How Is the GRE Scored?

May 22, 2024
4 min read
Contents

”Luke

Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/22/24

How is the GRE scored? Below we’ll break down everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide!

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the most widely used admissions test for graduate school. A vast majority of programs around the world require students to submit a GRE score to get a sense of their potential for success. The exam consists of five sections: Verbal Reasoning (two sections), Quantitative Reasoning (two sections), and Analytical Writing. 

In the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, they’re each divided into two subsections. Each subsection has both 12 and 15 questions. The Verbal Reasoning section must be completed in 41 minutes, whereas the Quantitative Reasoning section must be completed in 47 minutes. 

The Analytical Writing section, on the other hand, consists of one part with one separate task, requiring a time limit of 30 minutes.

If you are considering applying to a graduate-level program, achieving a good GRE score is crucial to give your application a competitive edge. To help you achieve this feat, we’ll answer the question, “how is the GRE graded?” so you can have a better idea of how to prepare effectively and achieve your academic goals.

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How Is the GRE Scored?

Both the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE are scored on a scale of 130 to 170, with a possible total score ranging from 260 to 340. 

Although your score for Analytical Writing is not included in the total score for the GRE General Test, it will still be included in your official score report, which will be sent to schools as a part of your application profile. 

The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 with a half-point increment, unlike the other two sections with a one-point increment. 

What Is Adaptive Testing and How Does It Affect Your Score?

Adaptive testing is an algorithm that customizes the questions you receive based on your progress during the exam. Specifically, in the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections, which consist of two parts each, the GRE is conducted on a computer, presenting questions to you one section at a time.

Here's how it works: You begin with the first section, and based on your performance in that section, the system determines the appropriate level of difficulty for the second section. 

This personalized approach is what makes adaptive testing so effective. It ensures that the exam tailors itself to your abilities, allowing you to showcase your skills accurately.

A Misconception About Adaptive Difficulty

Initially, the idea of performing “doing too well” in the first section may seem intimidating since it could lead to a more challenging second section. However, before intentionally lowering your score, it's important to understand that receiving a harder second section is actually more favorable than receiving an easier one.

If you encounter a difficult second section, it indicates that you performed admirably in the first section by answering numerous questions correctly. This achievement not only earns you valuable points but also significantly contributes to achieving a high score.

On the other hand, if you come across an easy second section, it implies that your performance in the first section may not have been as strong. Unfortunately, the points you lost cannot be recovered. 

Nevertheless, you still have an opportunity to compensate for this setback by performing well in the second section. It's crucial to remember that there is no such thing as "doing too well" in this situation!

How Are GRE Scores Calculated Per Section?

To calculate your GRE score, you must first obtain your score for each of the individual sections first. How do we do that? Let’s take a look! 

Verbal Reasoning

To get the score for this section, you take the total number of correct answers, the raw score, and convert it into a number between 130 to 170. 

The resulting scaled score will account for the differences in difficulties both across different test editions and caused by adaptive testing. This is done so the score reflects performance independent of test difficulty.

Quantitative Reasoning

Quantitative Reasoning is scored through the same mechanism: the raw score is taken by calculating the total number of correct responses and then converted into the final individual score by a scale.

Analytical Writing 

This section has two separately timed writing tasks, each of which is evaluated by at least one trained human rater who reviews the overall quality of your responses before rating it from 0 to 6. 

After this, the response is scored by the e-rater Scoring Engine, a computerized program that automatically identifies essay features and evaluates writing proficiency. If the two scores are close, the average of the two is calculated and taken as the final score. 

However, if there is a significant difference between them, another rater makes a new assessment. The final score is then determined from the average of the two examiners’ scores, rounded to the nearest half-point interval. Keep in mind that, unlike the previous two sections, Analytical Writing does not have adaptive testing. 

How Long Are GRE Scores Valid?

Your GRE scores are valid for five years from your test date. A valid GRE test score can be used for reporting to schools and institutions.

Are you thinking of taking the GRE? Use our Practice GRE Question Pop Quiz to help you prepare for the exam. This tool provides sample questions and detailed explanations to help you ace the test!

FAQs

Check out these frequently asked questions and answers.

1. How Is the Overall GRE Score Calculated?

The overall GRE score ranges from 260 to 340. It is calculated by adding up the individual scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. 

2. What Is a Good Score on the GRE?

Determining what qualifies as a good score on the GRE can be tricky. It largely depends on various factors, including the selectivity of the school you’re applying to. More competitive institutions generally expect higher scores. In essence, it is crucial to perform to the best of your ability in order to maximize your chances of admission.

To gain a better understanding of how your score compares to others, you can refer to the percentile rank for each section. This rank indicates how well you performed relative to other test takers within a specified time range.

For example, if your Verbal Reasoning percentile rank is 85%, it means that you performed as well as or better than 85% of test takers. Considering your percentile rank alongside your actual score can provide valuable insights when evaluating the strength of your GRE score.

So, compared to your score itself, your percentile may be much more helpful in deciding how good your GRE score is.

3. Is 300 a Good Score on the GRE?

A 300 is considered a good score but not an excellent one. If you’re applying to a high-ranking medical school or vet school program, for example, it may not provide the advantage you need to be considered a competitive applicant.

Final Thoughts

The GRE is an important standardized test that is widely used by graduate programs to assess the academic abilities of prospective students. Understanding the test format, seeking the help of an experienced tutor, and implementing key test-taking strategies can help you do well and increase your chances of admission.

So, ​​how is the GRE scored? Hopefully you know the answer by now! While the GRE may be challenging, with sufficient preparation and practice, getting the score you need to take the next step in advanced education is certainly within your reach!

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