Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

by

J. K. Rowling

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O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s Symbol Icon

O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels) and N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests) are administered in the fifth and seventh years to Hogwarts students, and a student's grade on those tests determines what jobs students can apply for and hold as adults. The tests’ existence encapsulates the Ministry's vision of what a good, proper future looks like for students: no matter what particular job a student chooses, it's one that's Ministry-approved. However, several characters, including Fred, George, and Harry, show through their actions that these standardized tests are only one way to measure success and in actuality, they don't reveal anything especially useful about students. Despite Fred and George's three passing O.W.L.s each, they still manage to develop compelling joke products and open a shop, proof that while school itself was useful for them, the tests were entirely useless. Harry, though he's a middling student, is also very successful fighting Voldemort in the real world despite not even having scores yet. Through Fred, George, and Harry's experiences, the novel suggests that the O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s actually represent the closed-mindedness of the Ministry, its desire to control the population by dictating young people's futures, and its unwillingness to look at people as multifaceted individuals.

O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s Quotes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix quotes below all refer to the symbol of O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Purpose of Education Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scholastic edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix published in 2004.
Chapter Seventeen Quotes

"You know, I don't get why Fred and George only got three O.W.L.s each," said Harry, watching as Fred, George, and Lee collected gold from the eager crowd. "They really know their stuff..."

Related Characters: Harry Potter (speaker), Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Percy Weasley
Related Symbols: O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s
Page Number: 368
Explanation and Analysis:
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O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s Symbol Timeline in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The timeline below shows where the symbol O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s appears in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Twelve
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...advertise for testers in the common room, but the twins insist that with it being O.W.L. year, Hermione will soon want a Snackbox for herself. They reminisce about the breakdowns their... (full context)
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Trauma, Silence, and Speech Theme Icon
Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
War: Excitement vs. The Mundane Theme Icon
...reminds the class that he expects them all to achieve "Acceptable" results in their Potions O.W.L. He glares at Harry and says that most students won't continue on to the N.E.W.T.... (full context)
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...out his temper on them. Trelawney welcomes the class before Harry can reply. She mentions O.W.L.s, but says that grades don't matter for the "sacred art." The students work on interpreting... (full context)
Chapter Thirteen
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Trauma, Silence, and Speech Theme Icon
...and Hermione furiously cries that Dumbledore can't possibly expect Umbridge to teach them in their O.W.L. year. Ron reminds Hermione that Umbridge also wants students to spy for her, and they... (full context)
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Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
The next morning, both Flitwick and McGonagall also start their classes by talking about O.W.L.s. McGonagall insists that even Neville can do well in Transfiguration if he studies and builds... (full context)
Chapter Fifteen
Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...and it's at least the right color. At lunch, Hermione, Fred, and George discuss the O.W.L. grading system. The lowest grade is (according to the twins) T for "Troll," and Harry... (full context)
Chapter Sixteen
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...their Defense Against the Dark Arts education into their own hands, both to pass their O.W.L.s and because Voldemort is back. Zacharias Smith, a Hufflepuff Quidditch player, asks Hermione for proof,... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen
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Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...the Puking Pastilles. Harry can't figure out how Fred and George each only got three O.W.L.s, since they're clearly knowledgeable and making money. (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Seven
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The fifth years begin suffering from O.W.L. stress and the only thing that makes Harry happy are D.A. meetings. He introduces Patronuses... (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Eight
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...Harry locates teenage Snape and sees that he's taking his Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. Harry also finds James, Sirius, Lupin, and Wormtail. James and Sirius are extremely handsome. (full context)
Chapter Twenty-Nine
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...she can give career counseling, along with pamphlets discussing possible jobs. Several jobs require high N.E.W.T. scores in a number of subjects. (full context)
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Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...he'd like to be an Auror. McGonagall tells Harry what he needs in terms of O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, including continuing with Potions, and ignores Umbridge's coughs. Umbridge finally interrupts and says... (full context)
Chapter Thirty
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...too curious about the room to try to stop the dreams. Unfortunately for Harry, with O.W.L.s approaching, he often dreams about exams. (full context)
Chapter Thirty-One
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Choices, Family, and Love Theme Icon
...next few days, professors stop assigning homework so the fifth years can study for their O.W.L.s, and several students begin acting strangely. Ernie interrogates people about how many hours per day... (full context)
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Their first O.W.L. is Charms. In the morning, the students file into the Great Hall and take the... (full context)
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...and Umbridge won't care that Hagrid has an alibi. On Monday, they take their Potions O.W.L., and though Harry finds it difficult, both he and Neville do well in the practical... (full context)
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The practical Astronomy O.W.L. is that evening on the Astronomy Tower. The students set up their telescopes and begin... (full context)