What's a Good GRE Score? Here's How to Tell

Doing well on this test opens doors to graduate schools

Student taking test
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So you got the results from your Graduate Record Exam. Now what? To determine if you did well, you'll need to learn about how the GRE is scored and how all test-takers are ranked. Nearly 585,000 people took the GRE in 2015-2016, according to the Educational Testing Service, a nonprofit group that developed and administers the test. How well you did on the GRE depends on how many questions you answered correctly and how you stacked up against all of the other test-takers in the U.S. and around the globe.

GRE Score Range

The GRE is divided into three parts: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. The verbal and quantitative subtests yield scores ranging from 130 to 170, in one-point increments. These are called your scaled scores. Most graduate schools consider the verbal and quantitative sections to be particularly important in making decisions about applicants. The analytical writing section yields a score ranging from zero to six, in half-point increments

Kaplan's, which provides higher-education training materials and programs, breaks down the top scores as follows:

Best Scores

  • Verbal: 163–170
  • Quantitative: 165–170
  • Writing: 5.0–6.0

Competitive Scores:

  • Verbal: 158–162
  • Quantitative: 159–164
  • Writing: 4.5

Good Scores

  • Verbal: 150–158
  • Quantitative: 153–158
  • Writing: 4.0

Percentile Rank

The Princeton Review, a company that offers college test-preparation services, notes that in addition to your scaled score, you also need to look at your percentile rank, which it says is more important than your scaled score.

Your percentile rank indicates how your GRE scores compare to those of other test takers. 

The 50th percentile represents the average, or mean, GRE score. The mean for the quantitative section is 151.91 (or 152); for verbal, it's 150.75 (151); and for analytical writing, it's 3.61. Those are, of course, average scores.

 Average scores vary depending on the academic field, but applicants should score, at a minimum, in the 60th to 65th percentile. The 80th percentile is a decent score, while a score at the 90th percentile and above is excellent.

The tables below indicate percentiles for each of the GRE's subtest: verbal, quantitative, and writing. Each percentile represents the percentage of test-takers who scored above and below the corresponding score. So, if you scored 161 on the GRE verbal test, you would be at the 87th percentile, which is a pretty good figure. This would mean you did better than 87 percent of the people who took the test and worse than 13 percent. If you scored a 150 on your quantitative test, you would be at the 41st percentile, meaning that you did better than 41 percent of those who took the test ​but worse than 59 percent.

      Verbal Subtest Score     

 

     Quantitative Subtest Score   

     Score

     Percentile

 

     Score

   Percentile

      170

        99

 

     170

        98

      169

        99

 

     169

        97

      168

        98

 

     168

        96

      167

        97

 

     167

        95

      166

        96

 

     166

        93

      165

        95

 

     165

        91

      164

        93

 

      164

        89

      163

        91

 

     163

        87

      162

        89

 

     162

        84

      161

        87

 

     161

        81

      160

        84

 

     160

        78

      159

        81

 

     159

        75

      158

        78

 

     158

        72

      157

        73

 

     157

         69

      156

        70

 

     156

        65

      155

        66

 

     155

        61

      154

        62

 

     154

        57

      153

        58

 

     153

        53

      152

        53

 

     152

         49

      151

        49

 

     151

        45

      150

        44

 

     150

        41

      149

        40

 

     149

        37

      148

        36

 

     148

        33

      147

        32

 

     147

        29

      146

        28

 

     146

        25

      145

        24

 

     145

        22

      144

        21

 

     144

        18

      143

        18

 

     143

        15

      142

        15

 

     142

        13

      141

        12

 

     141

        11

      140

        10

 

     140

         8

      139

         7

 

     139

         6

      138

         6

 

     138

         5

      137

         5

 

     137

         3

      136

         3

 

     136

         2

      135

         2

 

     135

         2

      134

         2

 

     134

         1

      133

         1

 

     133

         1

      132

         1

 

     132

         1

      131

         1

 

     131

         1

 

     Analytical Writing Score  

     Score

     Percentile 

     6.0

       99

     5.5

       97

     5.0

       93

     4.5

       78

     4.0

       54

     3.5

       35

     3.0

       14

     2.5

        6

     2.0

        2

     1.5

        1

       1

 

       .5

 

       0

 

Tips and Advice

The GRE is a critical part of your graduate school application. It is required by nearly all doctoral programs and many, if not most, master’s programs. With so much riding on one standardized exam, it’s in your interest to prepare as best you can. Aim to learn vocabulary, sharpen your math skills and practice writing arguments.  Learn test-taking strategies, take practice exams, and if you can, enroll in a GRE prep course. Prepare early and well to yield your best GRE score.

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Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "What's a Good GRE Score? Here's How to Tell." ThoughtCo, Jan. 14, 2018, thoughtco.com/do-you-have-a-good-gre-score-how-to-tell-1686221. Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. (2018, January 14). What's a Good GRE Score? Here's How to Tell. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/do-you-have-a-good-gre-score-how-to-tell-1686221 Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. "What's a Good GRE Score? Here's How to Tell." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/do-you-have-a-good-gre-score-how-to-tell-1686221 (accessed January 21, 2018).