The GRE Scoring Methodology


As you probably already know, the GRE is a standardized test that aids in the admission requirements of many graduate schools. The main aim of students who appear for this exam is to get a high score, as an average score limits their opportunities. Each person has his own way of studying for the examination and accordingly, to achieve good marks that he is aiming for. Still, there are some time-tested techniques that prove to be indispensable and are effective in obtaining high scores. Read on to find out how you too can score high.


The most important objective would be to start studying at the earliest. Once you are aware of the test date, the syllabus of the test, and how the test should be attempted, it would be wise to draw a schedule and study for a few hours each day. We suggest this so that at the last minute there would not be any unnecessary tension or studying. It is prudent not to waste time and start studying in time.

Sometimes, we simply delay initiation because we feel that we are unfamiliar with the subject or that it is too tough. It is best that you prepare a schedule at the earliest and stick rigidly to that schedule. It is possible that later on, you take more time to be thorough with some difficult concepts or something unexpected might crop up to stop you from studying.

Take time to decide whether you want to study alone or whether you would be more comfortable to study with peers, or you would like to enrol in a coaching institute, or online help. You can also seek the guidance of former students who have attempted the GRE exam as this would make you more aware of the test type and questions. Once your preparation gets under way, depending on your comfort level you can either take a practice test immediately or maybe wait at least 2 weeks after you start studying. Once you get the results of the test, you will be able to analyze yourself and your strong and weak points can be determined. Then, you can decide on ways to improvise your weaknesses .


The POWERPREP II software on helps you in practicing tests and is very helpful. Once you take up the tests, you get immediate feedback, the right answer keys, tips and suggestions to improve your skills, questions and answers of the prior tests, etc. Details about the scoring pattern are also given, wherein you can understand the entire process. There are some websites where the practice tests are offered free, while at other sites a certain amount is to be paid in order to start practicing on these tests. Purchasing the ScoreItNow Online Writing helps you to practice your writing skills.


This entire test consists of the GRE General exam and the subject tests. The General test is essential and the subject tests depend on the universities which you would apply to. The General test consists of three sections that are Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning sections. The subject tests include Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Literature, Mathematics, and Psychology. Among these subjects, any one subject can be taken up as a test paper.

The score is on a range of 130-170 with 1-point increments for both the Verbal Reasoning as well as the Quantitative Reasoning sections. The new scoring scale helps you to gain admission more easily and also, when your score is compared with other candidates, small differences are not taken into account.


The Analytical Writing Section is scored on a scale of 0-6 with half-point increments. The test format consists of two essays of 30 minutes each. To score the essays, two readers judge the essays. If the scores differ by more than a point, a third writer is asked to set the scores. The final scores on both the essays are rounded to the nearest half-point. There is a single score for both the essays. Critical and reasoning skills are given more importance in this section rather than grammar. Also, the exam organizers have essay detection software that determines whether the essay is original or not. If it is found not to be original, then the scores are cancelled and the candidate would have to take up the test again.


The Verbal Reasoning section has new types of questions:

  • Text Completion.
  • Reading Comprehension.
  • Sentence Equivalence.

The Verbal Reasoning Section consists of two 40-minute sections. There is a major content change in the test format. You will be asked to analyze passages and find the relationship between words, sentences, and concepts. Based on partial information, you would be asked to complete passages or sentences. For example, you would be given questions with multiple choice answers and you have to decide whether one, two or all the three answers are right. The score scale is on a range of 130-170 in 1-point increments. These scores are allotted based on your performance and the difficult questions. If you do not answer a single question, the result would be a No Score.


The Quantitative Reasoning section consists of two 35-minute sections dealing in Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Data Analysis. Your basic math skills would be tested. Questions in tables and graphs, geometrical figures are given. Multiple choice questions would be given with numerical answers. Also, you would be provided with an online calculator to make you complete your test sooner. In addition to this, ETS also give you a handheld calculator during the course of the exam. These scores are scaled between 130-170 in 1-point increments.


Average GRE score is the main criteria for admission. Some top universities may expect a score of above 90 percent as basis for admission, yet some other colleges may consider it to be below 50 percent. So, even candidates with an average of 50 percent may get admission. The average score would be the 50th percentile that means 50 percent of people have scored less. To calculate the average, the scores of the candidates who have attempted the examination in the last 3 years are also taken into account. Also, candidates who desire to join foreign universities have to bear in mind the GRE national average score. This national average score is calculated by crossing past the average GRE score of the students of that particular country. Along with this score, the percentile is also calculated to judge the standard of the candidates. It shows the number of candidates who scored less in a particular test.

The questions answered by you are calculated into a raw score. This is converted to a scaled score by an equating process. This process shows minor differences in the tough questions attempted. This score signifies the level of performance in the test. It does not differentiate between the different sections or when the test was conducted.


If you have taken the test in the five year period prior to the current test, the previous Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scale scores of 200-800 with 10-point increments along with the current Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scale score of 130-170 with 1-point increments; and the Analytical Writing score scale of 0-6 with half-point increments with the percentile score would also be included in the GRE scores.

Finally, I would like to state that in order to get a high score, emphasis is laid on your critical and reasoning skills which can be acquired rather than studying. If you are not happy with your score, you can take up the test again unless you get the desired score. There is no limit to the number of times that you can take up the exam. An important thing to remember is that sectional scores from different tests will not be considered.