Hello Everyone! Latest (May 22nd 2017) updates from ETS on GRE scores and corresponding percentiles for Verbal and Quant are now included in the article. We have also added GRE score percentiles for Analytical Writing Section to help you in a much more comprehensive fashion.
Along with the GRE scores, the ETS also provides percentile ranks on the score report. These GRE score percentile ranks are used to compare the relative performance of examinees. GRE score percentiles are nothing but a number which measures your performance with other test takers. The percentile ranks are based on scores of previous test takers within a three-year period
For instance, if you have a 50 percentile ranking on your composite score, it means that you have scored better than 50% of the students. Needless to say, higher the percentile the better your chances for admission to the top graduate colleges. GRE score percentiles are a great measure of your test performance. The 130-170 scale confuses many test takers and percentiles seem a more logical way to understand test performance.
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The ETS publishes a chart with scores and percentile rankings for verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. For instance if you have scored a 170 in quantitative and verbal, your percentile is 98 and 99 respectively. The corresponding percentile numbers for a score of 150 is 40 and 45 respectively.
GRE Score Percentiles 2016-17
Verbal GRE Score Percentiles
Quant GRE Score Percentiles
Analytical Writing GRE Score Percentiles
By looking at these numbers, you can easily see that the GRE score percentiles vary for the quant and verbal sections. For instance, a perfect score of 170 in quant and verbal sections correspond to 98th GRE percentile and 99th GRE percentile respectively. This implies that more people tend to score 170 on quant than in verbal. So, the fight for the GRE percentile ranks is a lot tighter in the quantitative section than the verbal section.
Also, if you focus your attention towards the centre of the table – the average GRE scores – you will see that even a difference of a few points leads to a massive difference in GRE percentiles. For instance, if you score a 150 in verbal, your GRE percentile score would be only 45. But score just 6 points more, and your GRE percentile score shoots to 71! Same is the case with quant where a GRE score of 150 corresponds to a GRE percentile score of 40 whereas a score of 155 significantly improves your GRE percentile score to 60.
Of course, such a massive variance is seen only in the middle of the GRE score table. Towards the top and the bottom, the scoring scale tends to be fairly even. Obviously, this means there is more of a squeeze at the top and you really have to score well to get a great GRE percentile rank.
GRE score percentiles are the perfect way to measure a diverse range of test takers. That being said, these percentile scores vary according to the program. Needless to say, those aiming for a quantitative program need to get a good percentile score in quant whereas those shooting for a humanities program might be better served with a good verbal percentile score. Moreover, the percentile scores matter for the more competitive programs in the top-ranked schools. A top program will demand a good percentile score in the top range of the table. For a more obscure program, a GRE percentile score of even 80 might help you to make the cut.
If you are unsure about your chances, your best bet is trying to score above the average score range for your target schools. You need to understand that GRE score percentiles are just one of the factors in graduate admissions. Applicants should try and gauge their own performance according to the chart listed above. Based on that assessment and discussions with peers in our study groups, you can get a more accurate representation of where you stand in the admissions process.GRE score percentiles help you understand where you stand among your peers in the admission process. For good schools, the GRE score percentiles tend to be extremely high. In programs such as engineering, you will need a higher GRE percentile in the quant section. Similarly, scores required for Harvard, scores required for Stanford and scores required for MIT all range above 320. Percentile requirements vary widely according to schools and programs.
You can access the entire score and GRE percentile conversion chart here