Knowing what score to target is an essential part of your preparation for the GRE test. One of the most effective ways to determine this is by assessing what is the average GRE scores of the grad school you are applying to.
Before we delve further into discussing average GRE scores, let’s talk about how GRE tests are graded.
The GRE test is divided into three aspects; the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing aspects.
The range of scores for both the verbal and quantitative measures of the GRE Test is 130-170 in increments of one-points, while the range of scores for the analytical writing measure is 0-6 in half-points increments. This implies if by any means you have not answered at least one question within a standard, a ‘No score’ is reported for that measure. The combined minimum score you can have for both the quantitative and verbal aspects is 260 with a maximum score of 340 (which implies a perfect score of 170 in both sections)
Now, the overall average GRE scores for the verbal and quantitative aspects has been calculated to range between 150-152 while for analytical writing, it falls somewhere around 3.5. However, depending on your prospective grad schools, the program you are applying for, the average score to beat may swing a little too either end of these ranges.
Hence the best way to determine what is the average GRE scores for your prospective grad school is to look up the statistics for the programs you are applying to. You can also get in touch with current students of the institution or go to the school website and find a contact to email. Many grad schools are usually beneficial with information like this, and in some cases, they may even connect you with their current students with a similar background to yours.
To illustrate the relationship between the grad programs you are applying for and the average GRE scores, the table below shows the average GRE performance for the major graduate programs Between July 1, 2016, and June 30 2019.
Intended Graduate Major Field
Quantitative Reasoning (Average)
Humanities & Arts
With the table above, it is easy to see that the average GRE score in the quantitative section for physical and engineering programs is significantly higher as compared to other programs. This means if you are applying for a program like this, you’ll need to set a considerably higher target score for your quantitative section than your next-door neighbour who is probably seeking for admission into an Education program.
Verbal (Average score)
Quant (Average score)
In the same vein, top grad schools like MIT, Stanford and other Ivy League schools have a significantly higher average score due to their intense level of competitiveness. The table below shows their average GRE scores for these schools.
How to Use GRE Average to Hit Your Target Score:
Now that you’ve researched and gotten the average GRE scores for your preferred grad school and program, how do you then use this to prepare for your exam adequately? These are three steps to follow:
1. Identify Your Current GRE Performance
What would your GRE score be if you took the test today, right now? To know this, take a full-length GRE practise test which would be conducted under the same testing environment as the actual one. Many of these practise tests can be found online. Your results from this practice tests will help you determine your current performance and how to structure your study schedule.
2. Set Your Target Score
A good target score would be one that either sets you above the average score for your grad school program or which falls within a convenient range of the average score. In explaining this, let’s take a moment to explain the concept of percentiles rank in GRE. This is the percentage of test-takers in a group that obtained scores below a specified position on a particular test. For example, if you scored in the 70th percentile, it means you scored better than 70 out of every 100 test-taker. In terms of percentiles, scoring within the top 10% (90+ percentile) would be considered by most an excellent performance.
So, in setting your target score aim for a range beyond the average, that way if you hit your target goal, you’ll are already in a very comfortable position for admission. If peradventure you fall short of your target by a point or two, you’ll still be very much within the average score for your grad program.
3. Create a Study Schedule to Bridge the Difference:
Compare the GRE scores you had in your practise tests with your target GRE scores and then create a study plan to bridge this difference. You can take a GRE prep course, use an outline program or consider hiring a tutor if the difference is significantly high. A GRE tutor can help you streamline your study-scope and help you commit to a consistent study plan. Spend more time on the aspect where you’ve identified in your practices tests as weak points.
There are occasions where a particular part, for example, Quantitative reasoning might be given more consideration in some programs such as engineering. However, this is not a general practice, so you should endeavour to check with your preferred grad school to prevent basing your study-schedule on assumptions.
Although there are many factors (such as letters of recommendations, research and personal essays, etc.) that determine whether your application into a grad program will be accepted or rejected, it sure wouldn’t hurt to have a great GRE score. Your fantastic GRE scores maybe just one of those reasons you’ll cinch your admission.