GRE Score Percentiles: All You Need to Know

This article contains information on GRE Score percentiles and the best GRE score for graduate, law, and business school.

Postgraduates need to understand the GRE format and syllabus. All postgraduates seeking admission to a graduate school must understand how things work and the GRE scores that are competitive for admission.

The GRE General Test consists of quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. Obtaining high scores in quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing is important. What is also important is the percentile score.

Your percentile score will determine if you are competitive for admission or not. The percentile scores are used to compare the score of an applicant with other test-takers scores. Those who score in the 60th percentile or higher have a better chance of admission.

Read this article to the end to know competitive GRE scores for admission to graduate school.

GRE Score Percentiles

GRE Score Percentiles

The GRE score percentile is a ranking to ascertain competitive GRE scores among test takers. The GRE score percentile determines if your GRE score is competitive enough when compared with the scores of other test takers.

GRE scores earned from quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing correspond to a few percentiles. To fully understand the meaning of percentile, here is an example. 

For instance, when you get a score that corresponds to the 99th percentile in verbal reasoning, it simply means you obtained a score higher than the 99th of test-takers in verbal reasoning. The same thing happens for quantitative reasoning and analytical writing.

GRE score percentiles assist postgraduates, and the GRE score to aim for. GRE score percentiles correspond to scores within every GRE section, which includes quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing.

Each section has its list of percentile rankings, and the percentiles are different within every GRE section.

Are Percentiles Important?

Percentiles are important and required by some universities as entry requirements. Just as high school GPAs are important and required for admission to undergraduate studies, some universities require GRE percentiles for admission.

In general, GRE is required for admission to various graduate programs. For universities to determine worthy candidates for admission, they use percentiles as selection criteria.

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Verbal and Quant Percentile

GRE scores in different sections can vary in percentile. For instance, if an applicant scores 330 in the real GRE. The applicant scores 165 in the Maths section and 165 in the Verbal section, the percentile will vary.

With a score of 165 in Maths, the percentile is 86%, while the same score in the verbal section is 96%. This indicates that a score of 165 in Maths and Verbal will have a different percentile ranking.

However, the percentile ranking in each section is dependent on the percentage of test takers who obtained scores of 165. A good GRE quantitative score percentile is achieved if the test taker can score above 165.

Let us look at GRE score percentiles quant and verbal.

Verbal Reasoning Section Percentiles

Verbal Reasoning Percentile RankVerbal Reasoning Score

Quantitative Reasoning Section Percentiles

Quantitative Reasoning Percentile RankQuantitative Reasoning Score

Analytical Writing Percentiles

ScoreAnalytical Writing Percentile Rank

What Is the Guide to GRE Scoring?

In general, you will earn three GRE scores on your score report. One for quantitative reasoning, the same for verbal reasoning, and analytical writing.

The GRE score range

SectionScore Range
Quantitative Reasoning130-170 in one-point increments
Verbal Reasoning130-170 in one-point increments
Analytical Writing0-6 in half-point increments

Also Read: Indiana University Bloomington: Admissions, Ranking, Requirements

What Is Considered a Good GRE Score?

As we said earlier, GRE score percentiles are rankings that determine how competitive an applicant’s GRE score is when compared to other test takers. With a good GRE score, an applicant is considered competitive for admission to postgraduate studies.

The lowest GRE score in the quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning sections is 130, while the highest GRE score in the two sections is 170. However, the composite score for the sections can range from 260 to 360 points.

A good GRE score depends on several factors. It may depend on the characteristics of a graduate school application, the GRE score distribution of your desired programs or personal ambitions.

What Is a Good Percentile on the GRE?

A good percentile on the GRE is very essential for admission to a specific program. A good percentile on the GRE general test varies based on the institution and program type.

GRE examination scores and GRE score percentiles will vary for each section of the examination. To understand how this works, we will look at some examples for GRE percentiles.

For instance, Economics programs at UC Davis require 60th or above GRE score percentiles in verbal and a minimum of the 70th percentile in quant. The graduate school also requires 30th or higher GRE score percentiles in verbal for non-naïve English speakers.

Harvard Graduate School of Education requires an average of the 50th percentile for verbal reasoning and the 30th percentile for quant scores.

What are the Average GRE Scores for Graduate School?

Now let us look at the average GRE scores required for programs at some universities.

ProgramSchoolQuant averageVerbal average
Political Science PhDDuke University162164
Economics PhDGeorge Mason University158160
Psychology PhDUniversity of Michigan160161
Education PhDUniversity of Virginia156160
Engineering PhDGeorgie Tech163155
Statistics PhDStanford University166159
Public Health MPHUCLA159156

What are the GRE Scores for Business School?

To gain entry into a graduate school, you must achieve the required GRE scores for your program of choice. If you intend to take the GRE for admission to a business school, you should know the standard scores needed for admission.

In general, the top business schools require the best GRE scores for admission. The required GRE scores for some of the top business schools are highly competitive just as GMAT scores.

To be competitive for admission to the top business schools, you should aim for higher GRE scores. Doing so will enhance your chances of admission based on the business school’s required standard.

What are the Required GRE Scores for Law School?

Some law schools are currently accepting the GRE in lieu of the LSAT. However, this is not the best option for most postgraduates applying to law schools.

In general, the GRE is considered an inappropriate substitute for the LSAT for applicants that falls into any of the categories below.

  • Applicants who can earn the median LSAT score of their preferred school.
  • Applicants whose preferred schools are among the top 20 law schools and would like their application to be competitive.
  • Those interested in a law school that does not accept the GRE.
  • If you are aiming for a merit scholarship, the GRE is not an appropriate substitute for the LSAT.

If you made the decision to take the GRE in lieu of the LSAT, you should know that majority of the ETS’s GRE to LSAT converter is dismissed by several admissions professionals.

The admissions professionals are mainly interested in the percentiles of your GRE scores in each section.

However, if you decide to apply to a law school with only a GRE score, it may be considered appropriate if you have a reason for it.

Applying to a law school with a GRE score will be considered appropriate if your reasons include;

  • Applying to dual degree programs that require GRE scores.
  • You are not interested to apply to top programs
  • You are not concerned about the effect this decision may have on the selection for merit scholarships.
  • You have taken multiple LSAT practice tests, as well as completed a full LSAT program.

How GRE Score Percentiles are calculated

The GRE general test consists of quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, and analytical writing. GRE general tests can be computer-based or paper-based.

Verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning comprises two sections. Each section in verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning has 20 questions. The difficulty level in the second section is based on an applicant’s performance in the first section.

In general, every question in a section contributes to the score. Depending on the questions you were able to answer correctly within a section, a score will be obtained and then converted into a scaled score. 

The analytical writing section of the computer-based test is reviewed by an experienced reader. The experienced reader will review the two essays and a score on a six-point scale will be received.

Furthermore, the essays will also receive an additional computerised score. The score is obtained from a program developed by ETS. You will be required to analyse an issue and an argument in this section.

You must do this separately for the argument and issue and you have a time of 30 minutes to complete this task. Within the given period, you are required to assess and analyse the given subject and present a reasonable essay.

The GRE test can be taken several times and the scores are valid for up to five years, starting from the date of testing. Additionally, the GRE test can also provide the ScoreSelect option. With the ScoreSelect option, you will be able to decide the scores you want to send to your preferred institution.

What Is a Low GRE Score?

The GRE scores that are considered bad or low are scores that fall around the 25th percentile. For instance, if you achieve a score of 145 in the GRE verbal percentiles or 147 for the quantitative percentiles, you fall in the 25th percentile.

Ranking in the 25th percentile of verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning is considered a low GRE score percentile.

What Is a High GRE Score?

 A high GRE score is competitive for admission to graduate programs and schools. With a good GRE score, you have a better chance of getting into your preferred postgraduate program and university.

So what is a competitive GRE score?

If you achieve a score of 159 in verbal reasoning and a score of 163 in quantitative reasoning, you rank in the 80th percentile in each section. Being in the 80th percentile means you are in the top 20% of test-takers.

Also Read: What Is A Good MCAT Score? | All You Need to Know

How long are GRE Scores Valid?

The GRE test scores are valid for a reasonable amount of time. They are valid for about five years from the date of testing. 

If you took the GRE before the 1st of July 2017, your GRE scores expired in July 2022. Upon the expiration of your GRE scores, ETS will delete your scores and you will be unable to retrieve your GRE scores.

How long can I Wait to Get My GRE Scores?

After 10 to 15 days of completing the GRE, your official GRE scores will be available. For your unofficial GRE scores, they are available in no time. The GRE unofficial scores are available at the test centre, in case you need to report scores after completing your exam.

How long does it take to Send GRE Scores?

Once you have completed the examination, an email notification will be sent to you within 10 to 15 days. The email will contain information confirming that your GRE scores are sent to your preferred schools.

If you decide to submit GRE scores on test day, you have the option to send all GRE scores or your most recent score from the past five years. You can send your GRE scores or most recent scores to four schools for free.


GRE scores are entry requirements for admission to specific programs and graduate schools. The GRE score percentiles are rankings that show competitive applicants among test-takers. 

Ranking in the 80th percentile or above is competitive and considered high GRE scores while ranking in the 25th percentile is considerably low. Percentiles are important when it comes to admission to postgraduate studies and applicants with high GRE scores have a better chance of admission.



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