A good GRE score is all that stands between you and the grad school you’ve always wanted to attend. You have to nail all three parts so you can have a competitive score and get into the school of your dreams.
In this guide, you’ll see exactly how scoring works on all three individual parts. Also, you’ll see which scores qualify as the best and which scores might require a bit more work. But first, let’s take a look at how competitive GRE is and what’s a good GRE score.
The GRE consists of three parts: analytical writing, verbal and quantitative reasoning. For the verbal and quantitative parts, you’ll be graded on a scale from 130 to 170, in one-point increments. On the other hand, analytical writing follows a scale from zero to six and it’s divided into half-point increments.
Depending on which grad school you want to attend, you should mostly focus on the verbal and quantitative parts. A small difference in the scoring here can really make or break your overall score.
What’s a Good GRE Score for Your Dream School?
Which school you want to go to and what its criteria are will determine how good your scores need to be. For example, a good GRE score for verbal reasoning can be anywhere between 150 and 158. You’ll also be well off if you’ve scored between 153 and 158 on your quantitative part. Also, you need to get at least a 4.0 score on your writing.
But these scores might not get you into every grad or business school. In fact, just the mid-range GRE scores are from 158 to 162 on the verbal and between 159 to 164 for your quantitative part. You’ll also need to get a 4.5 score on analytical writing.
But to get into the top-tier business schools like Harvard, Wharton, MIT, or Berkley, you’ll need to step up your game even more. For example, the best GRE scores for the verbal part are between 163 and 170. On your quantitative part, you should aim for a score between 165 to 170. Your writing assignment, on the other hand, should get you a score between five and six.
To figure out what’s a good GRE score for the school of your dreams, you need to convert all of your scores into a percentile scale. What’s more, working out the percentile scale is the only way to tell how well you did compared to other test-takers nationwide.
But before you can convert the score into the percentile scale, you need to know what the average GRE scores are. For verbal reasoning, the average score is 150.75, while for the quantitative part, it’s 151.91. Also, getting a score of 3.6 on your writing would put you right in the middle of the scale, at the 50th percentile.
However, in order to get into most grad or business schools, being in the middle of the pack simply won’t cut it. You’ll need to be in the 60th or 65th percentile to apply to most schools. For example, getting 65% on your verbal part equals to 155 points and 156 on your quantitative. Also, you would need to score either 4.0 or 4.5 on the writing part.
Now, if you’re not interested in barely getting by, you should shoot for the 84th to 87th percentile. To be in that range, you’ll need to get either 160 or 161 on your verbal, and 162 or 163 on your quantitative. You will also need to get either 4.5 or 5.0 on your analytical writing section.
But if you want to be the best, you need to reach for anything above the 90th percentile. That would mean getting at least 163 on verbal and 165 on quantitative. Finally, you need to score anything above 5.0 on the writing to be on top.
Preparing for the GRE
Most students need between one to three months to prepare for the GRE. But to get into the 90th percentile, you’ll need to prepare for over a hundred hours. One way to see how far you’ve come with your studies is to take a practice test.
You can even find free online tests that will show you how well you did on each part. Once you have the results, you’ll have a good starting point to see how much more you need to do.
You should also look up the percentile scores for all of the schools you want to attend. That way, you’ll have a better reference for what’s a good GRE score for those particular schools.
Of course, if all else fails and you’re not happy with your scores, you can always retake the GRE. In fact, a study showed that the majority of people who redid the test got a better score the second time around. You can take the GRE five times during the course of 12 months. What’s more, your scores will last you up to five years.
As you can see, there isn’t just one answer to what’s a good GRE score question. It will differ from one person to the next, depending on which school they want to go to. But if you want to stay competitive, you need to be at least somewhere around the 60th or 65th percentile for all three parts. And if you’re not feeling confident in how well you did, you can always retake the GRE once you’re better prepared.