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The GRE test is a competitive test that is required for admission to graduation, post graduation, and fellowship programs in U.S. universities. It is so renowned that the scores are considered valid for admission to leading universities in U.S., Canada, Australia and other countries abroad. It is tough to obtain high scores in this test. Students find it tough to surpass others in this test. It is necessary to know how the scores are calculated and what scores students achieve on an average. Once you know about this, it will be easy for you to plan to get high scores. This article will, hopefully, guide you to get a good result in GRE.

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GRE consists of the General test and subject tests. Taking up the General test is compulsory and opting to take up the subject tests depends on the requirement of the universities that you are planning to get admitted to. Some universities need you to take the Subject tests, while some may not. The General test comprises of mainly three sections, which are Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing.

The scores consist of 4 different scores: the total score, the Analytical Writing score, the Verbal Reasoning and the Quantitative Reasoning score. Based on these scores, management authorities find it very easy to grant admission. Your scores are determined by your performance and the number of questions answered in the test. A total score is calculated and this is converted to a scaled score by equating. This takes into account tests taken at different times. The scaled scores reflect the performance of the candidates irrespective of when the test was given or which section was given.

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In the Analytical Writing section, you need to write 2 essays, the topics of which will be given to you. Both the essays are scored by 2 examiners on a scale of 0 to 6 with half-point increments. If the scores determined by the examiners differ by more than a point, then a third examiner will be called in to decide the scores. He determines the final score. The final score on the two essays are averaged and rounded up to the nearest half-point and a score is reported for this section. If you do not write an essay, then the score will be reported as a no score.

The Verbal Reasoning section determines your Reading Comprehension skills, your ability to analyze and critically evaluate the given content in the test. You will be tested for your vocabulary and grammar usage. This section is scored on a scale of 130-170 with 1-point increments.

The Quantitative Reasoning tests your basic math skills and data interpretation in the form of graphs, tables, charts, etc. In this section, the score scale ranges between 130 and 170 with 1-point increments.


Your results hold good for a period of 5 years. Along with your scores, the percentile is also given. The percentile is an excellent indicator of how well you have performed; it compares your score with that of the other test-takers who have taken the exam. The 50th percentile score means that 50 percent of the test-takers have scored below this score. If you score well in the exam, then you can definitely gain admission easily into the university that you want to. You might have to take the test a few times to get the desired scores. Most universities have cutoffs determined for enrolling candidates to grauuate programs.

Universities that have a cutoff above 1400 are University of California, University of Illinois, and Purdue University.

Universities that have a cutoff score of 133-1400 are University of Florida, University of Michigan, and Boston University.

Universities that have a cutoff score above 1250 are University of California, Iowa State University, Virginia Tech.

Universities that consider a cutoff of 1200-1250 are Arizona State University, Ohio State University, and Oregon State University.

Universities that have a cutoff between 1150-1200 are NJIT, Colorado State University, and Indiana State University.

Some Universities that have a cutoff ranging from 1100-1150 are New Mexico State University, California State University, and Washington State University.

The University of North Dakota has a GRE cutoff below 1100.


Given below is a list of steps that you need to do to get beyond the average scores.

  • Prep Test: First of all, take up a diagnostic test to evaluate your weak areas. Which section of the GRE test are you good at? How would you rate yourself in the Analytical Writing section? If you evaluate yourself, you will have an idea of which area you need to concentrate on.
  • Study Plan: Practice as much as you can and make a specific study plan. You need to stick strictly to the plan and be strictly disciplined in following it up. Decide how, when, and what you are going to study to be effective in your preparation.
  • GRE Vocab: Working on your vocabulary is the best thing that you can do to score well in the Verbal Section. You can take up different modes of study such as learning through flashcards, making your own word lists, online study, read publications, etc.
  • Reading: Make reading a part of your daily routine. Try to reason and question yourself whatever you are reading. Try not to blindly accept what you are reading. This will help you in developing your critical reasoning skills.
  • Math Problems: Practicing the quant problems will help you a lot. When checking the wrong answers, try to find the solution to it and just do not go to the next problem. Try to analyze until you get the right one. This will help you to learn constructively.
  • Essay Writing: When you start practicing to write, first make a checklist of the points that you are going to include. It makes the writing much easier and you will have an easy flow of ideas.
  • Mock Tests: Take up as many mock tests as you can. You can evaluate yourself and you will get a fair idea of your abilities and your performance, and how you can improvise on your weak points.
  • Study Material: The study material available on websites relating to preparation including the GRE official website, provides you with enough practice tests, score analysis, tips to improve yourself. The POWERPREP II software is a very powerful tool that helps you with your Arithmetic problems, Verbal section, etc. ScoreItNow Online Writing Practice provides you with sample essays and acts as a platform for you to practice your writing.
  • GRE Books: The Official Guide to the GRE revised General Test acts as a guide and helps you with your preparation. Books like Barron’s GRE, and Kaplan’s GRE, Princeton Review math book offer you enough practice sessions. With effort and practice, you can easily solve the quantitative problems.
  • Target score: Having a particular target helps you to score beyond the average scores. You definitely need to score high to study for your graduate program.


As this test is a standardized test for various English-speaking countries and universities globally, there is no common average score as such. Some universities might have average scores as cutoff, though top universities will require candidates with high scores. A GRE score is the most important factor in determining your admission to a graduate program. It is most important to get a high score to be admitted to graduate programs and fellowships.

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