How to Compare Your GRE Score to Others

By Ron Woldoff, Joseph Kraynak

How your GRE test score compares to others is very important. For example, if you score a perfect 340 or something close to it on the GRE, you know you did well. If you score a 260, you know you bombed. But what if you score something in between? Did you pass? Did you fail?

What do you make of your score? Well, you can’t really tell much about your score out of context. There’s no pass or fail, no A, B, C, D, F — but there is a percentile ranking. To download the complete percentile table, visit the Educational Testing Service website, click GRE Tests, and search for “percentile ranking.” Here are some highlights:

  • A raw score of 165 is typically a 95th percentile ranking in the Verbal and a 91st percentile ranking in the Math.

  • A raw score of 160 is typically an 84th percentile ranking in the Verbal and a 78th percentile ranking in the Math.

For both the Math and Verbal scores, you count the questions you answered correctly and then add 130 to that number. Because both Math and Verbal have 40 questions (two sections with 20 questions each), this method gives you an approximate score from 130 to 170.

Basically, with a range of 40 points, each point counts for a lot. How well you do is relative to how well the other people taking the test perform and the requirements of the graduate program you’re applying to. What’s most important is that you score high enough to get accepted into the program you have your heart set on. Once you’re in your program, the GRE score doesn’t matter.

Your GRE score is only one part of the total application package. If you have a good undergraduate GPA, a strong résumé, and relevant work experience, you may not need as high of a GRE score. On the other hand, a stellar GRE score can compensate for your weak areas.