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How GRE Scaled Scores and Percentile Rank are Determined

Every GRE test taker is awarded three scaled scores, one for each of the exam's three different measures:

  • a Quantitative Reasoning score (on a 130-170 scale, in 1-point increments)
  • a Verbal Reasoning score (on a 130-170 scale, in 1-point increments)
  • an Analytical Writing score (on a 0-6 scale, in half-point increments)

The 130-170 scale is new for the GRE revised General Test. For GRE exams administered before August 2011, the scale was 200-800 (in 10-point increments). Scores on the 200-800 scale convert reliably to the current (130-170) scale.

For each scaled score every test taker is also awarded a corresponding percentile rank. This page explains how GRE scaled scores and percentile rank are determined.

Scaled Quantitative and Verbal Scores

Determining scaled scores for the computer-based Quantitative and Verbal sections is not simply a matter of tallying up correct responses. For each of these two measures, a test taker's scaled score is determined by the total number of correct answers and by the overall difficulty level of the questions presented.

The computer-based GRE is section adaptive. This means that the test adapts to a test taker's individual ability, but only at the section level. For every test taker, the overall difficulty level of the first scored Verbal (or Quantitative) section will be average. The testing system will select the second such section based on a test taker's performance on the first section.

For example, if a test taker performs better than average on the first scored Verbal section, then the second such section will be more difficult than average and the test taker can earn greater credit for correct responses. By the same token, if a test taker performs poorly on the first Quantitative section, then the second such section will be appropriately low in overall difficulty and the test taker's scaled score will account for that easier level.

NOTE: For the paper-based test, scaled Verbal and Quantitative scores are determined by converting a test taker's raw scores (the total number of correct responses) to the 130-170 scale through an "equating" process that accounts for variations among different editions of the paper-based exam.

The Scaled Score for the Analytical Writing Measure

Every GRE essay undergoes an holistic evaluation by trained GRE readers. You'll receive a single Analytical Writing score for both of your GRE essays. In four steps, here's how that score is determined:

  1. Each of your essays is graded, on a scale of 0-6, by two GRE readers.

  2. For each essay, if the two grades differ by more than one point, then a third, very experienced reader reads the essay and adjudicates the discrepancy.

  3. Your final grade for each essay is the average of two grades (or the adjudicated grade).

  4. Your final Analytical Writing score is the average of two final grades — one for each of your two essays — rounded up to the nearest half-point.

NOTE: In addition to undergoing evaluation and scoring by GRE readers, all GRE essays are examined by a computer application described by ETS as "essay similarity detection" software.

Test-taker Response Required for Score Tabulation

For each Verbal and Quantitative section, the testing system will tabulate a score regardless of the number of available questions you've answered, except that if you don't respond to at least one question during a section an "NS" (no score) will appear on your score report for that section only.

For either of the two writing tasks, if you fail to key in (type) at least one character using the word processor, you'll automatically receive a score of 0 (on a scale of 0 to 6) for that writing task, and that score of 0 will be averaged with your score for the other essay to determine your Analytical Writing score.

GRE Percentile Rankings

For each of your three GRE scaled scores you'll also receive a corresponding percentile rank — from 0 to 99 percent. Your percentile rank indicates how you performed relative to the entire GRE test-taking population during a recent multi-year period. For example, a percentile rank of 70% means that you scored higher than 70% (and lower than 30%) of all other GRE test takers over that multi-year period.