GRE Score Percentiles for 2020 – 2021


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GRE percentiles


Before we talk about the GRE score percentiles, it’s important to understand the GRE exam format and GRE syllabus. For now, here’s a quick overview.

The GRE General Test comprises the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. The total test duration is 3 hours 45 minutes.

The GRE test scores that are reported include:

a. The verbal reasoning score. This can range from 130-170 in one-point increment.

b The quantitative reasoning score. This can range from 130-170 in one-point increment.

c. The analytical writing score. This can range from 0-6 in half-point increment.

The GRE score report also gives you the percentile rank for each of the above test scores.

The scaled score leaves you wondering whether the scores you’ve got would be considered a good score or not. How do you compare your test performance with others who have taken the test? The percentile ranks are a good way to know where you stand.

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So what exactly are these percentile ranks?

Percentile scores are used to compare your scores with the scores of other test takers within a selected comparison group. Here, the percentile ranks indicate the percentage of test-takers who’ve receive a score below yours. For instance, if your score was reported to be in the 80th percentile, it would mean that you scored better than 80 percent of the test takers around the world.

These ranks are based on the GRE scores of those who tested earlier within a three year period. For those testing in 2016-17, the percentile ranks are calculated on the performance of those who were tested between July 1, 2012 and July 30, 2015.

GRE Score Percentiles for 2017 – 2018

Scaled Score Verbal Reasoning Percentile Rank Quantitative Reasoning Percentile Rank
170 99 97
169 99 97
168 98 95
167 98 93
166 97 91
165 95 89
164 94 87
163 92 85
162 90 82
161 88 79
160 85 76
159 82 73
158 80 70
157 75 67
156 72 63
155 68 59
154 64 55
153 60 51
152 55 47
151 51 43
150 47 39
149 42 35
148 38 31
147 34 27
146 30 24
145 26 20
144 23 17
143 19 14
142 17 12
141 14 10
140 11 8
139 9 6
138 7 4
137 6 3
136 4 2
135 3 1
134 2 1
133 1 1
132 1
131 1


Score Percentiles for Analytical Writing

Analytical Writing
Score Percentile Rank
6.0 99
5.5 98
5.0 93
4.5 82
4.0 59
3.5 42
3.0 17
2.5 7
2.0 2
1.5 1

Source: ETS

How are the GRE percentile scores calculated?

The GRE test can be either computer-based or paper-based. Both the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning have two sections with 20 questions per section. The difficulty level in the second section depends on your performance in the first section. All questions in a section contribute equally to the score. Based on the number of questions you answer correctly within a section, a raw score is obtained which is then converted into a scaled score.

In the analytical writing section of the computerised test, each of the two essays is reviewed by an experienced reader and receives a score on a six point scale. The essay also receives another computerised score from a program developed by ETS – the‘e-rater’. In this section, you’d be required to tackle an issue and an argument separately, with thirty minutes for each. You’d be required to evaluate and critically analyse the given topic and present a concise and logical essay.

The GRE test can be taken multiple times. The scores are valid for a period of upto five years from the date of testing.

The GRE test also provides you with the ScoreSelect option which means that you have the freedom to decide which score you wish to send to the schools of your choice.

Whether you’re targeting the top schools and trying to find out the ideal Harvard GRE score or a Stanford GRE score or you have an engineering background and interested in knowing the GRE score for MIT, a high GRE score percentile would undoubtedly be one of the criteria for getting into these top schools.

However, in addition to this, you also need to focus and spend enough time on the other aspects of the application – Statements of Purpose (SOP) in case of MS programs or the MBA essays. Read more on how to write a super-strong SoP.

Also ensure that you’re aware of how your student experience will be altered by the pandemic.


How to improve your GRE Percentile Score

We have prepared a list of free online resources to help you get better percentile scores.

Read more articles on the GRE exam.

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