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

Doing Well on This Test Opens the Door to Graduate School

Student taking test
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So you got the results from your Graduate Record Exam, or GRE. Now what? How do you know if you did well? How do you interpret GRE scores? What’s a good score on the GRE?

GRE Score Range

Many applicants find the verbal and quantitative subtest scores confusing because they fall on a scale ranging from 130 to 170, in 1-point increments. The analytical writing section yields a score ranging from 0 to 6, in half-point increments.

Clearly,​ a score of 130 is very poor and a score of 170 is exceptional, but what about the scores in between? 

Average GRE Score

The 50th percentile represents the average, or mean, GRE score. The mean for the quantitative section is 151.91 (or 152);  verbal is 150.75 (151) and analytical writing is 3.61.

A Good GRE Score

Average scores vary depending on the academic field, but it is reasonable to assume that applicants should score, at a minimum, in the 60 to 65th percentile—that is lower than most doctoral programs will accept. The 80th percentile is a decent score. A score at the 90th percentile and above is excellent and can contribute to satisfying graduate school opportunities. It goes without saying that the higher your GRE score the better your chances are to get into grad school, period, and also more selective and therefore higher quality schools.

The tables below indicate percentiles for each subtest.

Each percentile represents the percentage of test-takers who score below the corresponding score.

Verbal and Quantitative Score Percentiles (Percent of Test-Takers Scoring Below Each GRE Score)

      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 Percentiles (Percent of Test-Takers Scoring Below Each GRE Score)

     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

 

 

The Graduate Record Exam is a critical part of your 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 best 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, Oct. 26, 2017, thoughtco.com/do-you-have-a-good-gre-score-how-to-tell-1686221. Kuther, Tara, Ph.D. (2017, October 26). 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 November 21, 2017).