GRE Scoring Confidentiality
GRE scores are valid for five years after the test, giving students the opportunity to take the test multiple times and choose which scores to submit to graduate schools. GRE scores are confidential and are not to be released without explicit permission of the test taker. Students have control over whether their test is scored, and how their scores are disseminated. At the conclusion of your test, you will be presented with an option to cancel your test scores before the test is even graded. If you select this option, your test will be invalidated and you will not be able to see your score. If you submit your test for grading, you will immediately be shown your unofficial scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections. Official scores will be available 10-15 days after the date of the test, after the difficulty level has been analyzed and equated against other test compositions. Analytical Writing scores are not available until the official scores are complete, having been reviewed by at least one human grader.
The Educational Testing Service (ETS, the administrator of the GRE) has designed the GRE to maximize student control over their own testing and credentialing process. The GRE is the only graduate-level admissions test that allows students to skip questions, revise answers, and comprehensively review their work before submitting it for grading. This dedication to student empowerment is also reflected in the system for submitting test scores. At the conclusion of the test, after being given an option to cancel their scores, students will have the opportunity to view an estimated final score for the Quantitative and Verbal Reasoning sections before they decide whether to submit their scores.
The "Scoreselect" service makes it easy after the test for students to either submit all of their scores from the past five years, or only the scores from the most recent testing session. After test day, students can send additional score reports for a fee, including the score reports from specific testing sessions instead of a bundle of all test results. No matter when you report your scores or which options you choose, you will select which scores to report and the schools will see all your scores from those testing sessions. Schools will only see the scores that you send to them, and there will be no special indication whether you have taken additional GRE tests.
ETS provides educational institutions with a list of policies and guidelines to help ensure that they utilize test score information in a way that preserves its validity and confidentiality. The primary limitations of GRE scores are that they cannot measure all qualities that are important in predicting success in graduate or business school study, and they are an inexact measure with a standard error of measurement. So long as the difference between scores is greater than the "standard error of measurement" between the scores, then a comparison can be used as a reliable indication of real differences in applicants' academic knowledge and developed abilities. Institutions are encouraged to use each section score as a separate metric, and are forbidden from listing GRE score results on academic transcripts.
ETS policies describe their own practices for maintaining the integrity of the GRE, including determining who can use the score, validating the relevance of the exam for the purposes of admissions selection and guidance, maintaining student confidentiality, encouraging institutions to report test scores in an aggregated form, and providing concordance tables to compare new and old exam results. ETS guidelines describe advice for GRE score users to ensure proper use and maintenance of the test results. These guidelines include using multiple criteria for admissions decisions, conducting validity studies to ensure applicability of the test scores for specific institutions, using percentile ranks to compare candidates, avoiding decisions based on small score differences, and not comparing scores from different subject tests.
ETS has also designed a score comparison school to compare GRE and GMAT scores, designed to help institutions compare students with scores from either test. While the GMAT is used exclusively for MBA programs, the GRE is used for many different graduate programs including business schools. Although it is possible to compare scores using the ETS tool, or by looking at percentile scores, ETS emphasizes that the tests measure different attributes. The GMAT measures skills that are specifically useful in business contexts, whereas the GRE tests more general aptitudes. Generally, the GMAT is considered to have more challenging Quantitative sections, whereas the GRE has more challenging Verbal sections because its vocabulary is more difficult.