Why Your Percentile Rank Matters
Once you've taken the GRE, your score puts you in a percentile rank among all other students who have taken the exam. Grad school admissions officials evaluate this ranking and make decisions based on how your score compares to others.
A general rule of thumb is that a good GRE score is at or slightly above the average score percentile of all test-takers. Knowing how your score compares to other students is key to understanding GRE scoring and what it means for your grad school application.
The following overview gives you a basic understanding of how GRE test score percentiles work, how to compare your score to other students, and how your percentile rank affects your chances of getting into grad school.
How to Determine Percentile Rank
ETS calculates your scaled GRE score in each of the exam's three sections. An official ranking of GRE score percentiles is available on the ETS website, or you can use the chart below.
Once you have your final adjusted score, you can compare it to how other students performed by looking at your percentile rank. Your score will likely be higher than some and lower than others, falling somewhere in the middle.
Most students score in this median range, making up the middle 50% of all results. The average baseline score for students in the 50th percentile looks like this:
- About 151 for Verbal Reasoning
- Roughly 154 in Quantitative Reasoning
- An average of 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section
How do GRE Percentiles Work?
Your GRE percentile rank reflects how your performance on the exam contrasts with other test-takers. GRE percentiles summarize results from all students who took the exam, regardless of their chosen field of study.
Since the pool of scores represents such a broad range of students with different skillsets, how you interpret your percentile rank for each section may vary depending on your academic goals.
GRE Percentiles Chart
Converting Scaled Scores to Percentiles
The following chart lists where your scaled score ranks in both of the exam's multiple-choice sections:
Interpreting Percentile Ranks
What GRE Percentile Do I Need for My Graduate Program?
Some postgrad programs are more selective than others and look for different things when evaluating your GRE score percentile. A strong performance on one part of the exam can overcome a lower score on another section and vice-versa.
The GRE's scoring and percentile ranking system is instrumental when applying for graduate programs that emphasize certain skills over others. For example, the average percentile ranks for students accepted into a few popular postgrad programs are as follows:
- Engineering: Students applying for a postgrad engineering program typically score in the 70th percentile or above on the Quantitative Reasoning section.
- Humanities: For students seeking admission to a graduate-level humanities or arts program, an Analytical Writing score in the top 60th percentile or above is about average.
- Law: Aspiring law students score roughly at or above the 72nd percentile on the Verbal Reasoning portion of the GRE.
GRE Percentile FAQs
What Is a Good GRE Score Percentile?
Success on the GRE can look different depending on your own goals, but comprehensive test preparation is key to getting the scores you need for success. Your choice of school, as well as your intended field of study, play a role in determining what a desirable percentile rank is for your score.
What is the 75th Percentile for the GRE?
Scoring roughly 157 in Quantitative Reasoning, or about 162 on the Verbal Reasoning section, puts you in the 75th percentile.
What is the 95th Percentile for the GRE?
You will need to score at least 165 in Quantitative Reasoning, or a perfect 170 in Verbal Reasoning, to land in the top 5% of students taking the GRE.