Understanding GRE Scores: 
For graduate students planning to enroll at graduate or business schools abroad, GRE General Test is an obvious choice as it is accepted by thousands of graduate and business schools around the world. Many prospective graduate students also take the GRE Subject Tests, which measure a student’s grasp of a specific field of study. But whether you opt for GRE Test (General Test or Subject Tests), being conversant with the scoring pattern of GRE will help you better understand your performance and your overall standing among test takers.


GRE uses an intricate but efficient methodology to produce GRE scores, a process that includes converting raw score into scaled score so that scores of different test editions can be effectively compared. In this article, we have tried to explain the different concepts on how to understand GRE scores and how to calculate GRE scores in layman terms.


Understanding GRE Scores: Test Content and Pattern


Before we get deep into how GRE scores are generated, lets glance through the GRE test pattern and content of the two GRE Tests: a) GRE General Test b) GRE Subject Tests


A. GRE General Test:


The GRE General Test is made up of three test sections or measures: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning and Analytical Reasoning.


The GRE is held in computer-delivered formats in almost 1,000 GRE test centers in over 160 countries, including the USA, UK and Germany. There is also a paper-delivered version of the general test for areas where computer-delivered testing is not available. The content structures for the two formats are also set accordingly and so is the manner how GRE scores are generated.


Computer-delivered GRE General Test


The total testing time for the computer-delivered test is around three hours and 45 minutes. The test comprises six sections with a 10-minute break after the third section.


Number of Questions

Allotted Time

GRE Analytical Writing

(One section with two separately timed tasks)

One "Analyze an Issue" task and one "Analyze an Argument" task

30 minutes per task

GRE Verbal Reasoning

(Two sections)

20 questions per section

30 minutes per section

GRE Quantitative Reasoning

(Two sections)

20 questions per section

35 minutes per section


Paper-delivered GRE General Test


The paper-delivered version of the GRE General test comprises six sections and has an overall testing time of about three hours and 45 minutes. There is a break of 10 minutes after the third round.


Number of Questions

Allotted Time

GRE Analytical Writing

(Two sections)

Section 1:"Analyze an Issue" task

Section 2: "Analyze an Argument" task

30 minutes per task

GRE Verbal Reasoning

(Two sections)

25 questions per section

35 minutes per section

GRE Quantitative Reasoning

(Two sections)

25 questions per section

40 minutes per section


B. GRE Subject Tests


The GRE Subject Test, which tests your knowledge of a particular field, is held across seven disciplines: Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology; Biology; Chemistry; Literature in English; Mathematics; Physics; and Psychology.


The total testing time of the subject tests is 2 hours and 50 minutes. Unlike computer-delivered GRE General Test, the subject tests don’t include any separately timed sections.

The GRE subject tests are held in paper-delivered formats three times a year: September, October, and April


Each of the GRE subject tests has a different number of multiple-choice questions, like while the Biology test consists of around 170 questions, Chemistry has 130 questions. Also, the content is organized into major areas or subfields, like in case of Biology content is organized into three areas: cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology, and ecology and evolution.


Along with a total GRE score for a subject test, subscores are reported for each of the subfields.


How is your GRE test score calculated?


A. GRE General Test-

Scores reported on the GRE General Test: Key to understanding GRE scores (General)is to realize that three GRE scores are reported for the test.


Score Scale

Verbal Reasoning

130–170, in 1 point increments

Quantitative Reasoning

130–170, in 1 point increments

Analytical Writing

0–6, in half point increments

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections of the GRE General Test have a GRE score range of 130 to 170, with 1-point increments. For example, you can have scores like 131, 132, 142, etc., but not 131.5, 140.3, etc.


Analytical Writing has a GRE score range of 0 to 6, in half-point increments, like 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc. In such cases where you don’t answer at least one question within a measure, you will get an NS (No Score) report for that measure.


The GRE Test scores are generally valid for five years from your GRE test administration date.


Understanding GRE Scores: Sample Report



Understanding GRE Scores (General Test): Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Sections

  • Computer adaptive: For the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures, your GRE score depends on the number of questions given and correct answers you manage in the allotted time. The computer-delivered Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning measures are section-level adaptive, meaning the type of questions you get in the second section will be decided based on your performance in the first section. All questions within a section are of equal rank and contribute equally to the final score.

  • GRE raw and scaled score: A raw score, which is the number of questions answered correctly, is computed for each of the two measures. Through a process called equating, the raw score then is converted to a scaled score. The equating process is done to account for minor variations in difficulty that inherently exists between test editions, as well those introduced by the section-level adaption in ‘individual’ tests. The scaled GRE score for a particular measure thus reflects an equivalent level performance irrespective of when the test was taken and which second section the candidate took.

Interpreting GRE Scores (General Test): Analytical Writing Sections

  • Computer-delivered essay evaluation: Each essay in the Analytical Writing section of a computer-delivered GRE General Test is first evaluated by a trained reader, on what is called a six-point holistic scale. Holistic here means that an essay will be scored based on its overall quality. In the next step, the essay is scored by an e-rater scoring engine, a scoring engine developed by ETS. If the two GRE scores (General), one by the human and the other by the engine, are close to each other, the final GRE score is the average of the two scores. However, if the two GRE scores show significant variations, the e-rater score is ignored and a second human score is obtained. The final score then is the average of the two human scores.

  • Paper-delivered essay evaluation: For the paper-delivered test, each essay is evaluated by two trained readers and the average is the final score. In such cases where the variation between the two scores exceeds one point on the scale, a third reader adjudicates the discrepancy.

  • Single Analytical Score: The average of the two essays is then obtained and rounded to produce a single Analytical Writing GRE score which is reported on a 0 to 6 point scale, in half-point increments.

  • If a candidate attempts only one essay, the GRE score for the un-attempted essay will be taken as zero.

The scoring for Analytical Writing section is meant to judge your critical thinking and analytical writing skills, and not so much your grammatical prowess.


GRE Score Guide for Issue and Argument tasks of Analytical Writing Section












Seriously Flawed


Fundamentally Deficient


Off-topic response


The essay response is blank

B. GRE Subject Tests Scoring process-

GRE Subject Tests are offered at paper-delivered test centers typically three times a year. The scoring involves two steps.

  1. Raw GRE score for Subject Tests is obtained by subtracting one-fourth the number of questions answered incorrectly from the number of questions answered correctly. The raw score thus obtained is a formula score and adopted to discourage guesswork.

  2. The raw (or formula) GRE score is then converted to a scaled score through the equating process, which accounts for variations in difficulty levels across different test editions.

Scale of GRE Subject Test scores

  • The total score of GRE Subject Tests is in the range of 200 to 990, in 10-point increments.

  • In addition, subfields yield subscores. For example, Biochemistry Cell, and Molecular Biology; Biology; and Psychology; yield subscores on a 20 to 99 score scale, in one-point increments.

Subscores help identify strength and weaknesses and may be used for guidance and placement purposes.


Percentile Rank

For each GRE score, a corresponding percentile rank is also reported. The percentile rank for a score is the percentage of examinees that took the test within a recent time period and received a lower GRE score. To paraphrase it, it indicates the percentage of test takers scoring lower than your scaled score.


Verbal Reasoning Concordance Table


Quantitative Reasoning Concordance Table


Other details about the GRE Test

There are no GRE Test dates or specific GRE eligibility criteria as such. But considering it is a graduate admissions test, it is normally taken by applicants who have completed their graduation.

GRE Test is today gaining popularity among MBA aspirants, and it is because more and more business schools are accepting GRE scores as an alternative to GMAT scores.


Also, the GRE General Test is the same test as the GRE revised General Test that was held earlier, and it is only the name that has been changed.



Stay tuned to www.studyabroad.careers360.com for more news and updates on Australia

Applications Open Now

Bennett University Admissions 2020
Bennett University Admissions...
Masters' Union School of Business
Masters' Union School of Busi...
Manipal ICAS Admissions 2020
Manipal ICAS Admissions 2020
Bennett University 30 May B.Tech Last date
Bennett University 30 May B.T...
Chitkara University Admissions 2020
Chitkara University Admission...
UPES B.Tech - 30 JUNE UPESEAT Last date
View All Application Forms

Popular Degrees

3952 Colleges
36 Colleges
79 Colleges
635 Colleges
36 Colleges

Latest Articles

Questions related to GRE

Showing 445 out of 445 Questions

Im interested to do BBA in canada.Is it necessary to attempt GRE ?

Ketaki Dhotre Student Expert 18th May, 2020


Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) is a 4-year full time undergraduate course. To study in Canada, you must have qualified their secondary level education or equivalent to pursue this course.Basic Requirement is :IELTS- 6.5, TOEFL- 88, CAEL- 70 and PTE- 65In Canada, GRE is required for master's level admission, and some universities and programs may need a good score in the test too.

As you intend to study business, you don't require appearing for GRE exam.

Hope this helps!


If I want to go to uk, canada or usa to pursue higher studies, which exam should i give? GMAT,GRE,SAT,ACT, TOEFL OR IELTS? Also, please give me a comparisons between these exams

Anantika Kushwaha 30th Apr, 2020

Hello Aspirant,

The type of exam should you give depends on the University you're looking for and also the course.

SAT or ACT is basically for Undergraduate courses while GRE and GMAT is for Postgraduate courses. TOEFL and IELTS are basically English Proficiency tests. They are given by the candidates whose native language is not English, it too varies according to the university. Every university has it's different criteria but if you're looking for Undergraduate course then you should give SAT as it is accepted by many universities and the language exam based on what the university is accepting.


LPU is not AICTE Approved neither a Demmed University ? I know its UGC Approved but , Will it cause problem in Higher studies Abroad and in India (GRE/GMAT/GATE) or problems in Off Campus Placement and Company Switching ? Please Give Correct Answer !!!! DO NOT GIVE LPU WEBSITE NOT HAVING AICTEREASON

Dharamveer Dheer 6th May, 2020

Lets go point by point:

1. Universities DO NOT need AICTE approvals, as AICTE is not the regulatory authority for Universities.

2. LPU is a full fledged PRIVATE University established u/s 2F of UGC act. Deemed universities are those which run only one branch of courses and are not given FULL university status by UGC.

3. For higher studies abroad: LPU itself has tie ups with over 200 top universities world over. secondly, most universities abroad take the scores of GRE/GMAT/GATE etc, there are thousands of LPU students world over who have passed these examinations and are either studying abroad or have completed their studies.

4. Higher studies in India: All the LPU courses are recognized by all the universities in India for qualifying examination purpose due to UGC recognition.

5. Placements: LPU has one of the biggest and most elaborate placement process for thousands of its students in all the programs and more than 600 companies visit the campus for recruitment offering lucrative offers. Going to company switching later on, the skills attained in LPU act as catalyst in your career. Most of the technologies being taught in LPU improve your efficiency by leaps and bounds.

Hope this solves all the points.



How to shortlist the universities that matches your profile and is it advisable to apply with the low GRE score if GPA is satisfactory?

Anantika Kushwaha 13th Apr, 2020
Hello Aspirant,

Try searching for the top universities and apply for them. If your GRE score is low but above the required score then a strong LOR of SOP may compensate for it. While selecting the candidates GRE is not the only criterion taken into account.

I want to pursue a PhD from english- speaking country. So do I need to take IELTS and GRE both?

Suvakanta Sahu 8th Apr, 2020

Dear Akira a,

As per your query there is no need to go for both ,You can choose any of one Where you should good score .You can either GRE or IELTS or TOFEL .Score is much more important So as per my suggest please focus in one .


Related E-books and Sample Papers

The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

Download the Careers360 App on your Android phone

Regular exam updates, QnA, Predictors, College Applications & E-books now on your Mobile

Careers360 App
150M+ Students
24,000+ Colleges
500+ Exams
1500+ E-books