How high enough do you have to score in your GRE test to make it a high one? What is a high GRE score? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward. A high GRE score is that which takes you out of the competition and sets you ahead of the crowd for admission into your preferred Grad school. And no, it doesn’t have to be a straight 340, which would mean you are snagging up a record 170 points in both the quantitative and verbal reasoning aspects.
Although it certainly wouldn’t hurt your admission if you did. However, your admission is not entirely based on your GRE scores, so you might want to consider using that extra time on other ways of making your application more compelling. For example, on a research project, you can make it.
If 340 was the stars, how high would your scores have to shoot to give you a more than competitive edge? Generally speaking, a high GRE score is considered to be anything in the 75th percentile and above. A percentile is a parameter for measuring how many people you performed better than in a test. If your score is in the 80 percentile, for example, it means you scored better than 80 out of every hundred test-takers. This will mean a score of about 155+ in the verbal reasoning aspect and 160+ in the quantitative part.
The Table Below Shows the GRE Score Percentiles From 2013- 2016:
Greater than 90%
162 – 170
166 – 170
80 – 90%
158 – 161
162 – 165
70 – 80%
156 – 157
156 – 157
60 – 70%
153 – 155
156 – 157
50 – 60%
151 – 152
153 – 155
A notable observation on this table is that the percentiles for Verbal and Quantitative do not have the same scores. This is because, on average, people perform better on quantitative than verbal reasoning. How do you then determine what test results will qualify as high enough for your admission process? Here are a few tips;
1.What is Your Program Level?
The first thing to consider is; are you trying to get into a Master’s Program or a PhD program. Generally, applying for a PhD program will require a much higher GRE score than a master’s program, and the reasons behind this are quite intuitive; there are fewer PhD slots compared to masters, and the competition is a lot stronger. Thus, if you are applying for a PhD program, you will have to hit higher scores to set you ahead of the competition.
2.How Competitive is Your Program?
Competition always means you have to score higher to stand out. Engineering and physical science programs tend to have a higher average GRE score requirements and, as such, will require you to perform better as compared to other programs, e.g., Education programs. Also, if you are applying for top-class grad schools like Harvard, having a significantly higher score (right up to the 90th percentile and higher) may prove to be a significant boost to your application. Some schools also set GRE cut-off scores, which imply if your scores don’t meet this benchmark, your application automatically goes into the bin. Doing thorough background research on your prospective grad school and their admissions procedures and requirements (most of which should be available on their website) will enable you to discover just how high enough you have to score to stand out from the pack.
3.How Does Your Grad Program See the GRE?
While the GRE is still an essential requirement for the admission process of many grad-schools, different schools and programs consider your GRE scores differently. Some programs place a critical priority on them, while others see your GRE scores as just a supportive piece of your overall application process. Also, graduate programs in the humanities may place a higher priority on your score on the verbal aspect of the GRE than the quantitative reasoning. The reverse might be the case if you were applying for a program like Engineering.
If this is the case for your Program, you can choose to focus your efforts on the aspect you know your Grad school places emphasis on. Note, however, that this approach is not a one-size-fits-all, there are grad schools who may decide to consider your performance on both aspects of the GRE tests with equality. The way out is to determine the average percentile or scores of the school and set your target score above it.
4.Other Educational Assets
As previously mentioned, your GRE score is not the only determining factor of whether your application will be successful or not. Other criteria such as your Grade point assessment, your research project, professional experience, and even letters of recommendation also play significant roles. Now how does your GRE score come into this? The logic is quite simple; the less intellectual assets you have to substantiate your admission, the higher you might have to score to make a difference. Whereas with considerable strength on other aspects of your application process, you might be able to afford a less GRE score because the effect of your intellectual assets may end up buffering your GRE score.
Ultimately a high GRE score is that which gets you admitted for your preferred Program at your preferred grad school, and as such, it may vary from one grad program to the other. Doing your research on your prospective grad school, setting a target score that is above the average GRE scores of your school, and creating a consistent study schedule are some of the ways to hit a score that sets you apart from the crowd.
And if you are scared you’ll not be able to score on a very high percentile, you shouldn’t be. Some people have pulled an astonishing 340 on the GRE tests. It would help if you also contemplated taking more test GRE practice tests, get a tutor, and work on other aspects of your application. A 320 on the GRE backed with strong letters of recommendation and proven professional experience might be high enough to secure your admission than a GRE score of 325 without any other academic substantiation.