What is a Good GRE Score?

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What is a Good GRE Score?

The GRE is a prerequisite for Graduate school admissions. While it is not the only requirement for grad school, it is quite necessary as schools use the exam to cut down the number of applicants significantly. Therefore you need to get a good score. However, it is not easy to firmly state that a particular score is good enough and will guarantee you a space in grad school as what constitutes a good score can vary from different schools and programmes.

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To explain better, it is necessary to break down what the GRE scoring points are. The GRE is divided into three sections:

Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

Analytical writing

They are marked over 340The range for the Verbal and Quantitative reasoning sections is from 130-170 points with one point increment while the Analytical Writing section (which is sometimes overlooked by Graduate schools) is from 0 to 6 points with a half-point increment. Now, as stated earlier, the composite score for the GRE is over 340 (a combination of the highest range for the Verbal and Quantitative section as the Analytical Writing section is scored separately), the average score point for the Quantitative section is 153 points. In contrast, that of the Verbal reasoning section is 150 points, and the Analytical Writing section averages 3.6 out of an available 6. One can say then, that getting the average scores on each section and a total points of 303 on your GRE is good enough, although this might not be the case as the chances are that the average score is not good enough for your preferred school or programme of study.

Asides from focusing on average scores, percentile ranking is also important. Percentiles calculate how you fare against other GRE takers in a particular section. If you have a 35% percentile in Verbal or Quantitative reasoning, it means you did better than 35% of the test-takers in that section. Now a 50% percentile is average, but it is always better to have a higher percentile as this will put you considerably ahead against the competition.

Thus, the question What is a good GRE score? Is a tricky one and is determined by some factors, which are:

A) The cutoff mark for the Grad school

Some schools have a required GRE cutoff mark for their applicants. Hence if you do not meet this mark, your application will be rejected immediately regardless of how seemingly good enough it is. It is a way for these schools to weed out low- level candidates. Note, this cutoff mark ranges from school to school depending on the standard of the school. A top 10% school might demand an average score of 315 with an 80% score in both Verbal and Quantitative while a mid-school can put theirs at 310 points.

B) The chosen program of study

The GRE score is judged per section and not as a composite depending on the chosen programme of study. For example, a person applying for an engineering programme will be deemed more by the Quantitative section than the Verbal section. Hence the applicant might have 164 points in the Quantitative reasoning section with 154 points in the Verbal reasoning section making it a total of 314 points and will be considered for the chosen programme. In contrast, the humanities or social sciences programme will be more concerned about the applicant’s score in the Verbal reasoning section. Based on this, your chosen programme of study is a significant determinant of whether your score is good enough for admission.

C) Your Percentile ranking

As noted earlier, percentile ranking refers to how well you fare compared to other candidates. Individual schools’ admissions offices are more concerned about your percentile than your GRE score. Generally, the average percentile ranking is 50%, meaning you outperformed half the number of exam takers and it is considered a good starting point. For more of an edge, however, it is advisable to have 75% to 80% percentile on all three sections as this puts you in the top 25% and 20% of candidates respectively.

For a more concrete idea of what is a good GRE score, let’s look at the average GRE score for major fields as compiled by the ETS (Educational Testing Service)

Intended Graduate major

Verbal Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning

Analytical Writing

Life Sciences




Physical sciences








Arts and Humanities












Now, this is just the average score, and the grad school you are applying for might require more points than stated above. This will give you an idea of what to aim for, and you adjust it according to the school requirements.


From those mentioned above, it is fair to say that the answers to the question of what is a good GRE scoreIs nuanced and subjective. Simply put, a good score depends a lot on the school you are applying to as well as the programme you are using for. You do not need to aim for the highest possible score points, and you need to research the score requirements of the University and programme you will be applying for, the information posted above is a good starting point. It can be supplemented with further research on school websites and other articles.

When you have a clear idea of what the requirements are, you can then work with that score point in mind. Of course, aiming for a higher-end than is required will give you an edge over other applicants and will help boost your application. Also how you’re head to head with other applicants, that is, your percentile rating is a determinant of how good your scores are.

A precise idea of what a good GRE score is will be the 75% percentile in each section with this being 161 or more on the Quantitative team and around 157 in the Verbal section. We hope you got your answer.

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Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.