GRE Scoring

Understanding the GRE Revised General Test Scoring System

The GRE Revised General Test has a scoring system that is a big departure from both its previous scoring system and the scoring system of several other standardized tests (eg. GMAT scoring). Instead of Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores that range from 200 to 800 previous, the Verbal and Quantitative scores now range from 130 to 170 in one point increments.

ETS says that the new scoring system allows it to get better use of the whole scoring range. Previously, for example, a perfect 800 score on the Quantitative section put test takers in the 94th percentile. The new system measures finer increments all they way up the percentile rankings to the top. For the GRE Revised General Test, a 166 out of 170 translates to the 94th percentile. Currently, the mean Verbal Reasoning score is 150.8 and the mean Quantitative Reasoning score is 151.3. The 86th percentile is 161 in the Verbal Reasoning section and a 162 in the Quantitative Reasoning section.

The Analytical Writing section continues to be scored on a scale of zero to six at half point increments. The mean falls at 3.7. A 6.0 is now the 99th percentile. A 5.5 is the 96th percentile and a 5.0 is the 92nd.

There is no total combined score for the GRE Revised General Test. Score reports include one score for each of the three sections, Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Writing.

The ScoreSelect Advantage

While the revised scoring system makes it harder to ace the GRE test with a perfect score in one of the sections, ETS offers some relief to GRE test takers in the form of its ScoreSelect system. There are three versions of ScoreSelect that test takers may use to send score reports to graduate schools.

ScoreSelect Recent sends only the most recent test score; ScoreSelect All sends scores of all tests taken within the past five years; and ScoreSelect Any allows test takers to pick and choose one or many scores to send to graduate schools. Only complete test scores may be selected – it is not possible to select a Verbal Reasoning score from one test and a Quantitative Reasoning score from another.

Only the ScoreSelect Recent and ScoreSelect All options are available for free on test day. For ScoreSelect Any, test takers must pay a fee after the test was taken. Still, this new option negates the need to ever cancel test scores. Someone who is unhappy with a score could choose not to send test scores on the test day and then use ScoreSelect Any to send their best scores at another time.

How GRE Scores are Calculated

Both the Quantitative Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning sections of the GRE are section adaptive. That means that the first part of these sections is of mid-range difficulty, and those who scored well on the first part received a more difficult second part. To calculate scores, ETS begins with a raw score of how many questions were correct in each section regardless of level of difficulty. It then conducts a process that it calls equating, in which the scores are adjusted to account for variations in difficulty of some of the questions. ETS says that the resulting scaled score gives GRE test takers an accurate measure regardless of which version of the test was taken.

For the Analytical Writing Section, the essays are scored once by a trained reader and the second time by a computerized e-rater. The two scores are compared and if they are identical, or close to identical, the human score is used. If they differ by a certain amount, a second trained reader reads the essays and the two human scores are averaged together. The two essays are scored separately and averaged together to compute the final score, which ranges from zero to six at half point intervals. On the paper version of the test, the essay is scored by two trained readers without the use of a computerized e-rater.