GRE Scoring: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

GRE Scoring

Students who want to apply to graduate school understand that getting a good score on the GRE exam is a critical factor in the admission process. Understanding how the GRE is scored will help you better prepare and get that high score you need.

To help you better understand the GRE scoring process, here are five fast facts you need know:

1. There Is No Total Combined Score For The GRE Revised General Test

The GRE revised general test has three subject areas: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. Unlike other tests where you have a combined score, the GRE gives you one score for each of the three sections.

For the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the exam, scores for each section range from 130 to 170. For the Analytical Writing section your score is based on a scale of zero to six at half point increments.

2. Test Questions Become More or Less Difficult Based On How You Answered the Previous Section

Your test actually can change to become more or less difficult during the exam depending on how you perform on each section. This process is called adaptive testing.

Prior to August 2011, the question difficulty would change not based on how you performed on each section but how you answered previous questions.

It’s important to know that questions within each section are of random difficulty. That means questions are no more likely to be easy or difficult based on the last question.

Test makers believe this adaptive approach will help better determine how well you do on the test by getting to questions which suit your aptitude quicker.

For you the test taker, just focus on doing well right out of the gate on the first section to give yourself the best opportunity for a high score.

3. The Analytical Writing Section Is Scored Two Different Ways

Unlike the other two sections of the GRE test, the Analytical Writing section is scored on a scale of zero to six at half point increments. While this section of the exam is more subjective, the test makers try to make scoring more consistent by having a trained reader score your section first, then have the section scored a second time by a computerized e-rater.

The two scores are then compared and if they are identical, or close to identical, the human score is used.

Note that on the paper version of the test, the essay is scored by two trained readers without the use of a computerized e-rater.

4. There Are Three Different Ways to Get Your GRE Scores

Once you’ve completed the computer-delivered GRE exam, you will be given the opportunity to report or cancel your scores. If you choose to report your scores, you will see your unofficial scores for the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning sections right there at the test center.

Since the Quantitative Writing section scoring is done differently, those scores are not available to view right away.

You will then receive an email notification about ten to fifteen days after your test date from ETS with your official test scores. You can see those scores by setting up a My GRE Account. Instructions will be provided once you receive your official scores.

If for some reason you cannot create an account online, you can call 1-609-771-7290 toll free and pay $12 to get your score by phone.

For paper delivered tests, your official scores will also be available in My GRE Account, and your scores will be sent to the score recipients you designate on the exam.

5. Scores Are Valid For Five Years

The Revised GRE test scores are cumulative and reportable for five years after the testing year in which you tested (July 1 – June 30).

Since scores on your GRE are actually one of the six factors that graduate schools look at in regards to applicants, ETS will retain your test scores because it knows that not everyone immediately applies to graduate school right after taking the test.