The Graduate Record Examination or, as we commonly call it, the GRE is an examination designed for candidates who want to apply for graduate programmes. As you might be aware, GRE is a globally accepted, computer-based or paper-based multiple-choice examination, which consists of three sections— Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical writing. In the following sections, we will explore how GRE scores work, what might be considered a good score. We will also outline the validity of these scores and some tips to help you understand the scoring scheme.
GRE scores and the scoring scheme might seem complex and might intimidate your attempt of trying to decode them. But a closer look at understanding the scores will make you realise that it is a simple task after all. It is essential to understand the scores before we can dive into how the calculation works. The scores are divided according to the three components of the GRE exam. The division is as follows:
- Verbal Reasoning – 130-170
- Quantitative Reasoning – 130-170
- Analytical Writing – 0-6
While Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores increase by a point one increment, the Analytical Writing score increases by a half point increment.
GRE Scoring Scheme
The GRE score is divided into two components. The division is based on how the GRE is calculated. The first method is measuring scores on a scale from 130-170, 130 being the lowest and 170 being the highest. The second method is calculating the score into percentile to see how you rank as compared to the other candidates.
The GRE exam is a competitive exam and is designed to handpick the best from the lot. Hence, the percentile calculation is preferred as it lets you know where you how well you have fared as compared to fellow candidates and where you stand amongst the overall ranking.
The percentile rank denotes the number of candidates who have scored less than you. For example, if you have a 80th percentile rank, it means you have scored better than 80 percent of the candidates who have appeared for the GRE examination.
The highest total score or a GRE full score is 340, whereas the lowest total score is 260. If you score a 170 in either verbal reasoning or quantitative reasoning, your percentile rank would be 99. A score between 320- 340 would count as an excellent score as your rank would lie between 90-99. Therefore, your rank would be amongst the top ten percentile. A good score would be any score above 300 or 300 itself, this would rank you anywhere between 80-90 percentile. An average score would be a 150 in each section (Verbal reasoning and Quantitative reasoning), and your percentile rank would range from 50 to 55.
We have so far discussed the first two sections of the GRE sections and their scoring pattern, we now move onto the third section, the Analytical Writing Assessment. The scoring pattern for the Analytical writing assessment is slightly different. The scaling score is from one to six with the score increasing by half a point increment. If you score a 6, your percentile rank is around 99, and similarly if you score a 4, your percentile rank is around 50. The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections are easier to score in as they are objective-based questions. The Analytical Writing Assessment, on the other hand, proves to be difficult to score in, as it is highly subjective and individualised. Are you then wondering, what might count as a good score? We will explore that in the next section.
Good Score: A myth or reality?
You must be wondering, what is a good GRE score? A good score purely depends on the criterion set by the Universities you plan to apply for. These criteria differ from each University and from individual graduate programmes within the Universities as well. Thus, it is important to make note and do a thorough research of the criteria before you begin your preparation for the exam. Preparing for any kind of examination takes a toll on your mental and physical health, hence it is advisable to keep a realistic goal or target score in mind and move towards this goal with the help of practice tests. If you follow through with your goals and target score persistently, a good score becomes an achievable reality.
Validity of scores
Once you receive your GRE scores, the validity of these scores last for five years from the date of your examination. If you are not satisfied with your scores, you also have the option of retaking the GRE. Although, that might prove to be an expensive affair. Hence, it is recommended that you perform well in the first attempt itself.
Lastly, most candidates aim for an excellent or an above average score, which can prove to be very stressful. A way to beat the stress is to set personal goals and targets and adhere to them while tracking your progress on a daily basis. Thus, it is imperative to have all the right information before you begin the preparation process. As we have reached the end of this article, you have all the information necessary at your fingertips. In the beginning, we mentioned how the GRE scoring scheme might intimidate you along the way, but when broken down into fragments of information like we just did, it is not as complex as you might think!
- Is it possible to achieve my GRE target score?
Yes, you can achieve your target GRE score as long as you make a good study plan and stick to it diligently.
- What is the maximum possible GRE score?
The maximum possible GRE score is 340.
- Which sections contribute to the composite GRE score?
While the GRE score out of 340 is calculated from your scores in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, the Analytical Writing Assessment section is equally important and you should not neglect it.