GRE Score Percentiles: What does it mean?

A percentile also called a centile, is a statistical measure that indicates the values that fall below a certain number. It helps one to understand where a score stands relative to other students’ scores. For example, if an examinee’s score is in the 90th percentile, it means that 90% of examinees fall below this score. The higher the percentile, the better the performance in comparison to other candidates. It is usually used to make admission decisions on test scores, including the LSAT, SAT, and GRE.

Does the GRE score percentile matter?

Yes, the GRE score percentile matters because this helps the admissions committee compare the applicant to other test takers. This will help them come up with a decision on whether to accept an applicant or not.

How is the GRE scored?

The GRE is composed of three sections, namely: Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning scores increase in one-point increments, whereas the Analytical Writing scores increase in half-point increments.

The cumulative GRE score is a combination of both Quant and Verbal. The verbal score range is from 130-170 scale (in 1-point increments). The quantitative score also ranges between 130 and 170 (in 1-point increments). On the other hand, analytical writing has a different score range of 0–6 (in 0.5-point increments). Prior to August 2011, the scale ranged from 200 to 800 in 10-point increment.

How are the GRE percentile scores calculated?

By grouping an examinee’s score with other test takers’ scores, the GRE percentile is calculated. This determines the level of comparison among them during the given period. The obtained value then divides the data into the higher scorers and lower scorers.

Read More: How is the GRE Score calculated?

How is the GRE verbal reasoning score calculated?

The candidate gets a raw verbal score, which is the number of questions they answered correctly in the verbal section. The raw score is then calculated into a scaled score by the process of equating. Equating ensures that differences in various test editions and levels of difficulty do not affect the candidate’s score.

How is the GRE Quantitative Reasoning score calculated?

The GRE quantitative score is calculated in the same way as the verbal score. The raw score is based on the correct answers and equated to a scaled version. Through the equating process, the candidate’s score will not be affected by the differences in test editions and difficulty levels.

How is the GRE analytical writing score calculated?

There are two writing tasks in analytical writing—the "Issue" and the "Argument" writing tasks. A trained reader reviews each essay and rates the writing based on its overall quality. The reader emphasizes critical thinking and analytical writing skills more than grammar and mechanics. Each analytical writing essay is scored using a six-point scale by a trained human rater. Aside from the human rater, an e-rater engine scores it based on ETS's computerized program for assessing analytical writing skills.

Is there a GRE percentile calculator?

Yes, there are GRE percentile calculators online, but there is no official calculator from ETS, the maker of the GRE. These calculators, available online, produce only an approximate estimate of an examinee’s percentile.

What is a good percentile on the GRE?

It varies. A good percentile on the GRE varies depending on factors like the university and program chosen. Actually, not all universities look at an applicant’s percentile. Some may set a specific cut-off score or a percentile, while others may not mind what score is obtained.

What is a good GRE score?

318 and above is a good GRE score.

Read more: Good GRE score

What is a Competitive GRE Score?

A good and competitive GRE score is one that will qualify you for admission to your desired graduate programs. A score of 159 in Verbal Reasoning or 163 in Quantitative Reasoning would place you in the 80th percentile, respectively. This places you in the top 20% of GRE test takers and is comparable to scoring above 1800 on the SAT. This is the commonly accepted cutoff score for a competitive GRE score. Remember that competitive programs look for competitive applicants.

What is the average GRE percentile?

Around the 44th percentile score or a verbal score of 150 and 43rd percentile or a quantitative score of 152 are the average GRE percentile ranks. A 3.5 is the average score for Analytical Writing.

What is a Low or Bad GRE Score?

A low GRE score is defined as one that is in the 25th percentile or below. This corresponds to a verbal percentile of 145 on the GRE, and a quantitative percentile of 147 on the GRE. What constitutes a poor GRE score is subjective, but could most easily be defined as a score significantly lower than the median for the graduate school programs to which you are applying.

What GRE score percentile should I aim for?

A score at or above the median score should be the target score to increase the chances of getting accepted at graduate schools. The median score is the average score that separates the low and high scores.

How do I know what GRE score percentile to aim for?

Preparing for the GRE sure requires a lot of work, time, and effort. That is why it is important to get a good score on the first try, so all of these things won’t go to waste. Listed below are some ways to determine what GRE score percentile one should aim for:

  1. Ask the prospective university what their cut-off score is. Some universities even post their score requirements on their official websites.
  2. Some universities not only set a general cut-off score but also a specific score for every program. It is also safe to just ask the university what its requirements are.
  3. It is safe to say that if your score is higher than the 50th percentile, you should aim for it. This will put an examinee in the top half of the distribution. Even if some cases allow scores in the bottom half, it could still be risky as it may not impress the admissions committee.

Some students may go above and beyond what is required. This can be a good thing because it will surely open more doors of opportunity. Whether there is a score requirement or none, it is best to get a good score to impress the committee.

What percentile is my GRE score?

Since the GRE score percentiles are anchored on the scores obtained by test takers from the last three years, they are modified every year. Presented in the table below are the score percentiles from ETS:

GRE Score Percentiles for 2020 - 2021
Score Verbal Percentile Quantitative Percentile
170 99 96
169 99 94
168 98 91
167 98 89
166 97 86
165 96 84
164 94 81
163 92 79
162 90 76
161 88 74
160 85 70
159 82 67
158 79 64
157 75 61
156 72 57
155 67 54
154 63 50
153 59 46
152 53 43
151 49 39
150 44 35
149 39 32
148 35 28
147 31 25
146 28 21
145 25 18
144 22 15
143 19 13
142 16 11
141 14 9
140 12 7
139 10 6
138 8 4
137 7 3
136 5 2
135 4 2
134 3 1
133 2 1
132 2 1
131 1 -
GRE Analytical Writing Score Percentiles 2020-2021
6.0 99
5.5 98
5.0 91
4.5 80
4.0 54
3.5 37
3.0 13
2.5 5
2.0 1
1.5 0
1.0 0
0.5 0
0.0 0

The verbal, quantitative, and analytical scores are converted to percentile scores above. These scores tell the graduate schools and universities what the worth and meaning of scaled scores are. It may also be observed from the tables that the verbal and quantitative scores do not have the same percentiles. This is because the percentile is based on a normal score distribution which means most test-takers score towards the middle of the scoring scale. Some test takers may do well on verbal only but not on quantitative, and vice versa.

Where are the GRE percentile ranks based?

The GRE's score percentile ranks are based on the scores of the test takers from the last three years of testing.

Do GRE percentiles change?

Yes, the GRE percentiles change. Percentile ranks change over time because they are based on the population of examinees who took the exam within a specified three-year period.

What is more important in the GRE: a scaled score or a percentile rank?

The percentile rank is more important than the scaled score in the GRE. Again, it compares an examinee’s performance relative to other GRE examinees.

Can you get into grad school with a low GRE?

Yes, applicants with low GRE scores can still get into grad schools provided that they compensate for the low scores by submitting the other minimum admission requirements. Such requirements include a minimum grade point average, letters of recommendation, essays, and a resume. A good GRE score, however, will support your application since it helps the admissions officer reach a decision on whether you’re a competitive applicant or not compared to other test takers.

Read More: GRE Scores for Grad School

Percentiles of GRE Scores in Various Fields

Given that the GRE is used to assess prospective graduate students across all disciplines, it's unsurprising that percentile rankings for subgroups of students pursuing different disciplines is so disparate.

While ETS does not publish an explicit GRE score report of percentile ranking by discipline, they do publish data on the GRE score distribution by field of study—for example, what percentage of people entering that field scored in a particular score range. This allows for the calculation of percentiles at specific points.

What is a good GRE score for graduate school?

A score in the 90th percentile or higher on both the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections and a score of 5 to 6 in the analytical writing section is good GRE scores for top graduate schools. These scores will make you stand out from the pool of applicants. Set goal scores that will put you beyond the average because some applicants even get perfect scores. So, the better the scores are, the more competitive you will be.

Read More: GRE Scores for Grad School

What are the good and bad GRE scores for medical schools?

No, there are no general good or bad GRE scores for medicine programs since medical schools do not typically require applicants to take the GRE. However, some universities do accept GRE scores and advise the scores that they would accept.

What is a good GRE score for MPH?

A score of 300 on the GRE is the usual score requirement of most public health programs. The top public health schools often have average test scores in the 75th percentile or higher.

What is the required GRE score for the medicine program at the University of Southern California?

A combined score of no less than 295 is the expected GRE score of the applicants for the physician assistant (PA) program at the University of Southern California.

Read more: GRE Scores for Medical School

What GRE score do I need for psychology schools?

153 for the verbal section and 146 for the quantitative section are the mean GRE scores of freshmen students in psychology Master’s programs. For the psychology PhD programs, a score of 158 on the verbal and 149 on the quantitative.

What GRE score is needed for PhD programs in Psychology?

A score of 158 in the verbal section and 149 in the quantitative section are the average GRE scores needed for PhD programs in Psychology.

Read more: GRE Scores for Psychology Schools

What GRE score is needed for business schools?

An overall GRE score of 310 to 315 is a good GRE score for business school applicants. This score usually places a candidate at least 10% above the average. A score of 325, on the other hand, is an excellent score for admission to business school.

What GRE scores do I need for my MBA?

An overall score of 310 to 315 is a good GRE score to enter MBA schools. This means that a test taker must obtain a score in the high 150s to mid-160s to get a chance to be a successful applicant in the top 10 MBA programs. On the other hand, a score of mid-to-high 150s on the verbal reasoning and quantitative sections is needed for the top 50 leading business schools.

Read more: GRE Scores for Business Schools

What is a competitive GRE score for CRNA school?

A score of 300 or higher in the verbal and quantitative section and a score of 3.5 to 4.0 in the analytical writing section are the competitive GRE scores for application to CRNA school. Some schools may require scores a bit lower than this, but it is advised to score higher than the minimum to be a competitive candidate.

Read more: GRE Scores for CRNA Schools

What is a competitive GRE score for the SLP program?

Scores of 153 or higher in the verbal reasoning section and 144 or higher in the quantitative reasoning section are considered competitive GRE scores for the Speech-Language Pathology program.

Read more: GRE Scores for SLP Schools

What is a good GRE score for PA school?

A score in the 50th percentile rank is a good GRE score for the Physician Assistant (PA) program. In fact, one does not need a really high GRE score to get into a top PA program. An applicant will almost certainly be accepted to the majority of PA schools if the total GRE score obtained is above 300 without a verbal reasoning score of below 155.

Read more: GRE Scores for PA Schools

What is a Good GRE Score for PT Programs?

155+ is a good GRE score for both verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning. 4.0+ is a good application score for GRE analytical writing. Although applications have minimum score requirements, scores in the late 140’s or around the 50th percentile are acceptable. Competitive scores are advantageous for a successful application.

Read more: GRE Scores for PT Schools

What is a good GRE score for vet school?

A GRE score of 156 for verbal reasoning and 154 for quantitative reasoning is considered a good GRE score. As a rule of thumb, vet school applicants should aim for 2-3 points higher than the average GRE scores to be competitive for admission.

Read more: GRE Scores for Vet Schools

What should my GRE score be to be admitted to law school?

A GRE score in the 85th percentile or above is the criteria set by the ABA for a law school applicant to be admitted to law school.

What is the average GRE score at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School?

328 is the average GRE score of admitted applicants at the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more: GRE Scores for Law Schools

What GRE score do you need for engineering program admission?

161-166 in Quantitative is the GRE score a candidate must have for better chances of admission to the best engineering programs.

Read more: GRE Scores for Engineering Schools

What’s a Good GRE Score for MIT?

155-170 are considered good GRE scores for admission at MIT. For a more competitive application, candidates should aim for the 85th percentile score in verbal and above the 85th percentile in the quantitative section.

Read more: GRE Scores for MIT

What is a good GRE score for Columbia University?

A score of 154 to 167 for verbal and 156 to 170 is the average GRE score of admitted applicants at Columbia University. Although most graduate programs would prefer verbal and quantitative scores in the 160s, or in the top 5 to 20% of test-takers. These are the estimated scores needed to be a student at Columbia.

What is the average GRE score for Computer Science at Columbia University?

A score of 169 or 99th percentile rank in the quantitative section is the average GRE score for the MS in CS program at Columbia University. There is no data available for the other test sections. For the PhD in Computer Science, however, scores of 159 for verbal, 166 for quantitative, and 4.3 for analytical writing are the average scores of admitted applicants.

What is the average GRE score for the Data Science program at Columbia University?

A score of 157 in the verbal section, 166 in the quantitative section, and 3.8 in the analytical writing section is the average GRE score for the Data Science program at Columbia University.

Read More: GRE Scores for Columbia University

What are the average GRE scores for Stanford master’s programs?

A GRE Verbal score that ranges from 157 to 168, a quantitative score of 163 to 168, and an analytical writing score of 4.0 to 5.5 are the average GRE scores for Stanford master’s programs.

What are the good scores for the GRE at Stanford university’s economics program?

A score of 156 in the verbal reasoning section, 161 for the quantitative reasoning section, and 5 for the analytical writing section are the good GRE scores for the economics program at Stanford University.

Read more: GRE Scores for Stanford University

What is a good GRE score to successfully apply to Harvard?

The required GRE score depends on the type of program the student will apply to, but for over 50% of the programs offered at different schools within Harvard, the average GRE score requirements are in the upper 80th percentile. That’s about 162 in Quant, 158 in Verbal, and 4.5 in Analytical Writing.

What are the average scores for the GRE at Harvard University’s Ed.M. program?

A score in the 80th percentile for the verbal reasoning section, 60th percentile for the quantitative reasoning section, and 4.6 for the analytical writing section are the average GRE scores of the incoming class from 2017 to 2017 at Harvard University’s Ed.M. program.

Read more: GRE Scores for Harvard University

What’s a good GRE score for scholarship programs?

GRE scores that are above the 80th-85th percentile are good for scholarship programs including merit-based scholarships. This score is for the field of study relevant or close to the prospective graduate program. For other disciplines, score at least on the 70th-75th percentile.

Read more: GRE Scholarships