GRE Score Percentiles

November 23, 2018

Percentiles, percentiles, percentiles. Is this a word you hear often when studying for the GRE? More than likely, you are immersed in test day strategies that will help you navigate around trick questions and increase your overall score. That's only natural—and frankly, worrying about rankings in terms of percentiles is certainly not the best use of your time or energy. Taking the time to explore universities and their percentiles, however, is of great use when in the application process. I know, I know, this can seem tiresome and just one more thing to worry about—but why wouldn't you want to know how you rank with other test-takers? When it comes to admission, competition is key.

Getting into the school of your dreams is no easy feat; understanding percentiles as it relates to your score can help you better comprehend your chances of admission, as well as how you line up with other prospective students. Think about it this way—an admissions committee gets so many applications each year, they have to organize them somehow. Utilizing percentiles allows the admissions office as well as other students understand the scope and landscape of the academic capabilities of those enrolled.

All of the following material is published by the creators and administrators of the GRE, so keep in mind this isn't "top secret" information that cannot be shared with the general public. Many schools will publish their own percentile rankings, and that information is often widely available on their website or through the admissions committee/office. Let's take a dive into some charts to better understand GRE percentiles.

Do you have your score handy? If you do, you will probably be able to determine your own percentile.

GRE Score Percentiles

Below are composite or "total score" percentiles. If you have both your verbal and quant scores at your disposal, you can determine your own ranking. Basically, a composite percentile on the GRE is what's most readily available at universities, often in the 25th and 75th percentile categories. This chart can go on for pages, so we made sure only to include top scores, since that's what you're aiming for. Notice that the percentiles are slightly lower for Quant, which should make you take heart!

ScoreVerbal PercentileQuant
1709997
1699996
1689894
1679892
1669791
1659689
1649487
1639384
1629181
1618878
1608676
1598373
1588069
1577666
1567362
1556959
1546555

GRE Writing Percentile

Just with the other sections, the GRE Writing percentile is important information, as well. This matters greatly, particularly if a university or graduate program/business school values writing in their program or curriculum. If you've had the opportunity to write a sample essay or two and they have been graded, you can find your percentile below. As with anything, you always want to aim high!

ScorePercentile
6.099
5.598
5.093
4.582
4.060
3.542
3.018
2.58
2.02
1.51
1.0-0---

GRE Verbal Percentiles

Okay, so we're getting a little bit more specific here. However, not all grad programs are alike and some value percentiles in Verbal sections if those skills are emphasized in the program. Below you will see percentiles per discipline, which should give you an idea of where you rank. Knowing your intended major and school will go a long way in determining your chances of admission through GRE percentiles.

Verbal Score135140145150155160165170
Life Sciences<14164168899799+
Physical Sciences414294665839499
Engineering516345373889799+
Social Sciences<14133357819499+
Arts & Humanities<12204570899799+
Education15204570899799+
Business28255074919899+

GRE Quant Percentiles

As with the Verbal section, Quant percentiles are also valued. Below you will see the same percentile disciplines aligned with average scores. Does your university or program value mathematics as a part of its curriculum? Science majors, as well as Engineering majors should definitely take note of these percentiles, in particular!

Quant Score135140145150155160165170
Life Sciences<14174272909799
Physical Sciences<1381731527491
Engineering<1261326487493
Social Sciences18244770859498
Arts & Humanities29255074899799+
Education19305780929899+
Business15173656728495

GRE Percentiles: The Takeaway

Look, you can't have your GRE percentile looming in the back of your mind while you're trying to apply effective test day strategies and techniques. However, determining your percentile very time you take a mock exam is a good way to utilize this information. Knowledge is power, right? Hence, the knowledge of where you rank in relationship to other applicants through this tool is key. Finally, we want to conclude with important information that should encourage you as you proceed with your course of study. Below are average GRE scores published by the makers of the exam from 2017:

Verbal: 149.97
Quant: 152.57
AW: 3.48

Are you above or below the average? Naturally, you want to keep aiming high, particularly for the school of your dreams. Use your GRE percentile as a tool—one that will hopefully serve you as you move forward to accomplish your goals.