GRE Composite Score to Percentiles Conversion

January 24, 2019

Most students facilitate a rigorous course of GRE prep for one reason: to get a high score. Does this sound familiar in terms of your own goals? Naturally, you want to perform the best you can on exam day, as a high composite GRE score opens doors to elite graduate or post-graduate admission opportunities. While sectional scores minimums can vary depending on school and program, you are probably most concerned with your composite score—and why shouldn't you be? It's the number you walk away with after an intense preparation experience vital to your grad school applications.

Equally as important as your GRE composite score is your percentile. What's a percentile? It's a ranking that shows how well you did in comparison with other students who apply or are admitted. Usually, percentiles occur in the 75th and 25th range; many schools publish their test score percentiles so students can best assess their competition. Knowing how well your peers perform on test day can shed some light on your own preparation process and score expectations.

Converting your GRE composite score to your GRE percentile ranking is a common tool students utilize. In this article, we're going to delve into the importance of both, as well as detail conversion charts that will give you a chance to determine your own percentile. Note: In order to do so, you will need to have your total score handy, so if you don't have one, you may want to invest in a mock exam first.

GRE Composite Score: The Basics

Before delving into the conversion process, it's important to understand how GRE scoring works as a whole. Your GRE composite score is determined by combining your total scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning, each scored on a scale of 130-170 in one-point increments. Additionally, there is an Analytical Writing portion—which does not affect your GRE composite score—that is rated on a scale of 0-6 in half-point increments.

Your GRE composite score is important for graduate or business school admission and an aspect of your application admission officers weigh with great consideration. Some schools may have minimum score requirements on a section-by-section basis, especially if your degree or area of focus requires those skills. (Example: A program in Engineering might value Quantitative Reasoning, such as UC Berkeley, where applicants average 160 on the Quant section.)

All in all, your GRE composite score is necessary to determine your percentile ranking.

GRE Percentiles: Their Significance

Again, percentiles are utilized to determine how well you performed on the test compared with other students. Admissions officers use this as a means to filter through applications, as many schools have minimum and average GRE scores.

In general, the higher your percentile, the better your score is compared to other students. In other words, if you are in the 99% percentile, this means you scored better than 99% other test-takers and are in the top 1%! (And let's face it—how cool is it to be able to say you're in the top 1%?)

The percentile conversion charts are courtesy of ETS, the makers and administrators of the GRE.

GRE Composite Score to GRE Percentile

If you have your composite score handy, you can determine your percentile ranking from the chart below. While there may be room for a point or two of error, in general, this is how you can determine where you fall in line. As you determine your percentile, ask yourself the following questions: Is my percentile ranking higher or lower than I initially anticipated? What areas can I improve upon to increase my percentile ranking?

GRE Composite ScoreGRE Percentile
110061%
115070%
120079%
125085%
130091%
135095%
140097%
145098%
150099%

GRE Verbal Score to Percentile

Some schools require minimums on Verbal composite scores—especially if it's an area of focus or program that harnesses language, grammar, and reading, such as English, History or Fine Art. Below are percentile conversions for the GRE verbal section.

GRE Verbal ScoreGRE Verbal Percentile
51869
54876
57884
63993
69997
71198
72398
73599

GRE Math Score to Percentile

Similar to the verbal section, the Quantitative Reasoning portion of the GMAT also has a conversion chart—but please note that it's slightly different than its counterpart. Schools that have minimum Quant scores might revolve around majors such as Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering.

GRE Math ScoreGRE Math Percentile
66269
70076
73884
753.286
768.489
783.690
798.892

GRE Analytical Writing Score to Percentile

While the Analytical Writing section does not factor into your composite GRE score, schools that place an emphasis on writing will take your AWA performance into consideration. Similarly, such schools may make use of percentile rankings with your writing, where the following conversion chart can prove to be useful.

GRE Analytical Writing ScoreGRE Percentile
6.099
5.598
5.093
4.582
4.059
3.542
3.017
2.57
2.02
1.51
1.0---

GRE Composite Scores to Top Schools

The following schools show composite GRE score ranges for some of the country's top schools. These are to give you an example of what to expect from some institutions; like the previous sections, you can determine a percentile ranking from these programs, should you be interested in applying. Note: Each school is shown a science-related major, Biological Sciences, and a verbal one, English. Naturally, the score ranges are different for each.

Institution &
Program
Estimated Verbal GRE
Verbal Range
Estimated
Quantitative GRE
Verbal Range
Columbia
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

158-162
151-155

Harvard
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

159-163
151-155

Stanford
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

159-163
151-155

Princeton
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

159-163
151-155

Yale
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

157-161
151-155

Cornell
Biological Sciences
English

 

156-160
160-164

 

159-163
151-155

All in all, a high GRE composite score is your greatest asset when it comes to enhancing your application for graduate school admission. In knowing our composite score, whether through a formally administered GRE test or mock exam, you are able to determine your percentile ranking, which can reveal a lot regarding your performance in relation to others. This knowledge is invaluable in determining your chances of admission and can paint a realistic image of what to expect when planning a rigorous course of GRE preparation and study.