Question: What's a Good GRE Score?
When you sign up to take the GRE, one of the only thoughts on your mind is whether or not the score you're going to earn is going to be good enough to get you into the school of your choice. You want to know what a good GRE score is, and luckily, ETS has published the statistics that explain just that.
Average GRE Scores in the Prior Format
The old GRE used a different scoring scale than the current Revised GRE uses, and these scores are accepted up to five years after you took the test. So, even if you were the last person to take the prior GRE format (in July 2011), then your scores are good until July, 2016. On the old GRE, you could have earned anywhere from 200 – 800 points on both the prior Verbal and Quantitative sections. The Analytical Writing section did and still does garner test-takers anywhere from a 0-6. Below, you'll see the average GRE scores for the prior GRE exam from early 2011, which is the last year averages were reported for this format.
Good GRE Scores in the Prior Format
Most universities do not publish the average GRE scores for all admitted students like they do for the SAT or ACT tests. Some, however, publish admissions statistics per graduate program. If, for instance, you're interested in majoring in an Engineering field in grad school and have a few top schools in mind to which you're thinking about applying, you could go to one of the grad pages for your field and find out the admissions statistics for incoming students. For instance, the average student admitted to Engineering at MIT earned a 750 in the old format.
If you have no idea where you'd like to go, but just want to gauge how well other students are doing who are considering the same major in grad school, you can check out the average GRE scores in the prior format based on intended major, which is a chart based on national statistics.
ETS, the maker of the GRE, publishes the percentiles of GRE scores so you can see that if you're attending a top tier school, and you'd like to get in, you'd better be thinking about submitting a score in the top 1 - 2 percent of test-takers:
Prior Verbal Top Percentiles:
- 99th percentile: 740 – 800
- 98th percentile: 720 – 730
- 97th percentile: 710
- 96th percentile: 700
- 95th percentile: 680 – 690
- 93rd percentile: 660 – 670
- 91st percentile: 650
Prior Quantitative Top Percentiles:
- 94th percentile: 800
- 90th percentile: 790
- 88th percentile: 780
- 83rd percentile: 770
- 81st percentile: 760
Prior Analytical Writing Top Percentiles:
- 99th percentile: 6.0
- 94th percentile: 5.5
- 84th percentile: 5.0
- 67th percentile: 4.5
- 45th percentile: 4.0
- 26th percentile: 3.5
Good GRE Scores and Admittance
For admittance, your GRE score is not the only thing a university is going to consider. GRE scores are taken into consideration, but your overall undergraduate GPA, major and minor undergraduate GPA, admissions interview, extracurricular activities, internships, and even publications and field work will all play a part in your admission. However, this exam is still huge. If your GPA is so-so and you don't have much experience, but you'd still like to get into a competitive program, then it's in your best interest to nail the GRE so your score helps mitigate an average application.How Prior GRE Scores Compare to Revised GRE Scores.