Preparing to take the GRE can be a confusing process. With so many different aspects, the GRE has made a name for itself as a complex, yet necessary test. One of the parts many people find difficult to understand is how the GRE is scored and what the GRE score range is.
Understanding what GRE score range is possible and what you should aim for is a huge part in preparing to take the GRE test, especially if you are applying for a competitive program. This guide contains everything you need to know to help you understand the GRE better.
What Is the GRE?
GRE stands for Graduate Record Examination. The test examines students’ school records, knowledge, and skills learned throughout college. This examination helps students prove that they have what it takes to enroll in many graduate-level programs.
Graduate schools use the GRE as an educational testing service to help them sort through applications and determine the best candidates for their school. This test is most often computer-based and consists of three sections: the verbal reasoning section, quantitative reasoning section, and analytical writing section. Each of these sections is scored separately.
Range of GRE Scores
After taking the GRE, you will receive your test scores. Each section is scored separately to display your abilities in the individual areas rather than as a whole. You will also receive the broken-down scores to show how you performed in different subjects. These scores will all include an overall score for the three sections of the test, and these are the numbers you will use on graduate school applications.
The verbal reasoning section of the GRE is designed to test your abilities to understand written materials. This part of the test involves reading passages and answering questions about them as well as answering grammatical questions, such as completing incomplete sentences.
For this section of the test, your score will be based upon how many questions you answered correctly. The computer system tracks your answers to the questions and uses the number of correct answers to come up with a raw score, which is something along the lines of 6 out of 10. It then uses an equating process to convert the raw score into a scaled score, which will be within the range of 130 to 170.
The quantitative reasoning section of the GRE is focused on mathematics. This section consists of multiple choice questions and numeric entry questions, for which you fill in the numerical value. You will be tested on your skills in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis, and may have to answer questions that are purely mathematical or meant to be applied to real-life scenarios.
Just as the verbal reasoning section is scored, the quantitative reasoning section is scored based upon how many questions you answer correctly. A raw score is formed from the number of correct answers you input and is then converted to a scaled score. This score will also fall into the range of a 130 to a 170.
The analytical writing section of the GRE is broken up into two parts. One half requires you to analyze an opinion on a given issue and the other half requires you to argue a position on a given opinion. These writing assignments are designed to complement each other.
This section is scored a bit differently than the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections. Instead of being based upon the number of correct answers, you will be scored based upon the quality of the essays you write.
Each essay is first scored by a person trained to rate the essays. Then, it is scored a second time by a computer-based rating system. If the scores are close enough to each other, the average score of the two will be used as the final score. If not, another trained rater will review the essay and provide a third score, and the average of the two human-provided scores will be used as the final score.
What Is a Good GRE Score?
A good GRE score is really dependent upon what program you are trying to get into. Each school and program has different requirements, and the perfect score for one program may be way higher or lower than that of another school.
This is why it is important to determine what school and program you plan to apply to before taking the GRE so that you know what score you must achieve.
Average GRE Scores
For the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections, the average person scores around a 150 to a 152. In the analytical writing section, the average falls around a 3.5.
However, when you look at the scores of students in grad programs, these averages change.
If, for example, you are planning on enrolling in an MBA program, you should plan to score around a 164 on the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections, and around a 4.7 in the analytical writing section.
Or, if you are thinking of an engineering grad school program, you should shoot for a 150 to 160 in the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections and a 4 in analytical writing.
What GRE Score Do I Need?
After all is said and done, as long as you give the GRE your best shot you will have achieved the best score you possibly can. The higher your score the better, but don’t stress yourself out over the score you think you need to earn.
Instead, focus on preparing for the test and for your grad school program. Keep in mind that if at first you don’t succeed, you can try again. The GRE can be taken multiple times, so even if you aren’t happy with your first results, don’t give up.