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Fifth year

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OWLS 1996

O.W.L exams being taken in the Great Hall

"Anyway, it's a nightmare of a year, the fifth."
George Weasley's opinion of fifth year[src]

A fifth year is a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who is in their fifth year of magical education. Fifth years are typically fifteen to sixteen years of age. During the end of this year students take Ordinary Wizarding Level examinations, in order to determine what sujects they are allowed to take at N.E.W.T.-level.

During the fifth year

"You realise we've got to write three essays, practise Vanishing Spells for McGonagall, work out a countercharm for Flitwick, finish the bowtruckle drawling, and start that stupid dream diary for Trelawney?"
Harry Potter on the increase of homework during O.W.L. year[src]
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The trio in their fifth year

The fifth year is enormously important for students due to the fact that it is the year in which they must sit their O.W.L. exams, which will determine what N.E.W.T. courses they will be permitted to take later on in their education. O.W.L.s determine what job opportunities they can pursue in the future. The fifth year is also the year in which students receive career counselling from their Heads of House. It is during this meeting that they will be advised as to what N.E.W.T.-level classes they should take in order to qualify for their desired career. The amount of homework for each class is also increased drastically and much of the year is spent studying.


Fifth year students must take Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, History of Magic, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy and Herbology. They must also take at least two of Divination, Arithmancy, Study of Ancient Runes, Care of Magical Creatures, and Muggle Studies.[1]


Period Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
First History of Magic




Second (first half)
Second (second half) Potions


Third Transfiguration




Fourth Divination/
Study of Ancient Runes[2]


Fifth Defence Against the Dark Arts


Care of Magical Creatures


Sixth Herbology


Care of Magical Creatures


Defence Against the Dark Arts


Evening Astronomy


Period unknown



"There's been a mistake. No one in their right mind would make Ron a prefect..."
Fred Weasley[src]

Every year, one male and female Fifth Year student per House is selected to become a Prefect by the professor who was appointed Head of the House in which they are, though the Headmaster may intervene, as with Harry Potter's case (Professor Dumbledore thought he had enough responsibilities to go with). They would likely continue to be Prefects in their sixth and Seventh years. Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley became Prefects for Gryffindor house in Harry's Fifth year.

Required textbooks

Harry Potter's fifth year (1995-1996)

""Well, he [Harry] has obviously been through a lot since book one, and book five was the book when he cracked up a little."
J. K. Rowling regarding Harry in his fifth year[src]
Dolores Umbridge Deathly Hallows promotional image

Dolores Umbridge the new Defence professor

When Harry, Ron, and Hermione returned to Hogwarts, they were surprised to hear that Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister (and who was at Harry's hearing) was the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. During their first lesson, they discovered that Umbridge refused to teach practical defence methods and that they would not be performing any spells, only learning Ministry of Magic-approved theory (learning in a "risk-free way"). It became clear she was really there to spy on and take control of the school from Dumbledore. She was soon appointed Hogwarts High Inquisitor, arbitrarily imposing rules and regulations (known as "Educational Decrees". She also harboured racial hatred for "half-breeds," such as centaurs, werewolves, and similar creatures. She considered Rubeus Hagrid (a half-giant) and Sybill Trelawney incompetent, and sacked Trelawney (with Hagrid being dismissed later). Although Dumbledore was unable to prevent Trelawney's dismissal, he invoked his authority to allow her to remain in the castle and appointed a new Divination teacher — a centaur, Firenze.



Harry's mind being invaded by Snape during their Occlumency lessons

Harry had been having disturbing dreams about running down a hallway and attempting to open a door in the Ministry of Magic's Department of Mysteries. He also dreamt he was a snake attacking Ron's father. Mr Weasley was indeed found injured at the Ministry, suffering from severe venomous snake bites. Harry feared he was being possessed by Voldemort. In response, Dumbledore ordered Severus Snape teach Harry Occlumency to block his mind from intrusion, but their mutual animosity ended their lessons prematurely.

The Quibbler

Due to high number of students who were sceptical about Voldemort´s return, Hermione Granger blackmailed journalist (and unregistered Animagus) Rita Skeeter into writing a favourable article about Harry witnessing Voldemort's return. Ravenclaw student Luna Lovegood, a close friend of Ginny, convinced her father to publish the story in his paper, The Quibbler. Furious, Umbridge banned the tabloid from the school, but the story spread rapidly, gathering support for Harry. Many in the wizarding community also now believed Harry.

Dumbledore's Army

Main article: Dumbledore's Army
"Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now: students. If they can do it, why not us?"
—Harry Potter encouraging D.A. members[src]
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Harry instructs Neville Longbottom and others during a D.A. meeting

Hermione convinced Harry to secretly teach students Defence Against the Dark Arts. Though at first reluctant, Harry finally accepted. They name their clandestine group "Dumbledore's Army", or D.A. for short, to mock the Ministry of Magic, which feared Dumbledore was creating a secret wizard army. When Umbridge uncovered the group's meetings, which was due to Cho Chang's friend Marietta Edgecombe, Dumbledore claimed that he organised it. Confronted by two Aurors, John Dawlish and Kingsley Shacklebolt (who was not loyal to the Ministry, but to Dumbledore), Minister Fudge, his assistant Percy Weasley, and Umbridge, Dumbledore easily disabled them and was spectacularly whisked away by his phoenix, Fawkes. Umbridge was appointed Headmistress and imposed even tighter control. Fed up, the Weasley twins instigated a revolt, causing mayhem throughout the school while the staff pointedly did nothing to help Umbridge regain control. This marked the end of Fred and George's magical education, who now opted to move into their magical tricks and joke shop in Diagon Alley, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.

Skirmish in the Forbidden Forest

""Filthy half-breeds! Beasts! Uncontrolled animals!"
—Dolores Umbridge to a herd of centaurs[src]
Centaurs Take Dolores OotP

The centaur colony abducting Umbridge

Harry received a vision that Sirius was being tortured at the Department of Mysteries, although Hermione suspected it may have been a trap. Harry desperately attempted to contact Sirius at 12 Grimmauld Place via the Floo Network in Umbridge's office fireplace, but he was caught. Umbridge revealed it was she who sent the Dementors to attack Harry during the summer. As she was about to use the Cruciatus Curse on him, Hermione claimed that Dumbledore had hidden a powerful weapon in the Forbidden Forest. She led Harry and Umbridge into the forest, where they encountered a herd of centaurs. Umbridge foolishly insulted them, and an angry centaur picked up Umbridge and carried her off screaming into the woods. When Hagrid's giant half-brother, Grawp crashed onto the scene, Hermione and Harry escaped amid the chaos.

Department of Mysteries

""Did you actually believe, or are you truly naive enough to think, that children stood a chance against us? I'll make this simple for you, Potter. Give me the prophecy now... or watch your friends die."
—Lucius Malfoy attempting to persuade Harry Potter to hand over the prophecy[src]
Thestral on air

Members of the D.A. ride Thestrals to the ministry of Magic

Harry, Ron, and Hermione, along with Luna Lovegood, Ginny Weasley, and Neville Longbottom flew to the Ministry of Magic using the school's Thestrals, unaware they were being lured into a trap. When they arrived at the Department of Mysteries, they were ambushed by Death Eaters. Voldemort sought a prophecy contained in a glass sphere there and needed Harry to retrieve it for him.

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Harry and Sirius battling Death Eaters

The students heroically fought the Death Eaters, but they were outmatched. They were nearly defeated, but Order of the Phoenix members suddenly arrived to help them. During the ensuing battle, the glass sphere was shattered and the prophecy lost. Sirius Black was blasted with a spell by his Death Eater cousin, Bellatrix Lestrange, and falling backwards, disappeared through a mysterious veiled archway. Remus Lupin restrained Harry, who wanted to follow and rescue Sirius, telling him that Sirius was dead. Dumbledore arrived and the Death Eaters, except for Bellatrix, were captured. Lord Voldemort appeared and duelled with Dumbledore as Ministry of Magic employees arrived in time to see the Dark Lord before he Disapparated, taking Bellatrix with him. Cornelius Fudge finally admitted Voldemort had returned, Dumbledore was reinstated as Headmaster of Hogwarts, Umbridge was removed from Hogwarts, Sirius was honoured a hero by the wizarding community for his hand in saving the Ministry from the Death Eater intrusion and Harry's interview with Rita Skeeter was reprinted in the Daily Prophet.


Albus Dumbledore telling Harry the whole prophecy

Later, Dumbledore apologised to Harry for withholding information over the past year. He revealed the lost prophecy, for it was to him that it was first told: either Harry or Voldemort must die at the hands of the other, for neither could live while the other survived. Dumbledore also revealed that, due to when the boy was predicted to be born, Neville Longbottom could also have been the child in the prophecy. Dumbledore believed Voldemort chose to attack Harry because he was a half-blood like himself; Neville was a pure-blood. In so doing, the Dark Lord marked Harry as his equal.


Notes and references

Hogwarts years
First - Second - Third - Fourth - Fifth - Sixth - Seventh