Posted on
07
Jun 2022

How Does the GRE Scoring Work?

You’ve booked to take your GRE or you have already taken it, you have quite the number of questions that you would like to get the answer to. More specifically, you’re probably concerned about how GRE scoring works. 

If that is the case, then this article is just the one for you.

We will touch bases on the following topics: 

-The GRE Exam
-The GRE Scores
-The GRE Score Calculation
-The GRE Percentiles
-Top MBA Universities and their Average GRE Scores

1. What is the GRE

The GRE, also known as  the Graduate Record Examination, is a standardized test created and is still administered by the Educational Testing Service (the ETS). Just like any exam needed for graduate school admissions, the GRE is there to test and assess the level of readiness, academically and intellectually, for grad school.

Along with undergraduate transcripts, recommendation letters, and other requirements, the admissions will be able to estimate whether or not you will be capable of doing well in the program you applied to. Your GRE score is used as a common tool to compare your application to the other applicants’ applying as well. 

Some of the GRE test takers are worldwide applicants that are looking to pursue a master’s in business, MBA JD, or doctoral degree. Your GRE test score is required in thousands of schools. Schools like

    • Business Schools
    • Law Schools
    • Institutions and fellowship sponsors. 

The GRE takes exactly three hours and 45 minutes to finalize. These three hours and 45 minutes are divided between 3 main sections. Between these different sections, you are given a 10-minute break. The different sections in your exam will appear in the following order:

Section Number of Questions Time Needed
Analytical Writing  “Analyze an Issue” task, and “Analyze an Argument” task. 30 Minutes/task
Verbal Reasoning 20 questions per section  30 minutes/section
Quantitative Reasoning  20 questions per section 35 minutes/section

2. GRE Score

The GRE total score ranges between a minimum of 260, a maximum of 340, and a midpoint score of  150. Let’s break it down even further. Each of these three different sections has a certain minimum and maximum score, which is as follows: 

Section  Score Scale
Verbal Section 130-170, 1-point increments*
Quantitative Section 130- 170, 1 point increments
Analytical Writing  0-6, in half-point increments**

* In one-point increments: This means that there are 41 possible scores. In other words, you are receiving one point for each question you get right in both the Verbal or Quant sections. These points will be added up to get your raw score (0-40) for each section.

** In half-point increments: Suppose you got a 4/6 on the Issues essay and a 5/9 on your Argument essay. This then means that your total GRE Analytical Writing score would be 4.5.

After 10-15 days from your test date, your GRE test scores should be available. These same test scores will still be reportable after five years following your test date. You have the choice to pick which test scores you want to send out to your desired institution(s). For that, you have two options:

    • On Test Day: You can either send your Most Recent GRE score or All your GRE scores. (For four FREE GRE score reports
    • After Test Day: In that case, you have three choices you can pick from 
      • Most Recent GRE score
      • All GRE Scores
      • Any GRE Score. (For a FEE of US$27 per score recipient)

3. GRE Score Calculation 

Now that the basics are covered, it’s time to look into the different sections of the GRE and their grading system. 

    • GRE Verbal and Quant Score System: The more questions you get right, the higher your raw score is. You will not be penalized for the questions you got wrong. This raw score you ended up getting will, later on, be converted into a scale score. This means that GRE uses equating. What is meant by this term is that the GRE ensures that the different versions of the exam and their difficulty level do not affect your score. The process of equating makes sure that your score isn’t lower than that of previous GRE test takers.
    • Analytical Writing Score System: Upon the quality of your writing, a trained reader and an e-rater (which is defined by ETS as a “computerized program developed by ETS that is capable of identifying essay features related to writing proficiency”) will be able to score your essays. You will have to focus on bettering your critical thinking and analytical writing skills to ensure a higher score in your AW Section.

In other words, your Total GRE Score is not the summation of all the scores you got on its three sections. Each section in the exam is scored separately.

4. GRE Percentile

The percentile is there to give you an overview of how well you’ve done. Through your percentile, you will be able to see the percentage of test-takers that scored lower or higher than you. The higher your total GRE score is, the higher your percentile is, which means the more impressive your score is. In the GRE however, there are different percentile ranks. Unlike the GMAT, the GRE is ranked upon its sections, and not its overall score. The percentiles are distributed on its three sections. 

For example, if your scaled score was that of a 152, then that means that you’re ranked at a 54 percentile on your verbal section and a 45 percentile on your quant section. In other words, this shows that your verbal section score was 54% higher than the other test-takers, and your quant section score was 45% higher than the other test-takers. 

Here is a list of officially published GRE Percentiles 2022:  

Scaled Score  Verbal Reasoning Percentile Ranks Quantitative Reasoning Percentile Ranks 
170 99 96
165 96 84
160 85 70
155 67 54
150 44 35
149 39 35

Here is a list of officially published GRE Percentiles 2018: 

Score Analytical Writing Percentile Ranking
6.0 99
5.0 93
4.0 60
3.0 18
2.0 2

5. Top MBA Universities and their average GRE Scores

The following table includes a list of Top MBA universities and the average GRE scores of their applicants. Get a glimpse of how the GRE scores range from one university to the other.

Business School  Verbal Score Quant Score Writing Score
Yale SOM 165 164 4.7
Stanford GSB 165 164 4.9
Harvard  164 164 NA
UCLA (Anderson) 164 164 4.5
UC-Berkeley (Haas)  164 161 5.0
NYU (Stern)  162 161 4.4

To Conclude

To ensure a groundbreaking GRE score, take your prep journey one day at a time. Make time to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, and prepare the perfect study schedule tailored just for your needs. Once everything is set and ready, your prep journey starts with confidence and hard work and ends with victory and rejoice.  

ApexGMAT offers private one-on-one GRE tutoring with one of the top instructors. Reach out and book your complimentary 30 minutes assessment session, now!

Contributor: Lilas Al-Sammak

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