Platform Nine and Three Quarters

The first year students on their way to Hogwarts

" There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words."
—A lesson all first years learn[src]

A first year is a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who is new to Hogwarts and in their first year of magical education. Those who receive their Hogwarts letter at age eleven are permitted to attend.

Starting Hogwarts

Travelling to Hogwarts

"Firs'-years! Firs'-years over here!"
Rubeus Hagrid greeting new students[src]
Hogwarts Arrival HPPS poster

First years travelling across the Black Lake on boats, to reach Hogwarts

First years are typically eleven to twelve years of age, and begin the year by boarding the Hogwarts Express at exactly 11 a.m. on 1 September, from King's Cross Station on which they travel to Hogwarts. If they live in Hogsmeade, they do not need to catch the train. From there, first year students are accompanied by the Keeper of Keys and Grounds (or another suitable teacher if they are absent), along a shady path that leads to a fleet of small boats, which sail themselves across the Black Lake before arriving at a small landing stage near the base of Hogwarts Castle; they then await their turn to be Sorted into their houses. A teacher takes them to a small room where they await the Sorting ceremony. Older students ride up to the castle in carriages pulled by Thestrals.

The Start-of-Term Feast

"Everybody finished the song at different times. At last, only the Weasley twins were left singing along to a very slow funeral march"
—How the Hogwarts song finished in Harry Potter's first year[src]
Pottermore background the sorting ceremony

1991 Hogwarts Sorting Ceremony

Just before the Start-of-Term Feast begins, new students are Sorted into one of four houses (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin) by the Sorting Hat. The Hat analyses each student's mind, looking for specific characteristics that it uses to decide where to put each student. After the sorting, the Headmaster says a few words and the feast begins. After the feast, the headmaster says a few more words; if he or she is feeling particularly festive, they will direct the students as they sing the school song, such as the year Harry Potter came to Hogwarts. Dumbledore used his wand as a conductor's baton, conjuring a ribbon that floated in the air, forming the words for the students to sing along with, each singing to the tune of their choice. Not all Professors are overfond of the song, but, Albus Dumbledore, the wise and odd man he was, conducted the singing with gusto and even teared up in the end:

Hogwarts, Hogwarts,
Hoggy Warty Hogwarts
Teach us something, please,
Whether we be old and bald
Or young with scabby knees,
Our heads could do with filling
With some interesting stuff,
For now they're bare and full of air,
Dead flies and bits of fluff,
So teach us things worth knowing,
Bring back what we've forgot,
Just do your best, we'll do the rest,
And learn until our brains all rot.

During the first year


"To their great surprise, both he and Ron passed with good marks; Hermione, of course, had the best grades of the first years. Even Neville scraped through, his good Herbology grade making up for his abysmal Potions one."
—Harry's first experiences with end of the year exams[src]

Severus Snape teaching Potions to a first-year class

First year students must take: Transfiguration, Charms, Potions, History of Magic, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Astronomy, and Herbology, classes that are mandatory throughout their first five years of magical education. First years, and only first years, are required to take flying, where they learn the basic commands to give to their broomstick, as well as basic tricks and tips for riding.[1] As most of the first years have probably never flown before arriving at Hogwarts school.

Charms class in 1991

A first year charms class

In Astronomy, students observe the sky with their telescopes, learning the names and movements of the stars, planets and their moon(s). Charms students learn the Levitation Charm, the Softening Charm, the Fire-Making Spell, and, as the exam requires them to make a pineapple dance across a desk, presumably the dancing charm. Defence Against the Dark Arts classes teach the Curse of the Bogies, the Knockback Jinx, and different ways to treat werewolf bites. Herbology students study various plants and fungi, such as Dittany and Devil's Snare. In History of Magic, students learn the names and dates of various famous events and people, including Emeric the Evil, Uric the Oddball, the Warlock's Convention of 1709, the inventor of the self-stirring cauldron, various goblin rebellions, and the uprise of Elfric the Eager. Transfiguration students must take complex notes before learning the spell to turn a match into a needle, the mouse into snuffbox spell, and the Switching Spell. Lastly, potions students learn the Cure for Boils potion, and the Forgetfulness Potion.

First year restrictions

"Parents are reminded that first years are not allowed their own broomsticks"
—Extract from the Hogwarts acceptance letter[src]

First years cannot go to Hogsmeade with the students in the third year or above, and are not permitted to have their own broomstick inside the school grounds or join the Quidditch team, an exception being Harry Potter, who was given a Nimbus 2000 in his first year and that same year, joined the Gryffindor Quidditch team. They are further forbidden from taking Divination, Muggle Studies, Study of Ancient Runes, Care of Magical Creatures and Arithmancy until third year, and Apparition and Alchemy until sixth year.

Required textbooks


Notes and references

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