What Is a Good GRE Score?

January 12, 2024
6 min read


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 12/4/23

Are you planning to take the GRE? If yes, read on to learn how the GRE is scored and the factors contributing to it!

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test used for admissions into graduate and business programs in the United States and worldwide. Knowing “what is a good GRE score” is essential to your graduate school application process.

Your GRE score can significantly impact your chances of getting admission into your desired programs. Also, your score can influence if you will be a beneficiary of the available scholarship opportunities.

This article will explore the concept of a good GRE score by checking the factors determining your overall score. Also, we will explore how your score determines whether you will be admitted into the program you are applying for.

Understanding the benchmarks of success in the GRE can help you set achievable goals and prepare accordingly. Whether you are a prospective graduate student who wants to understand the significance of your GRE score or you are an undergraduate planning to take the GRE, read on!

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What Is a Good GRE Score?

What makes a good GRE score depends on where you want to study and the program you are applying for. To help you determine a good GRE score, check what scores are typically expected by your prospective schools.

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There are general guidelines that determine how the GRE is scored and help to evaluate your performance. Below are some of them and how they apply to each section in the GRE:

Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning Sections

These two sections are scored on a scale of 130 to 170 in one-point increments. For most graduate programs, a score of 160 and higher in each section can be competitive. Highly selective programs like computer science and engineering expect higher scores above 160.

Analytical Writing Section

This section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6 in half-point increments. A score of 4.0 or above is considered a strong one and shows the applicant is proficient in explaining written texts. Some highly competitive programs may expect the test taker to score 5.0 and above in this section.

Overall GRE Score

The overall GRE score is the combination of the scores of the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections. The score ranges from 260 to 340 in one-point increments. The overall score of 310 is considered a solid baseline for most graduate programs in the institutions. For highly competitive and top-tier programs, applicants may need to score higher up to 320 and above.

Ultimately, a good score can get you admitted into your target programs. 

Achieving your desired GRE score starts with preparation! Try our GRE Pop Quiz to access free practice GRE questions.

What Is the Average GRE Score?

The average GRE score is based on the overall performance of all test takers in the Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. The test is graded 130 to 170 on a one-point scale for the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections. Also, the score range for analytical writing is 0-6 with a half-point increment.

Using the latest ETS General Test Interpretive Data Report, the current average score for the GRE is 307.63, including the whole GRE section. Here are the individual average scores for the GRE:

GRE Sections Average Section Score
Verbal Reasoning 150.37
Quantitative Reasoning 153.66
Analytical Writing 3.60
Total 307.63

Your total score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly during the test. The difficulty level of a particular question also determines your score for the specific section.

An above-average score means you score better than most people who took the test. In this case, your score will fall in the 50th percentile. An average score does not mean it is a good one, especially if you are seeking admission into highly competitive graduate programs. Scores above the 75th percentile are considered good ones.

GRE Score Range

Understanding and interpreting your GRE scores is important when you see the range in which your score fell. Here is a table showing the GRE score range:

GRE Test Section GRE Score Range
Quantitative Reasoning 130-170 in one one-point increment
Verbal Reasoning 130-170 in one one-point increment
Analytical Writing 0-6 in half-point increment
Total 260-340

GRE Scoring Percentiles

The percentile ranks also calculate GRE scores and indicate how you compare to other candidates. Compared with other test takers, if your score falls in a higher percentile, it shows that you have a better score than most test takers.

For example, if your score falls within the 98th percentile, it shows that you are in the top 2% and perform better than 98% of test takers. In contrast, if your percentile score is 50, it shows that you perform averagely compared to other test takers.

Normally, the GRE score has a normal distribution. This normal distribution shows that most people have average scores, around 150, and scores outside the range are rare.

GRE percentile scores cover a wide range of test takers with various qualifications from their previous academic backgrounds. Hence, different programs have specific GRE score percentile requirements for the applicants. Therefore, when determining a percentile score for a particular program, you should consider the competitiveness of the degree.

Below are your possible scores in the GRE and their corresponding percentile according to the ETS:

Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Percentile (%) Quantitative Reasoning Percentile (%)
170 99 96
169 99 95
168 98 93
167 98 90
166 97 89
165 96 86
164 94 84
163 93 82
162 90 79
161 88 76
160 86 73
159 83 70

Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Percentile (%) Quantitative Reasoning Percentile (%)
158 80 67
157 76 64
156 73 60
155 68 56
154 64 53
153 60 49
152 54 45
151 51 41
150 46 37
149 41 34
148 37 30
147 33 26
146 29 23
145 26 19
144 22 16

Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Percentile (%) Quantitative Reasoning Percentile (%)
143 19 13
142 16 11
141 14 9
140 11 7
139 9 6
138 8 4
137 6 3
136 4 2
135 3 2
134 2 1
133 2 1
132 1 1
131 1 1
130 1 1

The table shows the GRE analytical score levels and their percentiles:

Scores Level Writing Percentile (%)
6.0 99
5.9 98
5.0 92
4.5 81
4.0 57
3.5 39
3.0 15
2.5 7
2.0 2
1.5 1
1.0 1
0.5 1
0.0 1

FAQs: What Is a Good GRE Score?

What is a good score on the GRE? What is considered a good score on the GRE? Keep reading to find the answers to these frequently asked questions. 

1. Is 320 a Good GRE Score?

Yes, a score of 320 is considered a good score on the GRE. However, what makes a score good depends on the percentile and the requirements of the universities and programs you are applying for admission into graduate programs. A score of 320 makes you a competitive applicant because the higher your percentile, the more the competition.

2. Is 300 a Good GRE Score?

Yes, 300 is a good score and above average on the GRE. Scores like 300 and above increase your chances of getting into highly reputable institutions and programs.

3. What Is a Decent GRE Score?

A decent GRE score depends on the specific requirements of the graduate programs to which you're applying. Generally, scores around the 50th percentile in each section are considered average, while scores above the 75th percentile are often considered competitive for most programs. 

4. Can I Retake the GRE?

Yes, you can retake the GRE if you are unsatisfied with your initial score. However, make sure to consider the time, effort, and dedication needed for additional preparation for a retest. 

5. How Recent Should My GRE Score Be When Applying for Graduate Programs?

Many institutions accept scores that are up to five years old, but it's essential to check the specific requirements of the programs to which you're applying. Some programs may prefer more recent scores, especially if they want to assess your current abilities accurately. 

6. Can a Strong Application Compensate for Lower GRE Scores?

Yes, a strong application can compensate for lower GRE scores. The admission committee also considers factors such as GPA, personal statements, work experience, and letters of recommendation.

Final Thoughts

Becoming familiar with what is a good GRE score is important in your graduate school application. The definition of a good score varies by institution and program. With diligent preparation, you are on your way to reach your academic and career goals.

Good luck.

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