forgot everything? I know that iv already forgotten a bunch of what iv learned this year (I’m on break) and I love love love t he picture of hermione freAking out over the failed exams.. But I can’t really reAd some if the words except for “hermione, you’ve failed all your exams” and “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” so can someone like translate it? Or Errr like I gues the proper term would b reAd it And write it down for med? Haha thanks!

  23. Obsessive, here’s the link to that picture on the Heather Campbell’s deviantArt site:

    If you click on the picture, it will zoom in and should be large enough for you to read everything. :)

  24. I was always curious what Professor Trelawney did about Harry’s exam. She probably scored him just okay at first, but when he turn out to be right, do you think she’d go back and change it? And was it a real prediction? I mean he may not have consciously known he was making a prediction, but it could have been.

  25. I never thought about it, but when did voldy get the snake?

  26. @Erica4hope
    It is likely that Voldemort got Nagini in Albania..We know that he made Nagini a horcrux after killing Bertha Jorkins. Bertha was on a Vacation to Albania.. So putting two and two together it is possible that he found Nagini in Albania.

  27. im in the US and i have i have to say that what counts as passing really depends on your state, school county and whether or not you are in college or high school. in high school in miami FL i know people were able to pass the year getting nothing but D all the way across the board for every grading period. we have four grading period where we got a grade in adn then after two grading periods wewould have a midterm and then two more grading periods and finals. as long as you got ten “points” for the year you passed (f=0 d=1 c=2 b=3 a=4). grading periods were 1x the value of the letter grade and midtersm and finals were 2x the value. plus you had to get 5 of those ten points in the second half of the year. meaning you could get all D’s and pass the grade.

    in college things generally change and aremore universal around the country. you have to get a C for the class to count as a class you passed and count towards gradaution. passing being a C = 70%

    but our classes here tend to be easier than in a lot of the world… or so i’ve learned from my friends in others parts of the world

  28. Isn’t the pair of scurrying feet Harry and Hermione after they’ve used the time turner? I think the door slamming was them hiding in a broom cupboard.
    When they hide in the closet Hermione listens at the door and says “Someone’s coming! I think it might be us!” So I figured the trio heard them going into hiding.

  29. There is an essay in ‘The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy: Hogwarts for Muggles’ that talks about the quality of education at Hogwarts. It raises some interesting points; for instance, what about a literature class? Or Latin, seeing as you could then use that knowledge to create your own spells? And why on earth does Dumbledore let Professor Binns continue to teach, when NO ONE (including Binns himself!) pays any attention in his class?

  30. I always just assumed that magic is something that needs to be practiced constantly or else you lose it. It’s like flexibility and endurance. If you only use certain spells a lot, then the ones you ignore for a while are a little rusty on first try. Also, magic is very theory-based on the testing level, and it takes a lot of concentration. If you’re nervous when asked to perform a spell, you may not have the correct concentration to cast it well, it may come out poorly.

  31. I was also always confused about the profession of teaching. Obviously, there is NO ONE in line to be a teacher at Hogwarts. If they have to continue to employ something who had DIED… It’s kind of sad. As an education student myself, I always wonder why no one in the Wizarding World seems to consider the profession of teaching except for the teachers already there. Dumbledore has to go find people to fill a spot. They have no training in the art of teaching at all.

  32. For those fighting over whether or not the prophecy had to do with Nagini, Crouch, or Petigrew:

    Occam’s razor, you guys. The simplest solution is most often the correct one. Since we know that Peter Petigrew abandons his whole I-am-a-filthy-rat-man-in-hiding strategy, uses his own arm to bring Voldemort back to his body, so on and so forth, can we just assume that it was him? Also, it was exactly twelve years, since he went into hiding the day Sirius found out about the Potters and came after him (probably the day after Voldemort’s spell rebounded).

    We know everything about Peter and hardly anything about Barty Crouch Jr. or Nagini. The simplest solution is often the correct one. It’s clearly what Rowling was intending.

  33. Roya, thats a good point. But if you’ve been involved in many Harry potter disscusions you’ll know we tend to not go for the simplest solution. Rather we go towards the coolest or most interesting one. Or that’s what I’ve noticed. Lol

  34. I wonder why Trelawney thought that she did not make the prediction? It makes me wonder what happens to a Seer when he or she makes a genuine prediction.

  35. I live in New Hampshire, US, and all throughout my life, since elementary school, D’s didn’t exist for me and my classmates. It’s always been 70 – 100% passing range, and anything lower than 70% was a fail. I went to public school up until sophomore year of high school and it hasn’t ever changed. Those I tell this to tend to tell me that means I’ve been well-prepared for college, which I suppose is true. So it always surprises me when I see grades like 50% being a pass. Makes me wish I could have lived in a place like Ireland as a child n_n

    I also completely agree with everything Emily Michelle said in her comment. It all makes complete sense to me, and couldn’t have put it better myself =]

  36. I just got my first Semester Year 11 English mark back, and was displeased to get a B with 72% (A was 75%). I guess I must have always taken for granted the fact that 50% was a pass for granted.

    If we Australians got told we needed 70% to pass…

  37. Casey, I think that just because the pass mark is 50% in Ireland, the UK and many other places, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easier than in the US. I think you’ll find that it all correlates, so that the difficulty of getting 50ish% is similar to the difficulty of getting 70ish% in the US.

  38. I just feel like I have to comment about the quote from JKR about Hermione, because it rings so true to me. I have no trouble at all relating to Hermione and, yes, recognizing myself in her, although not as extreme. In school, I did try and make up for my weaker sides by being good in the school subjects, so I could feel some kind of satisfaction over at least some things I accomplished. It’s something I also see in a lot of girls around me and it really is quite sad.
    Just felt like commenting it, since nobody else seems to have brought it up.

  39. I completely agree with you Amanda. I wasn’t as bad as Hermione, but I used to feel a constant need to be established as “the smart one” at some point during my classes. It was something I was good at and something that wouldn’t change or be taken away. It wasn’t 24/7 but it was there. It’s why I love Hermione’s character so much especially in the later books as you see how she develops.

  40. I have to laugh at 50% being passing. How is that passing when, by definition of 50%, you got just as much wrong as you did right?

  41. Is everyone who goes to a good school later on good in math? Or in languages? Wizards are like Muggles – not all of them are stellar students. And for not knowing the basics – knowledge you don’t need is lost pretty fast.
    Hogwarts isn’t perfect – and that’s a good thing. Nothing would be as unrealistic as a school withouth the strict, the boring, the motherly, the incompetent teacher. But that doesn’t make it a bad school. Obviously, degrees of Hogwarts are good enough that they are considered acceptable all over the world. Otherwise, Bill wouldn’t be able to work in egypt and Charlie in Rumania.

  42. Nice comments about the exams and wizards forgetting stuff. Especially the point about Muggleborns trying harder cos it’s new! Bet that annoys the purebloods…..

  43. However, just another thought… I hope Pottermore shows what clubs you can join and all that, as Harry (typical boy) isn’t really interested in anything apart from Quiddich! Oh, and the DA in later years.

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