The GRE score is perhaps the most confusing part of your score report. Is there an answer to the question “What is a good GRE score?” question should come with a disclaimer? Do you want a good GRE score for a Ph.D.? Medieval History program or for an EMBA at your state university?
Do you have poor university grades but ten years of professional experience or are you a student with an average grade of 4.0? The real question is “What is a good GRE score for me?” – And the simple answer is: A good score is the one that impresses the programs you’re applying to.
But how good does your score have to be to do that? Most of my students complete the GRE to get into MBA programs. Assuming you are one of those students, you are probably reading this article for the following reasons:
- You want to know what GRE scores you are aiming for as part of your MBA application.
- You are wondering whether to take the GMAT or the GRE.
- You are curious about how well a particular GRE score compares to the average
In this article, we clear all of that and explain how to find out what a good GRE Writing score is for you, and the percentiles for the GRE Writing as a whole, as well as average and cut-off scores for graduate programs and how to do them all, can use this information to select a target score for the GRE writing.
How do you find out what a good GRE Writing score is?
A good GRE Writing score is one that gets you into the program you want to get into. For the most part, graduate schools don’t even really care that applicants have a high GRE score for analytical writing.
It’s more about applicants avoiding dropping out because their GRE Writing score is significantly lower than the average applicant for their program.
What is a good GRE score?
A good GRE score is subjective and depends on which school you apply to. We recommend reviewing the average GRE scores for the best graduate school programs to find out what area you need to score in each section (verbal, quantitative, writing) before determining what makes a good GRE score is for you.
For starters, however, here’s what you need to know about your GRE score. The GRE is scored on a scale of 130 to 170 in the verbal and quantitative sections.
The writing section is graded on a scale of 0-6 in half-point increments. But you don’t just get points; you also receive a percentage rank that evaluates your performance compared to a large sample of other GRE participants.
Because there are so few possible total scores—only 41—that you can achieve on the GRE, answering one more question correctly could be enough to turn an average score into an excellent one.
What makes a good GRE score?
Your GRE score isn’t just one score, it’s three. Schools can see your quant score, verbal score, and analytical writing score. You could have a good Quant score and a bad Verbal score or vice versa – even on the same test.
By the way, you cannot send just your quant score or just your verbal score to a school. You must send all scores from a given GRE together.
You can submit scores from multiple GREs, but schools generally don’t pick their highest sections — they look at each test as a whole.
Your GRE Quant score is a number between 130 and 170. About 4% of test-takers achieve a perfect Quant score. On the other hand, very low quant scores are rare: only about 8% of test-takers score in the lower quartile of the range (140 or below).
A perfect GRE verbal score is much rarer than a perfect GRE quant score. The verbal scale also ranges from 130 to 170, but only 1% of test-takers score 169 or 170, and only 3% score 166 or higher.
Almost all of us will score between 135 and 165 on Verbal.
Finally, your writing score is a number between 0.0 and 6.0. Very high and very low GRE scores when writing is uncommon. A 4.0, 4.5, or 5.0 are a good GRE writing score, and a 5.5 or 6.0 is exceptionally good.
Even a slightly lower score can’t seriously affect your application, as long as you can demonstrate your writing skills in some other way.
How common is a good GRE score?
The ETS provides data on how common or rare each GRE score is. This can give you a general sense of what counts as a good score.
So 166 is certainly a good GRE Quant score: only one in ten test takers have a score that high. For comparison, in 2017, one in ten people in the United States earned more than $108,000.
Only one in 100 test takers scores a 169+ on Verbal, which is as rare as a person in the US making $300,000 a year.
The ETS does not publish data on combined or overall GRE scores. However, schools that publish their average GRE scores usually publish the quant and verbal scores separately so you can compare them to your own scores.
Need a good GRE score for top MBA programs?
A 166 on GRE Quant is a score of one out of ten, while a 160 is one out of four. These are both good GRE scores because they compare well to the scores most people get.
But to get into a great MBA program, do you have to be one of ten, or is one of four enough?
As the GRE has become increasingly popular among MBA applicants, a number of top programs have begun posting their average scores online.
On average, successful applicants for top 10 MBA programs both have GRE scores in the high 150s to mid-160s. For most top 50 schools, a good GRE score is in the mid to high 150s in both sections.
Based on this data, an overall GRE score of 310-315 is a good GRE score for MBA applicants, while a score of 325 is excellent.
What is a good GRE score for ETS?
To start, let’s understand the rating system. The GRE consists of 3 scores: the verbal reasoning score, the quantitative reasoning score, and the analytical writing score.
- Verbal – 130 to 170 (in 1 point increments)
- Quantitative – 130 to 170 (in 1 point increments)
- AWA – 0 to 6 (in 0.5 point increments)
So you can get 41 possible scores for verbal or quantitative results: 130, 131, 132, 0.169 and 170
AWA scores are 0, 0.5, 1…5.5, 6
The AWA Score
A score of 4 or 4.5 is great. While anything above 4.5 doesn’t help much, scores below 3.5 (i.e. 3 or lower) pose a problem. 3.5 is a passable score and will not cause a problem unless the verbal score is too low.
In and of itself, the AWA score says nothing. Although a good AWA score cannot support a poor GRE score, an extremely poor AWA score (less than 3) negatively impacts even the best GRE scores.
Regardless of which program you pursue, admissions committees attach the least importance to analytical writing outcomes. Don’t focus on it or ignore it completely.
Definitely don’t leave it blank. Improving your AWA score beyond 4.5 is an absolute waste of time.
Now for the part, you’ve been waiting for: what’s a good GRE score?
GRE Sectional Scores
Score Verbal %ile Quantitative %ile
150 48 38
155 69 59
160 86 76
165 96 89
170 99 97
According to ETS, the average quantitative score of GRE test-takers worldwide is about 153, and the average verbal score of GRE test-takers worldwide is about 151. That’s a composite score of 304.
With a composite score of 304, you clearly stay in the top half of the test takers.
Well here’s what you need to know. Most top programs require the 75th percentile for each section. You need about 160 for the quantitative measure and 157 for the verbal measure.
That’s a composite score of 317. In fact, Q 160 and V 155 are good enough to open most doors. That’s a cumulative 315.
What are GRE scores for excellent verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning?
Here is a list of the different factors that affect the calculation of your Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning GRE scores based on your ability to answer:
- Number of questions you answer
- Response speed
- Difficulty of answering
- Verbal reasoning questions test your ability to understand and respond to passages
- Quantitative test questions are based on math problems and statistics
- Both sections have a score between 130-170
What is a GRE Score for Excellent Analytical Writing?
The analytical writing section tasks are delivered on a computer and the essays must be typed. For the problem task, the test participant receives a topic pool from which he can select one and analyze the problem.
A word processing program designed by ETS is used for the analytical writing area, which only allows essential functions such as insert, copies and paste, delete, etc., but does not contain a spell checker.
Tasks in the Analytical Writing section require focused responses designed to measure the examinee’s ability; Have a logical and transparent discussion, support complicated ideas with relevant reasons and examples, good communication skills, and articulate complex ideas.
The Writing Tasks section is graded on a scale of 0-6 in half-point increments. Two readers rate each essay. If the two scores are within one point, the scores are averaged.
If the grades differ by one point, a third editor checks the essay. Tasks are graded on a six-point holistic scale.
Results within this range are considered excellent results. It shows that the test-takers essay is well-focused and organized, and validates insightful, in-depth analysis of complex ideas.
It also indicates superior skill at sentence structure, and the usage of language develops and supports the logically coherent and highly persuasive examples of the main point.
Show lightness by using sentence variety and accurate vocabulary to convey meaning effectively, but the essay contains minor errors that do not detract from the purpose.
This is an excellent score. An essay graded in this area provides a generally thoughtful analysis of complex ideas supports and upholds main points with logical reasons, and well-chosen examples skillfully demonstrate an adequate command of sentence structures and usage.
The essay is also generally focused and well organized, but may have minor errors that do not detract from the meaning. With a score like that, the admissions officers will be impressed.
With such a score, the test-taker need not worry; that’s a good score. This essay is appropriately organized, coherent, and not vague; it offers an appropriate analysis of the ideas.
It shows a satisfactory command of sentence structure and use of language but may have some flaws that affect clarity. The ETS website describes this score as fair and sufficient.
This score is OK, but you should be concerned. The faults considered in this essay are poor organization, poor control of sentence structure and eloquence, vagueness, and errors that impair clarity. However, the essay shows a certain competence in analytical writing,
This is an average score, not good at all. The essay written here is seriously flawed in one or more ways, including poor organization, errors resulting in fuzziness or lack of clarity, lack of analysis or development, serious and recurring problems in sentence structure or usage.
This essay shows a strong weakness in analytical writing.
This score is very low. The contents of the essay are very confusing or mostly irrelevant for the tasks. There are major, common, and passive errors that cause the essay to be incoherent – essays within this grading range exhibit fundamental flaws in analytical writing.
This shows that the test-takers analytical writing ability cannot be assessed because the essays do not deal with tasks in a foreign language or are illegible.
The examinee did not write anything at all.
A good value is between 6.0 and 3.5. It is important to note that a high analytical writing score will not help you gain admission to a top graduate school, but a below-average score may deter you.
It suggests at least one major flaw in your analytical writing skills, and that’s a red flag.
How long is my GRE score valid?
Students who show up for computer-based tests will receive their GRE scores within 15 days of taking the exam. While students who tend to write the written exam take about six weeks to receive the grades mail.
GRE scores are valid for approximately five years; That is, if a student attempts the GRE exam on August 1, 2022, he/she can use those grades until July 31, 2027, to gain admission to his/her desired college.
This period of validity of the GRE score gives students the freedom to change to the University of their Choice in about five years. It also gives them the required time to come back for the exam if they are not satisfied with their overall GRE exam scores.
Because ETS believes that students must be granted a five-year validity period for their GRE scores, not all universities agree to the same validity period.
Some of the universities accept grades from GRE within a 2-3 year time frame, so when choosing your university you need to be sure about the validity of the university score, the acceptance date, and the supplements.
What do you need to know about sending GRE scores?
After your exam, GRE assessment forms are available to you online. A copy of your evaluation forms will also be sent to your registered address.
Students will receive their GRE score sheets 15 days after taking the exam. To reflect your overall GRE scores, scales are printed on the score sheets for your convenience.
ETS generates two different types of scorecards, viz. H. one is the test-takers scorecard (GRE scorecard), the other is the Graduation Institute’s scorecard (current GRE test scorecard).
Both are your official GRE score reports, with a slight difference between the two.
Test Taker Scorecard:
This is a GRE scorecard with your full GRE record.
What does it contain?
- Identity information (name, contact, gender, desired subject)
- Latest GRE score (Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing, along with the percentiles for each of them)
- History of Test Scores: Dates, scores and percentages of previous GRE assessments
- Results of all attempted GRE tests
- List of scores, dates and schools to which you may have submitted your scores
Graduation Institution Score Report:
This is a personalized scorecard with all the relevant information you would choose during the test.
What does it contain?
- Identity information (name, contact, gender, desired subject)
- Latest GRE score (Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing along with the percentiles for each of them)
- In this scorecard you have the same information as in the test-taker’s scorecard. The difference, however, is that only the GRE test scores that you have chosen to submit to multiple universities are published here.
For example, if you do not wish to disclose the grades of your previous GRE results, select only the LAST test option and the generated scorecard will only contain information about the last GRE test you appeared on.
How do I submit my GRE scores to universities?
Students can submit their GRE results using ScoreSelect, a service provided by ETS, to quickly reach desired colleges. However, students can use the same service to send the GRE overall grades wisely.
- Select the information you want to submit to universities using ScoreSelect.
- This allows GRE aspirants to send their grades to four universities free of charge.
- Select colleges will receive your results 10-15 days after your exam.
The free submission of ScoreSelect to universities can be preceded in two ways, viz. H. You can choose to send the GRE score to the university on the TEST DAY or AFTER THE TEST DAY.
ScoreSelect options you will receive on test day:
- DO NOT send results
- Send ALL results for the last 5 years
- Send only the MOST CURRENT score
ScoreSelect options you will receive after the test day:
- Send ALL results for the last 5 years
- Submit all results for the last 5 years
- Submit LATEST score
If you choose one of these score submission options, students can rest assured that the selected universities will be notified.
However, it is recommended that you choose wisely and submit your score to universities that offer your desired courses.
How much does it cost to send GRE scores to universities?
If you want to send GRE results to more than 4 universities, you can do it through ETS services. After that, however, you will have to pay your GRE score reporting fee.
The cost of sending GRE scores is $27 for each institution you wish to apply to.
How can I send GRE scores for free?
Research how many points you can expect and which universities will accept your range of marks. Set the top four universities and submit your GRE score for free via ScoreSelect.
Which is better: a good GRE score or a good GMAT score?
There are several ways to compare a GRE score to a GMAT score. For example, you could look at the percentile that corresponds to your GRE score and find the GMAT score that corresponds to the same percentile.
A 153 on GRE Quant is a 50th percentile score; a 50th percentile score on GMAT Quant is accordingly 44.
However, that would give you the wrong impression of your results. Compare percentiles to everyone taking a particular test.
That’s fine if you’re taking the GMAT since most people who take the GMAT are MBA candidates. But MBA applicants are only a minority of GRE test takers. Comparing your own score to everyone else’s is like comparing apples to oranges.
First, the stats can’t tell you if you would do well on the GRE or GMAT. In a large population, some people will do better on the GMAT and others will do better on the GRE.
If you are stronger on the GMAT, your “GMAT advantage” will more than offset any “GRE advantage” on applications.
Determination of your personal GRE Writing Score goal
It is possible to get a rough idea of what GRE Writing score you should be aiming for by simply looking at the selection of schools above – humanities and social sciences want higher scores than engineering/other STEM subjects and Ph.D. students require higher Scores as masters degrees.
But when it comes to setting learning goals, aiming for a specific score is always better than estimating it.
And the best way to figure out what a good GRE Writing score is for you is to base it on scores from schools and programs you’re considering applying to.
A step-by-step guide to knowing what a good GRE score is for you
#1: Search for “[School or Program Name] Average GRE Writing Score” or “[School Name or Program Name] Required GRE Writing Score”
You may need to check the program website or unofficial message boards if these searches do not return promising results. You can also call the school’s admissions office at any time if you are particularly concerned about this.
#2: If the school does not have information about the average GRE Writing score, the best way to estimate the average GRE Writing score is to look up the school’s percentiles for other GRE scores and then compare those percentiles to those Percentile lists for GRE Writing.
For example, if the average GRE Verbal score is in the 85th percentile, you would expect the GRE-AWA score to be somewhere around that too (which is about 4.5).
However, you should treat this estimate with a little more leniency than a listed score, as GRE Writing scores often carry little weight in graduate admissions decisions.
#3a: For schools with the minimum required GRE Writing scores: List all scores for all programs you are applying to. The highest minimum score should be your cut-off.
#3b: For schools that provide information on average GRE Writing scores: Calculate the average of AWA scores for all programs you are applying to.
#4: Average of the results from steps 3a and 3b. If the GRE Writing threshold (from 3a.) is higher than this average, this should be your target; Otherwise, use the average of the cutoff score and the average GRE writing scores as your personal target writing score.
Even a perfect writing score of 6.0 probably doesn’t make up for low verbal or quantitative reasoning scores; If you do well on the rest of the GRE, you’ll probably do well enough in writing, but getting the average GRE score in school writing won’t really improve your chances.
Most graduate schools don’t pay much attention to GRE Writing scores when reviewing your application, and a 4.5 and above is fine for most programs, even at top schools.
As long as your analytical writing results don’t stray far from the rest of your application, you should be fine.
Many factors influence your application to graduate school or business school, and each of them contributes to whether you are admitted or rejected. Your GRE score is only part of your candidacy.
Your undergraduate GPA, letters of recommendation, research, and personal essays all contribute to your acceptance into your dream school.