What is a Good GRE Score & How is it Calculated?

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Applying to foreign grad schools? With lakhs of scholars taking the GRE per annum it’s the foremost widely-accepted and competitive graduate admissions test across the planet inspect what an honest GRE score is and the way it’s calculated to work out your target score and obtain into a number one university.
If you’re getting to pursue graduate studies abroad, you’re probably wondering what a “good” GRE score is. While there’s no definite answer to the question, GRE test takers may often find themselves during a quandary while sending scores to grad schools.

A “good” GRE score is predicated on variety of things including average GRE score of the previous batch, parts of GRE that are comparatively more important, and so on. In other words, a “good” GRE score will depend entirely on you.

With questions evaluating one’s readiness to transition to a grad school , the GRE is that the most widely-used and accepted admission test for graduate programs across fields all round the globe. From the structure of the GRE to how GRE scores are calculated, here may be a guide for you to possess a transparent understanding of GRE scores.


What is the GRE?

The GRE is an internationally-recognised admissions test for graduate and professional school including business or law. The GRE General Test is attempted on a computer conducted at over 1,000 test centres in more than 160 countries. Not only graduate school but also business school applicants from across the globe take the GRE to pursue a master’s, MBA, specialised master’s in business, J.D or doctoral degree. 

The test is accepted at thousands of universities by admissions panels to add to your undergraduate records, letter(s) of recommendation along with other qualifications.  

Structure of the GRE

Before we talk about what a “good” GRE score is, check out the GRE test structure to have a better idea of what the test aims to measure:

PartNumber of QuestionsTotal Duration
Verbal Reasoning (Two Sections)20 questions per section30 minutes per section
Analytical Writing (One section with two separately-timed tasks)One "Analyze an Argument" task and "Analyze an Issue" task30 minutes per task
Quantitative Reasoning (Two sections)20 questions per section35 minutes per section
Unscored- An unidentified section that does not count towards final scoreVariesVaries
Research- An identified section that does not count towards final scoreVariesVaries

What is a Good GRE Score?

There is no simple answer to this question and certainly no “definite” answer. What could be a “good” GRE score for you might not be a “good” score for another test-taker. The ideal way to determine a “good” GRE score is to identify your target score depending on the program of your choice, the average GRE scores at universities you are applying to as well as section-wise GRE cutoff scores. Here are the factors you have to consider while trying to find out what a “good” GRE score is:

Determine your Target GRE Score:

A target GRE score, as mentioned above, is the score that you need to be accepted to a grad school of your choice. While you are at it, check out the university’s GRE cutoff for the specific program of study along with their average GRE scores over the past few years. 

Some admissions panels may care more about your verbal reasoning score than the rest of the GRE parts. On the other hand, some universities depending on the program you are applying for, may want to look only at your quantitative reasoning score. So, it is significant that you have a clear understanding of the requirements of the specific program and university.

Check the Average GRE Score:

Based on data collected between July 2016 and July 2019, the average GRE score of Verbal Reasoning in 150.37, Analytical Reasoning is 3.58 and Quantitative Reasoning is 153.39. The average total GRE score would, therefore, be 303. 

The data also point out that the average score for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning account for 47% and 48% respectively. This means that 53% and 52% respectively of the test takers obtained the same score or performed better than you. 

If you are in the 45th percentile, it might get you into a lot of Grad schools abroad but it will not be considered a good score for the highly competitive graduate programs. Usually, being in the 75yh percentile is a good enough GRE score. However, a 90th percentile will help you stand out and make it easier for you to get into the top foreign universities.

Figure out if GRE Scores are Used for Something Else As Well:

International students often look for scholarships when applying for graduate programs. Many universities offer scholarships based on GRE scores and many applicants often regret not learning about it before deciding on their target GRE score. Also, GRE scores may also be used for course placement.

Given below is a table that will help you understand within which score range your “good” GRE score may fall:

Best GRE ScoresBetter GRE ScoresGood GRE ScoresBelow Average GRE Scores
Quantitative Reasoning165-170159-164153-158152 or lower
Verbal Reasoning163-170158-162152-158151 or lower
Analytical Writing5.0- or lower

How to Calculate a Good GRE Score?

Here are the step-by-step guide on how to calculate a “good” GRE score:

Figure Out the Average GRE Score at the Intended University:

To do so, there are two factors you need to remember. These include researching the average GRE score of last year’s department batch and last year’s class profile. These will give you an idea of the score you want to target. 

Assess Competition and Acceptance Rate:

This means you need to determine the level of competition you will be at while applying to the university of your choice. For instance, in case you are applying for a popular program like MS in Data Science, you should obtain a slightly higher score than the GRE average at the institution.  Likewise, the acceptance rate of the university will also matter because those with a higher acceptance rate will amount to lower competition.

Settle on Your Good GRE Score:

Now that you have an idea of the average score and level of competition, finding your target/good GRE score is one simple calculation away. To make it easier for you, here is an example:

SectionSupposed Average Score
Verbal Reasoning 149.97
Quantitative Reasoning152.57
Analytical Writing3.58

Here, to get into the institution and stand out, you would have to score 160 in each section and be among the top applicants. So, that is what YOUR “good” GRE score would be. 

Average GRE Scores

Here are the GRE General Test and GRE Subject Tests average scores based on the performance of graduates who took the GRE between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2019:

GRE General Test Average Scores for Intended Graduate Major Fields:

Graduate MajorQuantitative ReasoningVerbal ReasoningAnalytical Writing
Humanities & Arts1501564.1
Social & Behavioural Sciences1511513.0
Physical Sciences1601513.5
Life Sciences1511513.8

GRE Subject Test Average Scores:

Subject TestAverage
Literature in English542

How is the GRE Scored?

It could be a little tricky to understand GRE scores for both General Test and Subject Tests. Read on to find out what GRE scores mean for each section and how they are calculated:

Understanding GRE General Test Scores:

SectionScore Range
Verbal Reasoning130-170, in one-point increments
Quantitative Reasoning130-170, in one-point increments
Analytical Writing0-6, in half-point increments

Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning:

The reported scores for these two measures are based on the number of correct answers to the given questions under the operational sections. Measures here are section-level adaptive which means that the computer picks the second operational section of a measure on the basis of your performance on the first section. All questions in each section will contribute to the final score. 

For every section in the two measures, a raw score is generated which refers to the number of correct answers you have. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score through equating- small variations in difficulty among different test editions and differences in difficulty by section-level adaptation. 

Eventually, a scaled score for each measure reflects the same level of performance irrespective of which second section was picked and when the test was attempted.

Analytical Writing:

Here, each essay is scored by at least one trained rater on a six-point scale for which raters assign scores on the basis of the quality of the essay in response to the task. An average of the final scores of both the essays is then calculated and rounded to the nearest half-point interval on the six-point scale (0-6).

The primary emphasis while scoring this measure is on critical thinking and analytical writing skills instead of grammar and mechanics. 

Understanding GRE Subject Test Scores:

The total score range of each GRE subject test is 200-900 in 10-point increments. For the subject tests of Biology, Psychology and Physics, subscores are reported on a 20-90 score, in one-point increments. However, the score range for any particular subject test is generally smaller.

What is the GRE Percentile Ranking?

GRE Percentile ranking is the percentage of test takers who scored lower than a specified score. The higher your percentile rank, the better your GRE score as compared to other test takers. 

For Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning:

ScoreVerbal ReasoningQuantitative Reasoning

For Analytical Writing

ScoreAnalytical Writing

Note: The tables are based on the performance of graduates who took the GRE between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2019.

Learn more about the GRE:

GRE EligibilityHow to Prepare for GRE
GRE CutoffGRE Test Dates
GRE Test CentresGRE Syllabus
GRE Best BooksGRE Practice Papers
GRE ScholarshipsGRE Exam Acceptance
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