Understanding Average GRE Test Score And How GRE Scoring Works
Before you take your GRE test, you should keep in mind the average GRE test score of the targeted institution you wish to join. Based on this, it will be easier to know once results are out whether you are within the average score range.
Always find out the average score for each program you are interested in, as you will want to score above this average.
Here is a guide to your GRE score.
What is the Average GRE Score?
The GRE test is graded on a scale range from 130 to 170 on a one-point scale for the quantitative and verbal sections and a score range for analytical writing is 0-6, with half-point increments.
According to the 2022 ETS General Test Interpretive Data Report, the current national average GRE score is 307.63, including all GRE sections.
|GRE Test Section||Average GRE Score|
Over the past five years, these have been the average GRE scores for each test:
- Quantitative Reasoning: 153.66
- Verbal Reasoning: 150.37
- Analytical Writing: 3.60
A good GRE score is relative to the grad school you are applying to. More prestigious schools are much more competitive to get in and require higher GRE scores for acceptance as compared with lower tiered schools. Thus, your score’s competitive edge is dependent where you are applying to and what type of graduate major you are hoping to enroll in.
Keep in mind, your score is based on the number of questions you answered correctly along with the difficultly level of each question. You are not penalized for unanswered questions.
Average GRE Subject Test Scores
In addition to the GRE General Test, the ETS also offers subject tests to evaluate students’ knowledge and skills in specific academic areas. Each subject test is graded on a score scale range of 200 to 990, with 10 point increments.
|GRE Subject Test Section||Average GRE Subject Test Score|
According to the ETS 2022 Interpreting Your GRE Scores Report, the average GRE subject test scores are as follows:
- Biology: 665
- Chemistry: 689
- Mathematics: 664
- English literature: 542
- Psychology: 619
- Physics: 714
The subject tests are a bit different than the general test because they are graded on a different scale and are not mandatory. Thus, most candidates and grad school applicants do not take the subject tests. For example, in 2021-2022 about 1.55M candidates took the general test as compared with only approximately 50k candidates taking the subject tests.
It’s important to note that the sample size is much smaller for the subject tests and might skew the mean as compared to a larger pool of test takers.
Average ACT Score by Grad School, College, & University
Colleges and Graduate Schools use the GRE test results gauge to admit students. Most Universities have score cut offs or minimum acceptable scores that applicants are required to meet in order to be accepted in the graduate program.
These score requirements vary from college to college, but important note that a good score to one school might not be good enough to be accepted into another school.
Here is a table that shows the average GRE test scores for some of the most popular colleges and universities:
|Grad School / University||Verbal Reasoning Average Score||Quantative Reasoning Average Score||Total Average Score|
|California Technological University||158||166||324|
|University of Southern California||158||163||321|
|Carnegie Mellon University||159||161||320|
|University of California San Diego||154||166||320|
|University of Wisconsin Madison||157||163||320|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||157||162||319|
|University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign||155||163||318|
|University of Minnesota – Twin Cities||155||163||318|
|University of California Berkeley||155||161||316|
|Georgia Technological University||155||161||316|
|North Carolina State University||155||161||316|
|Arizona State University||154||162||316|
|University of Texas Austin||155||160||315|
|University of Michigan Ann Arbor||154||161||315|
|University of Washington||156||159||315|
|University at Buffalo – SUNY||154||161||315|
|Texas A&M University||154||160||314|
|University of Maryland College||154||160||314|
Top 10 Colleges with the Highest Average GRE Score
Here is a chart of the Average GRE Score for the top 10 performing colleges in the country:
|University||Average Verbal Score||Average Quantitative Score||Average Total Score|
|New York University||161||158||319|
|University of Pennsylvania||162||158||320|
|University of Southern California||161||157||318|
Which College or University has the highest average GRE score?
There are several graduate colleges and universities with impressively high GRE test scores, but the four graduate schools with the highest average GRE scores of 329, 328, 327, and 327, respectively are:
- Harvard University
- Stanford University
There are many other private colleges and universities that boast extremely high GRE test scores as well. For instance, the average GRE score for Yale is 326.
Average GRE Score by Major & Degree Program
GRE scores differ from one college degree program and major to the next. This makes sense because each major has a slightly different area of study allowing the students to do better on different test subjects.
The ETS reports in the Guidelines for the Use of GRE Scores 2022 the following average GRE scores by college majors:
|Intended Graduate Major||Verbal Reasoning Score||Quantitative Reasoning Score||Analytical Writing Score|
|Humanities & Arts||156||150||4.1|
|Social & Behavioral Sciences||151||152||3.9|
Which College Major has the highest average GRE score?
Many different majors have high GRE scores, but the two majors that tend to have the highest average GRE scores are Engineering and Physical Sciences.
This is most likely because these two areas of study are broad reaching and require students to master many cross-disciplines. With a broader knowledge of subjects and more expansive skill sets, Engineering and Physical Sciences students tend to do better on the GRE than students of other majors.
Average GRE Score for MBA and Business School Programs
The most common student to take the GRE test is a business major or MBA candidate. This is because almost all MBA programs require the GRE test for college admittance.
Here is a chart of the average GRE scores for MBA applicants and business program students.
|MBA Program||Average GRE Score||Quantitative Score||Verbal Reasoning Score|
|Northwestern University - Kellogg||326||163||163|
|UCLA - Anderson||326||163||163|
|University of Chicago - Booth||324||163||161|
|MIT - Sloan||323||162||161|
|University of Pennsylvania - Wharton||322||161||161|
|Berkeley - Haas||322||161||161|
|Cornell University - Johnson||320||160||160|
|Darthmouth - Tuck||319||159||161|
|Duke University - Fuqua||319||159||160|
|University of Michigan - Ross||319||161||161|
|University of Texas - McCombs||318||159||159|
Average GRE Score for Law School
Although historically most law schools haven’t required or accepted the GRE as an entrance exam, many are starting to change their opinions of the test and allow applicants to submit their score results.
Most law schools that accept the GRE test results typically convert them into LSAT scores to make them comparable to traditional law student applicants. During the conversion process, the individual section scores are lost and only the total score is left.
Here is a chart of the average GRE score for law schools applicants.
|Law School||Average GRE Score|
|Yale Law School||332|
|Harvard Law School||332|
|Columbia Law School||329|
|University of Virginia School of Law||328|
|University of Pennsylvania - Carey Law School||328|
|University of Chicago Law School||328|
|New York University School of Law||328|
|Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law||325|
|Duke University School of Law||325|
|University of California, Los Angeles School of Law||324|
|Georgetown University Law Center||324|
|Cornell Law School||324|
|University of Southern California - Gould School of Law||319|
|Boston University School of Law||319|
|Wake Forest University School of Law||314|
|University of California - Davis School of Law||314|
|University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law||314|
|Pepperdine University - Rick J. Caruso School of Law||312|
|Florida State University College of Law||311|
How is the GRE Test Scored?
The Verbal section and Quantitative section of the GRE are scored using the test’s raw results. The amount of questions answered correctly determines your raw score. GRE Verbal and GRE Quant both have 40 questions. Therefore, the highest possible raw score in any section is 40. The 40 raw score matches the official Verbal and Quant sections’ 40-point difference.
In the final score report, both of these portions are graded on a 130-170 scale. But, the raw score will differ from your final GRE official score since ETS will alter the number of points you receive for specific questions, dependent on how difficult they are. Some questions might be worth more points.
GRE Analytical writing section is not marked wrong or right, thus there is no raw score matching the 40-point grading range. AWA section is scored on rubric where the score ranges between 0 and 6, with scores calculated with half-point increases. AWA essays are modified for variations between various scorers rather than for relative difficulty.
The human scorer is assigned to each AWA essay, and the essay will also be submitted to a computer grader, ETS’s e-rater grading system. If the computer and human scores for AWA essays are similar, then the essay’s final score will be the sum of the computer and human scores.
Interestingly, if there are differences, then another human score will grade the essay, and the final score will be the median of the scores of human scorers. Thus, the total score will be the average of the argument essay and issue essay.
Is the GRE Test Graded on a Curve?
GRE score is not curved, and scores for the Quantitative and Verbal section fall in different percentiles. For instance, a score of 165 in the Verbal section might have you in the 96th percentile, but the same score will only get you in the 89th percentile.
Most importantly, most test-takers fall in the middle of the scale, and a 5 points increase from 150 to 155 might move you by a 21-point percentile, but a 5 points increase from 165 to 170 can only move you by three percentile points.
Who Grades the GRE?
The Education Testing Service (ETS) conducts the GRE test. The exam is paper and computer-based, and grading can be either through a human scorer or computer-based system, the e-rater scoring system.
Scorers/graders for the AWA section have been trained to assign scores depending on your essay’s quality and response to the task.
Why are GRE Scores Average Percentiles Important?
Your GRE percentile indicates how your result relates to the scores of all other test-takers. Compared to other test-takers, if your score falls in a higher percentile, then it means you scored better than the majority of the test-takers. For instance, a score in the 98th percentile indicates that you outperformed 98% of the test takers and are in the top 2%. Conversely, a GRE percentile score of 50 indicates that you scored in the middle of the pack, which is average.
The GRE score is meant to have a distribution that is close to normal. Therefore it implies that most people score in the middle of the scale, around 150 and that results outside of that range are uncommon.
Graduate programs are far more diverse than undergraduate degree programs, since they may have entirely distinct objectives and desirable credentials for prospective candidates. However, GRE percentiles assess the whole GRE test-taking participants. Thus engineering master’s degree candidates are compared to anthropology Ph.D. candidates.
Since GRE percentiles scores cover such a wide spectrum of individuals with varying qualifications and aspirations, different degree programs have distinct GRE score percentile requirements for applicants. Leading Math programs, for example, should expect a score in the 95th percentile on Quantitative reasoning , but it will be strange if they equally require a score on 95th percentile on Verbal section. Thus, when determining what percentile score you require for a specific program, there are two factors to consider: how competitive the program is and the part is most relevant.
What Does it Mean to Score above the Average GRE Score
Scoring an above-average GRE score means that you scored better than most test-takers, and in this case, you will fall in the 50th percentile. Similarly, a score in the 45% percentile can be an average score, but it will not be a good one.
An above-average score is not a guarantee that it is a good score because graduate programs are very competitive and a good score depends on the program you are looking to take. But in most cases, if your score falls in the 75th percentile, then it is a good score.