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What is a Good GRE Score?

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) General Test is graded in three categories and produces one overall score. The GRE Subject Tests, however, produce one single score. But what is a good GRE score? Ultimately, the answer depends on what you are shooting for. 

In this article, we’ll get into some ways to evaluate whether your GRE score is good enough for your aspirations. We’ll cover both general test scoring and subject test scoring. Afterwards, we’ll go over some ways to help improve your score if you aren’t where you want to be. Let’s get into it:

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What is the GRE?

ETS, or Educational Testing Service, offers the GRE to assess students’ ability to perform in graduate school. It is one of the most widely used assessments to determine graduate school admissions. The GRE General Test is comprised of an overall assessment of students’ data analytics, writing, and reading comprehension skills. GRE Subject Tests, on the other hand, offer a specialized assessment of a student’s abilities in one field.

Related: What is the GRE? Everything you need to know

What is the range of possible GRE scores?

The GRE General Test and the GRE Subject Test are each scored differently. Here’s a rundown of how each is scored.

Also see: Advice for low test takers

GRE General Test

The GRE General Test is broken down into four scores. You’ll receive a general score and a score for each type of section. These break down to a quantitative reasoning score, a verbal reasoning score, and an analytical writing score. Here are the score ranges for each:

Quantitative Reasoning Score 130-170
Verbal Reasoning Score 130-170
Analytical Writing Score 0-6
General Score 260-340

Your scores for quantitative and verbal reasoning will be in divisions of one, while your analytical writing score will be in divisions of 0.5. Your general score is the sum of your quantitative and verbal reasoning scores. The analytical writing score does not factor into the general score.

GRE Subject Test

GRE Subject Tests only yield a single score. This score will be between 200 and 990, in ten-point increments. Unlike the General Test, Subject Tests are not divided into sections.

What percentile is my GRE score?

As with all standardized tests, the best way to make sense of your score is to look at what percentile you scored in. This will show you how you compare to other students and how your test will make you stand out from the crowd.

GRE General Test

You can find the latest GRE General Test percentiles on their website. Here is a sampling of their latest percentile data as of November 2021:

Verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections:

Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Percentile Quantitative Reasoning Percentile
170 99 96
169 99 94
168 98 91
167 98 89
166 97 86
165 96 84
164 94 81
163 92 79
162 90 76
161 88 74
160 85 70
150 44 35
140 12 7
130 0 0

 

Analytical writing section:

Score Level Percentile
6.0 99
5.5 98
5.0 91
4.5 80
4.0 54
3.5 37
3.0 13
2.5 5
2.0 1
0.0 – 1.5 0

GRE Subject Test

You can find the latest GRE Subject Test percentiles on their website. Each test has different percentile conversions, so make sure to find the one for the test you took.

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What GRE score do I need to get into grad school?

When it comes down to it, a good GRE score is the score that you need to get into your desired school. Of course, this number varies widely based on what your desired school is. Your first step when setting a GRE score goal should be to look up the schools you are considering. You can use this tool to discover what the average admitted GRE score has been in previous years. Try to shoot for a number that falls in that ballpark.

If you are not scoring close to your desired school GRE score, it’s a good idea to consider other options with lower average scores. But don’t give up on your dream school! Remember that grad schools consider many factors aside from GRE scores. These include grades, work experience, other application materials such as essays, and other projects.

Also see: Grad school financing options

Does the experimental section count towards my GRE score?

Each GRE General Test contains an experimental section. You won’t know which section this is, but it will remain unscored. These sections are strictly to aid in the development of future GRE General Tests. They will not count towards your GRE score. However, since you won’t know which section is experimental, you’ll have to try your best at each section to maximize your score.

How many times can I take the GRE?

Technically, you can take the GRE as many times as you’d like. But you can only take it a maximum of once per 21 days, and 5 times per year. That being said, because of its $205 price tag, you probably won’t want to take it this many times anyway! If you are struggling to achieve the score you want, you should take practice tests to improve your skills before taking another real exam.

Also see: Everything you need to know about a doctorate degree

How to improve your GRE score

If your GRE score isn’t where you want it to be, don’t fret. You can use your scores to help pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and hone your study plan. Try to block off some time each day to study to help improve your score. You can also check out Khan Academy’s resources to help study for the quantitative reasoning section. Students can also take up to two free practice tests through Powerprep and use their test preview tool to familiarize themselves with the exam. Another great option for free test prep is the Manhattan Review’s extensive collection of free sample questions.

If you can afford it, a test prep tutor can also be a great option to help keep you on track and get a better understanding of your weak points. You can also try forming a study group with classmates or friends who are also studying for the exam. This is a great, free way to work as a team to prepare.

Summing it up

  • The GRE is one of the most utilized tests for grad school admissions
  • They offer both subject tests and a general exam
  • The idea of a good GRE score varies by student. Students looking into more competitive grad schools will have to score higher to gain admission. Make sure to look into the average accepted GRE score for your program
  • The GRE isn’t everything when it comes to grad school admissions. Your college grades, work experience, and application materials also play a big part
  • If your score isn’t where you want it to be, you have many opportunities to catch up

Also see: How to make the most out of your senior year of college