These days, we know Hawking as a brilliant mind whose theories are difficult for a nonscientific mind to grasp. This is why it may come as a shock to learn that Hawking was a slacker when it came to his school studies.
In fact, when he was 9 years old, his grades ranked among the worst in his class [source: Larsen]. With a little more effort, he brought those grades up to about average, but not much better.
Nevertheless, from an early age he was interested in how stuff worked. He has talked about how he was known to disassemble clocks and radios. However, he admits he wasn't very good at putting them back together so they could work again.
Despite his poor grades, both his teachers and his peers seemed to understand that they had a future genius among them, evidenced by the fact that his nickname was "Einstein."
The problem with his mediocre grades was that his father wanted to send him to Oxford, but didn't have the money without a scholarship. Luckily, when it came time for the scholarship exams, he aced them, getting an almost perfect score on the physics exam.