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What is a good GRE Score & The 3 pillars of analysing the score?

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardised test organised by the Education Training System (ETS). Many international universities require GRE test scores as a criterion for admission into their various programs. Moreover, the test aims to measure the candidate’s knowledge of Analytical, Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning. Therefore, many students who seek admission into different master’s program from international universities appear for this exam each year. Although GRE scores are not the only factors that decide your admission, a good score will boost your chances of getting admission.

What is a good GRE score?

Well, there is no hard and fast rule as a good GRE score. A good GRE score is driven by factors such as the program or the institution targeting many students. GRE score is reported in two different components, i.e., the scaled score and the percentile rank. Further, the GRE test comprises scores in 3 different sections. It includes Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. While some universities invite applicants based on their percentile ranks, others give weightage to specific sectional scores. 

But on a more superficial note, ranking among the top 10% with a scaled score ranging between 320 to 340 is excellent. However, for most programs ranking in the top 75 percentile is considered ideal and competitive enough. 

Today we will discuss all the factors that you should keep in mind to find out if your GRE score is good enough to get you into the school of your dream.

preparation for good GRE score

GRE 3 pillars of analysing the score

The 3 sections in the GRE General Test are crucial in calculating your overall GRE scaled score. The following sections, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning, form the 3 pillars of a strong base of a good GRE score. Therefore, it would be best to strengthen your preparation in each section to improve the overall performance. Furthermore, the GRE General Test is a computerised test that follows the adaptive difficulty setting for the verbal and quantitative sections. It means that your account in the first section will set the difficulty bar for the next section. Thus, failure in any one pillar can result in the collapse of the entire structure. In conclusion, prepare all the 3 sections skilfully. Most importantly, all the attempted questions in the exam will contribute to your final score.

Analytical Writing 

The Analytical section is the very first section of your GRE General Test. This section consists of two tasks. First, candidates are required to analyse and interpret an argument and an issue. Second, to answer both the questions, you need to write an essay within the given time duration. A computerised system first evaluates the essay, and then a human rater will rate the same answers. After that, the final score is calculated by taking the average of the two.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal section includes questions to test your knowledge of reading comprehension, critical reasoning, and vocabulary. There are 2 sections under the verbal head, which consists of 20 questions each. The duration for each section is 30 minutes. The sections include questions based on text completion, sentence parity, and critical reading. 

Quantitative Reasoning

The GRE General Test’s quantitative section will test the candidate’s mathematical and reasoning skills. This section covers elementary mathematics concepts with questions based on quantitative comparisons, problem-solving, and data interpretation. Meanwhile, the Quantitative section also includes 20 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. Above all, there are 2 sections under the quantitative head.

Experimental or Unidentified Section

This is the surprising component of the GRE General Test. The Experimental or Unidentified section is the additional section that is not graded and is only added to the exam for research (or experiment) purposes. This section in the exam can be either the Quantitative or the Verbal Reasoning section. To clarify, this section is in addition to the default section, which is graded for your final score. However, it is next to impossible to identify the experimental section. It is thus advised to attempt all the questions in the exam to obtain the maximum score.

It is to be noted that any correct or incorrect answer in the experimental section will not affect your final GRE score. Therefore, Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning all together form the 3 pillars that will analyse your GRE score.

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GRE total score

The GRE score range for the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections is 130 to 170 on a scale of one point. For example, getting a perfect score (170 in each section) in each of the Quantitative and Verbal sections will fetch you a GRE total score of 340. Similarly, the lowest possible GRE total score is 260 (130 in each section). For the Analytical Writing section, the score range is 0 to 6 with a half-point increment. Moreover, the Analytical Writing section score is not included in your final GRE score and is evaluated separately. 

GRE Scores Range

For reference, these are the score ranges for different sections of the GRE General Test.

  • Verbal Reasoning: 130 to 170, in 1 point increments
  • Quantitative Reasoning: 130 to 170, in 1 point increments
  • Analytical Writing: 0 to 6, in half-point increments

 The following table will help you understand the different GRE score ranges. However, keep in mind that the information below is taken from previous data, and its interpretation might vary for different individuals and institutions.

Scores Score Range Perfect Score Competitive Score Average Score Below Average Score
Verbal 130 to 170 170 157+ 151 145
Quantitative 130 to 170 170 161+ 154 147
Total 260 to 340 340
Analytical Writing 0.0 to 6.0 6.0 4.5+ 4.0 3.5


good GRE score

Perfect Score

Getting a perfect score of 340 (170 in each section) and 6.0 in Analytical Writing will attract applications from most of the premium colleges in the world. That is to say, you have aced the exam and need to focus on your applications and essays to clear the admission process.

Excellent Scores

To rank among the top 10% of the test takers, you should target the following GRE scores in the respective sections.

  • Verbal: 163 to 170
  • Quantitative: 165 to 170
  • Analytical Writing: 5.0 to 6.0

These GRE score ranges are considered very strong and will boost your chances of admission.

Competitive Scores

The following GRE scores will provide you with a competitive chance when applying for popular programs.

  • Verbal: 158 to 162
  • Quantitative: 159 to 164
  • Analytical Writing: 4.5

Above all, these scores will rank you among the top 25%

Average Scores

The following scores are considered decent enough to get admitted for selective graduate programs and courses.

  • Verbal: 152 to 158
  • Quantitative: 153 to 158
  • Analytical Writing: 4.0

Below Average Scores

The following GRE scores can still assist you in getting admitted for some of the less demanding programs.

  • Verbal: 151 or below
  • Quantitative: 152 or below
  • Analytical Writing: 3.5 or below

GRE score percentile

Your scaled GRE score presents how well you have performed in the test. However, your percentile score will display how you have performed when compared to other applicants. Therefore, your GRE percentile rank is more important than your actual score because this will decide whether you made it to the final admission list or not. Your percentile rank showcase where you stand when compared to other test-takers. For instance, an 80 percentile means that you have outperformed 80% of the total applicants.

For top programs, international universities give more weightage to students who have ranked in the top percentile. But, most importantly, a higher GRE score can land you a higher rank.

The following table compares the GRE score with their respective percentile score. The information below is an approximation based on previous reports.

GRE score Verbal Percentile  Quantitative Percentile Analytical Writing Score Analytical percentile
170 99 96 6.0 99
168 98 92 5.5 98
166 97 87 5.0 93
164 94 83 4.5 82
162 90 78 4.0 59
160 85 72 3.5 42

A percentile rank is very insightful since it will help you answer the actual question. i.e. What is a good GRE score. Usually, standing in the top 10% would mean that you have got excellent GRE scores. Moreover, a 75th percentile and above means that you have obtained good competitive scores. 

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prepare GRE examination


Your graduate school or business school application is affected by several criteria, each of which will influence whether you are accepted or rejected. Your undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, research, and essays will all play a significant role in your admission process. However, the GRE score is only one aspect of your application. Moreover, to get a good GRE score, you should prepare hard with sincerity for a month or two before the exam. Your hard work and dedication can lift you from being a 60 percentile to a 90 percentile prospect. In conclusion, a small effort could be the difference between being accepted into a programme and not.

GRE scores and result FAQs

Q. What is GRE score validity?
The GRE General Test score is valid for a total of 5 years from the date of administration. That is to say, for example, scores of the GRE test taken in June 2020 will be valid and accepted till June 2025.

Q. What are good GRE scores for my goals?
GRE scores are necessary for admission into postgraduate programs. However, here, it is recommended to choose the right program that aligns with your eventual goals. The GRE score for different programs is different. Some highly demanding programs require excellent GRE scores Likewise, other programs can accept students with even average scores. Further, it would be best to look into the information available regarding the program on their website for more clarity.

Q. How important are my GRE scores in terms of my entire application?
GRE scores are a measurable indicator of an applicant’s academic abilities. Moreover, GRE scores are required when applicants are applying for a masters program from an International University. The importance of GRE scores is inferred from the fact that many universities sometimes look into sectional scores specifically to evaluate the applicant based on a program. Therefore the GRE scores are critical since they convince the admissions committee of your capabilities of the subject. On the other hand, other application information like the essay questions, LOR, resume also plays a vital role during the selection process.

Q. What are the other Grad School Admission Factors?
Graduation schools look into a candidate’s undergraduate academic performance, GPA, resume, essay answers, letter of recommendation, IELTS, TOEFL scores for admission into postgraduate programs. However, these factors will differ for different universities and different programs.

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