How to calculate and understand GRE scores
Updated on Nov 30, 2016 - 5:07 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti

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.



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Questions related to GRE

Showing 433 out of 433 Questions

how to prepare for GRE? Which foreign countries (colleges) provide a scholarship on the basis of its marks if I want to pursue msc abroad?

lubhan cherwoo 23rd Feb, 2020

Getting a scholarship is more difficult than admission into a university and so you have to stand out of the crowd, details about universities and how to proceed further are mentioned below,

1. Check US News, (Edulix)

2. Go through the eligibility and prerequisites of those universities

3. Find out those Universities which match your profile and interests.

4. Try to apply in the early bird application of universities. (Sometimes applying earlier can enhance your chances to get a scholarship) .

5.Go to the "Financial Aid" section of universities website to know about scholarships.

But a high GRE score may not guarantee you a scholarship but a low GRE will reduce your chances to get one.


hi I always want to crack GRE is that possible

Fareeha 17th Feb, 2020

Hi aspirant!
Yes, you may be able to crack the GRE exam easily with hard work and determination.

Please check the link below which has the much needed information about the exam, pattern and syllabus. Hope it helps. Good luck!


I am a student of galgotias university and my gre score is 310 and having 8+ cgpa in mechanical engineering. I done two intenships one from DRDO and other one from Indian railway. Also i had done two research paper. What are my chances of getting technical university of Munich or Berlin.?

dheeraj reddy 14th Feb, 2020

Hi sajal

As far as CGPA is considered, you meet the minimum requirement stated by both the TUs. Also as you know, for selection, your overall profiles matters. I see you have mentioned 2 research papers. They would add a great value to your application if they are relevant to the Masters you are applying.

GRE is not mandatory for TU Berlin and most of the programs in TUM too.

You would need an IELTS score of minimum 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 88 for clearing language requirements.

You would need German language proficiency of atleast C1 level ( only if you are applying for a course with German taught modules). Also even for english taught programs, having a basic German proficiency of A2 level would greatly help in your application.

For TUM, they might conduct a further aptitude assessment depending on the strength of your application.

Your internships would add value only if they are relevant to your field of study (the Masters you are applying).

Apart from the above mentioned, Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) / Letter of Motivation and Letters of Recommendation would also have a key impact on your application. Make sure you describe well how your past experiences ( internships, research exp, any work exp) and the masters program you are going to undertake would help in your future goals.

I hope I was helpful to you. Remember again , your overall profile matters. Don't be discouraged if you fall short in any one of the aspects.

With research papers, internships, you are already ahead of several applicants. You have a good chance for any Masters degree relevant to Mechanical Engineering. Goodluck!


Sir, I would like to do my masters in biotechnology for that what type of GRE test should I apply I mean like GRE general test or GRE subject test (biology)

Swatika Sharma 24th Jan, 2020

Hello Greeshma,

As you didn't mention anything so I'm expecting you to be an undergraduate or you are pursuing it. First of all, I recommend you choose what you want to accomplish in future: Do you want to do your postgraduate, Abroad or in India itself?

GRE (Graduation Record Examination) is a universally comprehended exam which is supervised by ETS ( Education Testing Services). GRE examination is taken by future aspirants for postgraduate programs in foreign universities and its score are approved in over 160 countries colleges and universities across the world. GRE exam is conducted in two types such as- GRE general test and GRE subject test.

GRE general test is the primary requirements for most of the postgraduate programs in Abroad or in India which consists of verbal perception, analytical writing and quantitative reasoning while GRE subject test is specifically for subjects which you are looking for like biology.

In India, there are very few technical colleges which are accepting GRE scores but for not the same course you are opting for, while there are so many colleges or universities in Abroad which approved or accepted GRE scores.

In my opinion, the GRE general test should be given for admission in Postgraduate programs.  Along with the GRE general test, it's best for you to give the subject test (in biology ) which give extra weightage to your academic record either it's your choice.

Hope its help!!


Graduation in dental surgery(5yr)+3 yr work ex. Masters in hopsital admin(2 yr) + 3 yr of work ex. Wish to pursue PhD in health allied course in USA. Am i eligible to apply also how much GRE score would be required to apply for a good university?

Fareeha 17th Feb, 2020

Hi aspirant!
Yes, you are definitely eligible to pursue PhD from USA.

Kindly look up for edibility criteria for the colleges where you wish to apply. Some colleges do not require GRE scores for admissions in PhD. The criteria differs in each college.

However, you may have to appear for TOEFL/IELTS. Usually scores between 98-120 is accepted in most of the colleges.

Good Luck!

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