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What is a Good GRE Score?

What is a Good GRE Score? If you’re taking the GRE, you undoubtedly want to know what a decent score is because that goes for every test. It depends, is the brief response. This article has the lengthy response.

We’ll discuss what a good GRE score is for you, what a good GRE score is for the overall GRE test-taking population, and how to set a goal score in this tutorial. In no time, you’ll be on your way to a successful score for you!

What is a Good GRE Score?

Given the wide range of program objectives, it is difficult to define what constitutes a “good” GRE score in absolute terms (more on that in the following section). However, you can consult the official GRE score percentiles to see how a given result compares to those of all other test takers. A percentile ranking reveals what proportion of test-takers you outperformed. If I scored in the 25th percentile, for instance, I outperformed only 25% of pupils.

The average GRE score, or the 50th percentile, is 150 on the verbal section and 152.6 on the quantitative section (152 is the 47th percentile score and 153 is the 51st percentile score). The typical mark for analytical writing is 3.5.

What is a Good GRE Score

For the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the test, the following is a broad breakdown of various score percentile benchmarks:

Score Percentiles for Verbal and Quant

Score Verbal Percentile Quant Percentile
130 <1 <1
135 3 2
140 12 8
145 27 20
150 48 38
155 69 59
160 86 76
165 96 89
170 99 97


From the above graphic, there are a few points to take note of. First, it should be noted that Quant scores frequently outperform Verbal scores. How do we know? because Quant percentiles are lower. With a score of 165, you have outperformed 96% of test-takers on the verbal section, but only 89% of test-takers on the quantitative section. Therefore, more participants (11% versus 4%) scored greater than 165 on Quant than Verbal.

Second, keep in mind that test-takers’ scores typically fall around the middle of the spectrum. You gain a 21-point percentile boost on each part with a five-point rise from 150 to 155! In contrast, moving up 5 points from 165 to 170 only results in a verbal or quantitative percentile rise of 3 or 8 places, respectively. Basically, if you start out closer to the middle of the scale than at the extremities, you get a little more point increases for your money.

A 25th percentile score (about a 144 on Verbal and a 146 on Quant) is considered a low result because it indicates that 75% of test-takers—the vast majority—scored higher than you. You performed about averagely with a 50th percentile score (about a 151 on Verbal and a 153 on Quantitative); you came in the middle of the pack. So, not terrible, but also not fantastic.

A score in the 75th percentile (about a 157 on Verbal and a 160 on Quant) indicates that you performed better than the majority of other test-takers. A 90th percentile score is good and will be competitive for most programs, but not necessarily all (around a 162 on Verbal and a 166 on Quant! See more below on that.

In this scenario, you are the winning goat if your score is in the 90th percentile.

Analytical Writing’s score distribution follows a similar general pattern, with the majority of percentile gains coming from the scale’s middle:

Analytical Writing Percentiles

Score Percentile
1.5 1
2.0 2
2.5 8
3.0 18
3.5 42
4.0 60
4.5 82
5.0 93
5.5 98
6.0 99


As you can see, the range between 3.0 and 4.5 has the largest percentile gains, whereas the extreme ends of the range have the smallest percentile changes.

So, even if it’s challenging to define a “good” result in absolute terms, you may get a sense of how your score compares to those of all other GRE test takers. There were more persons who scored higher than you the higher your percentile. What a high GRE score means to you personally and what it can achieve for you are more crucial, though.

GRE Score Ranges for Top Universities

Columbia University 155-165 153-169
Cornell University 160-164 156-165
Harvard University 155-165 157-169
MIT 158-165 157-170
New York University 154-162 150-170
Princeton 158-165 156-170
Stanford University 157-170 158-165
UC Berkeley 153-170 157-165
UCLA 153-166 155-164
University of Pennsylvania 154-165 150-169
University of Southern California 149-164 146-169
Yale University 155-165 157-169

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What Would Be Your Ideal GRE Score?

First and foremost, a good GRE score for you will be one that will allow you to enroll in the program or programs you want to, assuming you also complete the other requirements for admission.

The admissions committee frequently excludes the weakest applicants based on GRE results. Therefore, a low score could ruin your prospects, but if you lack a crucial quality the admissions committee is looking for (like research experience or good professorial references), even a score within or even over program standards won’t assist you much. A strong performance may compensate for a very slight flaw, such as a GPA that is somewhat below the program average, but it won’t cover any apparent weaknesses in your application.

A solid GRE score will help you keep smooth admissions sailing, but it won’t help you construct the boat, so to speak. As with any GRE advise, I’m sure there are exceptions to this. You must carry out that.

In addition, a high score can help you be considered for fellowships and scholarships, especially those that are university-wide and use GRE and GPA as the sole reliable indicators of applicants’ academic backgrounds.

What is a Good GRE Score

Choosing Your GRE Score: 5 Crucial Considerations

There is no set standard for what a good GRE score is for a specific sort of program or discipline because graduate programs varied so greatly from one another—significantly more so than undergraduate programs. The crucial factor is that a high GRE score will allow you to enroll in the schools you desire. Several variables, which I will go through in this article, will determine what a good GRE score is for you.

1. Program Level: PhD or Master’s

Successful PhD applicants typically have GRE scores that are higher than those of master’s applicants. This makes perfect sense because PhD programs often have a higher applicant quality and considerably fewer openings than master’s degrees. Therefore, in order to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need a better GRE score because PhD positions are subject to greater competition.

For instance, you can observe that most PhD programs have higher GRE average scores than the comparable master’s programs if you look at the average GRE scores for all graduate programs at Clemson, especially in the more important portion. For instance:

  • While PhD students had averages of 157 Verbal/161 Quant, MS bioengineering students had averages of 153.5 Verbal/158.5 Quant.
  • Forest Resource MS students had 145 Verbal/149.5 Quant averages, while PhD students had 153 Verbal and 154.5 Quant averages.
  • While PhD students in mathematical sciences had averages of 155 Verbal/158.5 Quant, MS students had 155 Verbal/164 Quant.

There are, of course, exceptions to this general pattern, but it is clear that, on average, and across a wide range of subjects, admitted PhD students had higher average GRE scores than admitted Masters candidates.

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2. Program Discipline

Expectations for a good GRE result will vary depending on the discipline, especially with regard to the various components. For instance, degrees like engineering, physics, and chemistry typically demand quite high quantitative scores, with average scores of 160+ for admitted applicants in even clearly mid-tier institutions. (A 160 is the 76th percentile of scores.) They have lower expectations for verbal results, in contrast.

The opposite is true for programs that emphasize the humanities, where applicants may have average Quant scores that are quite low but often have high Verbal expectations. As a result, a good score for a program in computer science won’t be the same as a good score for a program in art history, and vice versa.

Your scores in analytical writing are typically the least important to programs of all kinds. You’ll typically get the lowest return on investment with score gains in this area, so don’t just completely wing it with no preparation or leave it blank.

3. How seriously the program takes GRE results

Even within the same discipline, not all programs give the same weight to GRE results. Some people place a lot of importance on them, but others just consider them as a supporting or auxiliary component of the program.

But that doesn’t imply you should ignore the GRE and assume any score is acceptable just because a school doesn’t seem to overemphasize the value of the GRE or GRE scores on their website. They will use the results, if they request them, to evaluate candidates in some way. It might be the case that working on a portfolio or recommendation letters will yield a higher return on your time investment than studying for a two-point GRE score increase, or that a strong application overall will be more impressive than one that is weaker overall but has a GRE score that is five points higher.

Additionally, bear in mind that, despite the fact some schools claim they don’t have a GRE cutoff, you will still be judged against other applicants. Your academic preparation will be strongly called into question if your GRE result is significantly lower than the majority of candidates. Since many students mistakenly believe that the GRE is pretty simple, if your score doesn’t reflect this, they can question your intellectual readiness for a demanding graduate program.

4. Competition of Program

The more selective the school, regardless of how significant the admissions committee claims GRE scores to be (or not), the better your GRE score needs to be. A good GRE score will be substantially higher than a good GRE score at a mid-range or less selective school because top-ranked programs prefer students at the very top of the pack. For instance, a 160 (on the more pertinent component) may be exceptional for a master’s at your local public university, but it almost likely will be much below average for the #1 and #2-ranked schools in your field.

5. Your Complete Application

How strong is the remainder of your application is something else to think about. You may probably afford a somewhat lower GRE score than someone whose other qualifications are only passable if you have a ton of relevant research/work experience and extremely strong references from authorities in the field. But once more, it’s important to remember that if the rest of your application is weak or you don’t match the other requirements for admission, even a fantastic GRE score won’t actually help you be admitted.

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What is a Good GRE Score

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 300 on the GRE acceptable?

The point range on the GRE is 260 to 340. High GRE exam scores are necessary, though they may not be the only criterion, for admission to the best colleges abroad. A GRE score of 300 can get you into a respectable university. Universities typically give students with GRE scores of 310 or higher substantial consideration.

What GRE score is in the top 1%?

For both verbal and quantitative reasoning, separate GRE percentile values apply. For instance, in Quant, a score of 170% will be in the 97th percentile, indicating that only around 3% of test takers will achieve the perfect score. In contrast, a score of 169 and 170 would be in the 99th percentile, meaning it is among the top 1%.

What GRE score is needed for an MS in the USA?

In the USA, 310 is regarded as a respectable GRE score for MS. It usually suffices to get admission into the majority of engineering or computer science programs offered in the nation. What important is the program average, therefore if it is between 315 and 320, you should score higher than this to improve your chances of being admitted.

How much time should I devote to GRE prep?

Since the GRE is primarily a test of patterns rather than facts, you will need enough practice time if you want to improve your score. We advise you to dedicate 4 to 12 weeks to GRE study.

The Conclusion for a Good GRE Score

Many individuals refer to a “good” GRE score as if it were an unchangeable standard. Although the GRE percentile chart allows you to compare your GRE score to that of every other test-taker, the most significant aspect of your score is how well it positions you as a candidate for the schools you are interested in.

Here are some factors to think about while determining what a good GRE score is for you:

  • Master’s or PhD programs: Generally, PhD applicants have higher GRE scores than those for Master’s programs. Given how competitive PhDs are, this makes sense.
  • Program discipline: Expectations for scores will vary depending on the discipline, especially in terms of which area is valued more highly. For graduate programs in the humanities, verbal scores are more significant, whereas for programs in science and math, quant scores are more significant.
  • How much weight the program gives GRE results: Some programs will place a greater emphasis on GRE scores than others, even within the same discipline. Typically, the websites for admissions can give you an indication of this.
  • Competitiveness of the program: The higher your GRE score must be, the more competitive the program is!
  • The rest of your application: It’s critical to earn a high GRE score to demonstrate that you are prepared for graduate-level work if you are expecting that your GRE will make up for a deficit in your application (like a poor GPA).

In the end, you should decide on a target score before taking the GRE. Depending on whether the schools you are interested in publish GRE information, there are two ways to set a goal score:

If the program offers GRE details:

  • Source for Online resources for GRE.
  • Write it down in a table.
  • Choose the section with the highest score from your table, and then add 2 points. Your goal score is that.

If the program doesn’t offer GRE details:

  • A near-perfect or perfect score on the most important component is expected by the most highly ranked and selective programs in a specific discipline.
  • To determine a preliminary benchmark goal score, compare ETS data on discipline-specific student GRE score data with program selectivity/ranking information.
  • You can usually afford to have your goal score on the “weak” component be a bit under the preliminary benchmark, particularly if your score on the more crucial section is on the higher side. Take into consideration which section is more important.
  • Finally, see if you can receive advice on your GRE results from current and former students on websites. This will help you confirm and/or improve your first goal score.



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