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Home > GRE Score Validity, How to understand GRE Score ?

In order to understand the value of a GRE score, it is helpful to know the percentile ranking assigned to that particular score. The percentile ranking expresses the percentage of the test-taking population that receive scores below a particular score. Therefore, the higher the percentile ranking, the more competitive the score. The following table shows the range of possible verbal and quantitative scaled scores and the percentile rankings assigned to those scores.

Percentages of Examinees Tested from
January 1999 through December 2001 (Including Repeaters)
Who Scored Below Specified Total Scores

Scaled Score Verbal Quantitative
800 99 92
780 99 87
760 99 83
740 99 79
720 98 74
700 96 70
680 95 66
660 93 62
640 90 57
620 87 53
600 84 48
580 80 44
560 75 40
540 70 35
520 65 32
500 59 27
480 54 24
460 48 20
440 42 17
420 36 14
400 30 12
380 25 9
360 20 7
340 15 5
320 10 4
300 6 3
280 3 2
260 1 1
240   1
220    
200    

Source: Educational Testing Service. Guide to the Use of GRE Scores, (2002).

While the total scaled scores range from 200 to 800, approximately two-thirds of test-takers score between 360 and 600 in verbal and between 420 and 760 in quantitative. Although the verbal and quantitative sections are both scored on the same scale, the percentile associated with an individual score in the verbal section may be different from the percentile associated with the same score in the quantitative section. For example, a verbal scaled score of 540 places a student in the 70th percentile for that section. A quantitative scaled score of 540, however, only places the student in the 37th percentile for that section.

Based on the performance of examinees who testedbetween October 1, 2002, and November 30, 2002
Score Levels Percentage of Examinees Scoring
Lower than AW Score Levels
6.0 94
5.5 82
5.0 65
4.5 45
4.0 27
3.5 15
3.0 8
2.5 5
2.0 3
1.5 3
1.0 3
0.5 3
0 0

Over 90% of test-takers score at least a 3 on the AW scale. Since the essays need to be sent to readers in order to be graded, students cannot view their AW scores on the same day that they take the test. Students who choose to keep their scores receive an official GRE score report via regular mail approximately two weeks later. The AW score is included in this score report.

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