GRE Score Ranges

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a standardized test that is widely used for admissions to graduate schools and business programs globally. Understanding GRE score ranges is crucial for both test-takers and admissions committees. This comprehensive guide will cover everything from the basic scoring structure of the GRE, the different sections and their respective scoring ranges, how scores are calculated, the implications of different score ranges for graduate school admissions, and tips for achieving your desired score.

Introduction to GRE Scoring

Overview of the GRE

According to, the GRE consists of three main sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Each of these sections assesses different skills and has its own scoring range.

Importance of GRE Scores

GRE scores are used by graduate and business schools to evaluate applicants’ readiness for advanced study. High scores can enhance an application, while low scores may require strong compensatory elements, such as work experience, recommendations, or a high GPA.

GRE Sections and Scoring Ranges

Verbal Reasoning


The Verbal Reasoning section measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material, synthesize information, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences, and understand relationships among words and concepts.

Scoring Range

The Verbal Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 130 to 170, in one-point increments.

What the Scores Mean

  • 130-140: Scores in this range indicate a need for significant improvement in verbal skills. Test-takers in this range might struggle with reading comprehension and vocabulary.
  • 141-150: Scores here suggest a basic understanding of verbal concepts but highlight areas for improvement, particularly in higher-order reading comprehension and critical thinking.
  • 151-160: This range represents solid performance. Test-takers can handle complex verbal tasks and have a good grasp of vocabulary and reading comprehension.
  • 161-170: Scores in this range indicate excellent verbal reasoning abilities, with strong critical reading and vocabulary skills.

Quantitative Reasoning


The Quantitative Reasoning section measures your ability to understand, interpret, and analyze quantitative information, solve problems using mathematical concepts, and apply basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis skills.

Scoring Range

The Quantitative Reasoning section is scored on a scale of 130 to 170, in one-point increments.

What the Scores Mean

  • 130-140: Scores in this range suggest difficulties with basic mathematical concepts and problem-solving skills.
  • 141-150: Scores here indicate a foundational understanding of quantitative concepts but highlight areas needing improvement in data interpretation and problem-solving.
  • 151-160: This range represents competent performance in quantitative reasoning, with solid skills in math and problem-solving.
  • 161-170: Scores in this range indicate strong quantitative reasoning abilities, with excellent skills in math, data analysis, and problem-solving.

Analytical Writing


The Analytical Writing section measures your critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.

Scoring Range

The Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of 0 to 6, in half-point increments.

What the Scores Mean

  • 0-1: Scores in this range indicate serious deficiencies in analytical writing and critical thinking skills.
  • 1.5-2.5: Scores here suggest a basic understanding of writing and argumentation but highlight significant areas for improvement.
  • 3-4: This range represents moderate writing skills. Test-takers can develop ideas and support arguments but may lack clarity and coherence in their writing.
  • 4.5-5.5: Scores in this range indicate strong writing abilities with clear articulation of ideas and well-supported arguments.
  • 6: A perfect score demonstrates exceptional writing skills, with outstanding clarity, coherence, and argumentation.

Calculating GRE Scores

Raw Scores to Scaled Scores

Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning

The raw scores for Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning are based on the number of correct answers. These raw scores are then converted to scaled scores using a process called equating, which accounts for variations in difficulty across different test versions.

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section is scored by both human raters and a computerized program. Each essay receives a score from two raters, and the average of these scores is taken. If the scores differ significantly, a third rater is used.

Percentile Ranks

Percentile ranks provide context to your scores by showing how you performed relative to other test-takers. For example, a Verbal Reasoning score in the 90th percentile means you scored better than 90% of test-takers.

Implications of GRE Score Ranges

Graduate School Admissions

Minimum Requirements

Many graduate programs have minimum GRE score requirements for admission. These requirements vary by program and can range from modest to highly competitive.

Competitive Scores

  • Top-tier Programs: Scores in the upper percentiles (e.g., 160+ in both Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning) are typically required for admission to top-tier programs.
  • Mid-tier Programs: Scores around the 150-160 range are often sufficient for mid-tier programs.
  • Lower-tier Programs: Programs with more flexible admission standards may accept scores in the lower ranges, particularly if other aspects of the application are strong.

Scholarship Opportunities

High GRE scores can also enhance your chances of receiving scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Many programs offer merit-based scholarships to applicants with outstanding GRE scores.

International Students

For international students, GRE scores can provide a standardized measure of academic ability that complements other application materials, such as transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Strategies for Achieving Your Desired GRE Score

Understanding the Test Format

Familiarize yourself with the structure and format of the GRE. Understanding the types of questions and the time limits for each section can help reduce anxiety and improve your performance.

Effective Study Plans

Develop a study plan that includes regular practice and review. Focus on your weak areas while also reinforcing your strengths. Use a variety of study materials, such as prep books, online resources, and practice tests.

Practice Tests

Taking full-length practice tests under timed conditions is crucial. Practice tests help you become familiar with the test format, build endurance, and identify areas needing improvement.

Test-Taking Strategies

Learn and practice effective test-taking strategies, such as time management, educated guessing, and process of elimination. These strategies can help you maximize your score, even on difficult questions.

Review and Analyze

After each practice test, thoroughly review your answers. Analyze your mistakes to understand why you got questions wrong and how to correct your approach. This continuous feedback loop is essential for improvement.

Seeking Help

If you struggle with certain sections, consider seeking help from tutors or prep courses. Professional guidance can provide personalized strategies and insights to help you overcome specific challenges.

Verbal Reasoning: In-Depth Analysis

Question Types

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension questions assess your ability to understand and analyze written passages. You will be asked to identify the main idea, make inferences, and understand the structure and purpose of the text.

Text Completion

Text completion questions require you to fill in the blanks within a passage. These questions test your ability to use context to determine the meaning of words and sentences.

Sentence Equivalence

Sentence equivalence questions ask you to select two words that complete a sentence and produce similar meanings. These questions test your vocabulary and understanding of sentence structure.

Improving Verbal Scores

Expanding Vocabulary

A strong vocabulary is essential for the Verbal Reasoning section. Use flashcards, vocabulary lists, and reading materials to learn new words and understand their usage.

Reading Practice

Regular reading of diverse materials, such as academic journals, literature, and news articles, can improve your reading comprehension skills. Focus on understanding the main ideas, arguments, and structures of the texts.

Practice Questions

Consistent practice with verbal reasoning questions can help you become familiar with the question types and improve your accuracy and speed.

Quantitative Reasoning: In-Depth Analysis

Question Types

Quantitative Comparison

Quantitative comparison questions ask you to compare two quantities and determine the relationship between them. These questions test your ability to reason and calculate quickly.

Problem Solving

Problem-solving questions present mathematical problems that you must solve. These questions cover arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

Data Interpretation

Data interpretation questions require you to analyze and interpret data from tables, graphs, and charts. These questions test your ability to understand and work with data.

Improving Quantitative Scores

Reviewing Fundamentals

A strong foundation in basic math concepts is crucial. Review arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis to ensure you understand the fundamental principles.

Practice Problems

Consistent practice with quantitative reasoning problems can help you improve your problem-solving skills and speed. Use a variety of sources, such as prep books and online resources, for diverse practice.

Timed Practice

Practicing under timed conditions can help you improve your time management skills and build endurance for the test day.

Analytical Writing: In-Depth Analysis

Task Types

Analyze an Issue

In the “Analyze an Issue” task, you must write an essay in response to a prompt that presents an issue. You are asked to take a position on the issue and support your argument with reasons and examples.

Analyze an Argument

In the “Analyze an Argument” task, you must critique an argument presented in a prompt. You are asked to identify logical flaws and evaluate the strength of the evidence provided.

Improving Writing Scores

Understanding the Rubric

Familiarize yourself with the scoring rubric for the Analytical Writing section. Understanding what graders are looking for can help you structure your essays effectively.

Practice Essays

Writing practice essays can help you improve your writing skills and become familiar with the task types. Focus on developing clear and coherent arguments, supporting your points with relevant examples, and maintaining good grammar and syntax.

Review and Feedback

Seek feedback on your practice essays from teachers, peers, or online forums. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and refine your writing skills.

GRE Score Reporting

Choosing Score Recipients

When you take the GRE, you can choose up to four score recipients for free. Additional score reports can be sent for a fee. Use the GRE ScoreSelect option to decide which scores to send to schools, allowing you to present your best performance.

Understanding Score Reports

GRE score reports include your scores for each section, percentile ranks, and your test dates. Schools receive these reports and use them as part of their admissions process.

Retaking the GRE

If you are not satisfied with your scores, you can retake the GRE. Consider your study plan and areas for improvement before retaking the test. Use your previous scores and feedback to guide your preparation.

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