What are Good GRE Scores for Grad School?

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What are Good GRE Scores for Grad School?

The GRE is a standardized exam written by admission to Graduate and Masters’s Degree programmes. The exams are not the only pre-requisite for admission but are used by Universities to streamline the applicants and select candidates that will meet the standards of the school.

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As mentioned earlier, while the GRE is not the only requirement for admission, it boosts admission chances, and therefore the exam takers must have a good score on the test.

The General GRE test has three sections, and they are:

  • Verbal Reasoning

  • Quantitative Reasoning

  • Analytical Writing

The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections are scored from 130-170 with 1 point increment with their total coming in at 340 while the Analytical Writing Section, which is scored separately, has a scoring rate of 0-6 with a 0.5 increment.

It is normal to wonder then what are good GRE scores for grad school?

A good score for grad school is a score that gets you into grad school. It isn’t easy to generalize on what good GRE scores for grad school areas they are relative and can be determined by:

  • The Standards of the University Applied To

Some Universities have strict rules on the GRE test scores they accept from applicants. If the applicant scores do not meet the cutoff mark, it is not good enough for the graduate school while other Universities will get those scores which makes the score suitable for their graduate school

  • The Graduate Programme Applied To

The programme applied also determines how good the score is. It should be noted that several Graduate schools do not look at the sections of the General GRE test as a whole, focusing on the section that will be most suitable for the programme applied to by the applicant. Hence, an individual who is applying for a graduate programme in Physics will be judged more on their Quantitative section scores. In contrast, the Verbal section might be skimmed over with the opposite rule applicable to a person applying in an Arts or Social Science programme.

However, while these determinants exist, it is not to say there are no average scores that are expected for specific programmes in grad school. The table below, from the ETS recent 2020 Guide to the Use of Scores Report, will show some of these average scores.

Social Sciences

Intended Graduate Major

  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

 Social sciences (overall)

153

151

3.9

Anthropology and Archaeology

155

149

4.0

Economics

154

160

3.8

Political Science

157

152

4.2

Psychology

152

149

3.9

Sociology

153

149

3.9

Other

152

149

3.8

Arts & Humanities

  • Intended Graduate Major
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Arts and Humanities (OVERALL)

156

150

4.1

Arts-History, theory and Criticism

157

151

4.1

Arts-Performance and Studio

153

151

3.7

English Language and Literature

157

149

4.2

Foreign Languages and Literature

156

151

4.0

History

156

149

4.1

Philosophy

159

154

4.3

Other

157

152

4.1

Business

  • Intended Graduate Major
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Business (OVERALL)

151

154

3.6

Accounting

149

153

3.4

Banking and Finance

151

161

3.4

Business Administration & Management

151

152

3.7

Other

149

154

3.5

Education

  • Intended Graduate Major
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Education (OVERALL)

151

148

3.8

Administration

151

148

3.7

Curriculum & Instruction

151

149

3.8

Early Childhood

147

146

3.4

Elementary

149

147

3.7

Evaluation & Research

151

148

3.8

Higher

152

149

4.0

Secondary

154

151

4.0

Special

148

145

3.5

Student Counseling & Personnel Service

149

146

3.6

Other

152

151

3.8

Other Fields

  • Intended Graduate Major
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning
  • Analytical Writing

Architecture and Environment Design

150

155

3.5

Communications & Journalism

151

150

3.7

Family and Consumer Services

149

148

3.7

Library and Archival Sciences

157

149

4.0

Public Administration

153

150

3.8

Religion & Theology

158

151

4.2

Social Work

148

144

3.6

It should be recorded that while these are the average scores for programmes in graduate school, it is advisable to aim higher than the average score as this will increase the chances of admission. Applicants should aim for a 90% percentile or at least 75% percentile and be in the top 10% or 25% of applicants who wrote the exam.

Another detail to keep in mind is that while these average scores are generally accepted, it can differ from grad school to grad school. Depending on the requirements of grad school, the average score might not be acceptable.

For this, the difference in the score accepted by some grad schools offering the same programme will be shared. Engineering, Economics and English language and Literature will be the programmes to be highlighted.

Engineering

Engineering programmes are more about the Quantitative reasoning section and mostly judge applicants with that section. Note, however, that this does not mean they disregard the Verbal section entirely.

For the top 10% Engineering programmes in the US, the least average score for the Quantitative section is 164 with MIT’s being 166. California Institute of Technology, on the other hand, requires candidates to have an average score of 168, meaning they want students with a 98% percentile in the Quantitative section. Some graduate Engineering programmes in schools like Oregon State University and Wichita State University, on the other hand, accept an average score of 159 and 154 in the Quantitative respectively.

Economics

This social science programme generally has an average score of 154 and 160 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections, respectively, for graduate school admission. This can differ institutions; however, as the top 10% of schools demand applicants to have a score of 163-167 for Verbal and 166-170 for the Quantitative section. Schools that are ranked lower accept 157-161 scores for Verbal and 160-164 scores for Quantitative sections.

English Language and Literature

For this programme, the average score for 157 and 149 for Verbal and Quantitative, respectively. However, the 10% of schools only accept scores from 166-170 for Verbal and 155-159 for Quantitative. Schools that are ranked lower accept 160-164 for Verbal and 149-153 for Quantitative.

In all, this shows that good scores for grad school are relative to the grad school one is applying for and the programme applied for.

Conclusion

The question of what are good GRE scores for grad school cannot be given a definite answer as it entirely depends on the programme and the grad school. The scores on the table in the article will provide you with an idea of what constitutes good GRE scores. To be more specific, you should contact the school admission department to know their requirements for sure. Also bear in mind that the GRE test is not the only determinant for admission into grad schools.

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