He was a fine student in most subjects, [Einstein] scholars say. In an 1895 letter by a close family friend looking after the then-16- year-old Einstein, he was referred to as a "wunderkind."
There are no records of Einstein's grades in primary school, according to Robert Schulmann, a contributing editor to the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and a historian of science. The head of Einstein's Munich secondary school published his grades in 1929; they show he mostly did well (he always, for example, received at least a 2 in Latin, with 1 the highest and 4 the lowest).
In 1895, he failed a test to study at a Zurich polytechnic university. According to Schulmann, the failure was probably because of his lack of knowledge in French. In the fall of 1896, he entered the same school, and for the first two quarters, he got mostly 1's and 2's in his courses, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst. But then, the school reversed the system, making 1 the worst and 6 the best. His record suddenly shows mostly 6's and 5's. Some Einstein biographers didn't know about the policy change.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.