The scores for the new GRE are finally here! In fact, they arrived a week early. That’s good news for those eager to submit their applications to their respective schools. For those hoping to know what the cutoff scores are for a given university, you have come to wrong place. Nobody knows the answer to that question. Most universities, I am sure, are unaware of exactly what the score cutoffs will be (we will have to wait until the U.S. News grad school ranking issue comes out).
In this post, I will address how the new scale varies from the old one (besides the obvious difference in score range). Were there any real surprises? Well, read on to find out.
Not as much asymmetry
On the old scale, a perfect 800 on the math worked out to 94%. A 730 on the verbal equated to a 99%. A 94% on the verbal side of things meant a measly 660 points. That’s nearly 140 points off.
Why is that such a big deal, besides being kind of weird?
Well, at the upper end of the scale for quant, it was difficult to determine who the top students were; after all, a 94% was the exact same thing as a 99%. For a program that stresses math skills, this could be a very significant ambiguity.
Luckily, ETS has fixed this discrepancy. Now, the perfect math score has become far more difficult to get, and the perfect verbal score has actually become easier to get.
How do things actually look now?
If you received a 750-800, you could have ended up with anywhere from 159 – 170. I know it sounds like asymmetry all over again, but remember – the only reason why this range is so vast is because the previous scale was skewed in one direction.
For example, an 800 math score equates to a 166. On the lower side of the scale, quant-wise, we have some other curious point conversions. For instance, a 350, 360, and a 370 all equate to 138. These three scores for one point are indeed common on the lower end of the scale.
Of course, I could go on to account for all quirks in the scoring range…but, that would make this post run far longer than necessary. Instead, click on this link:
On the verbal side of the fence, the logic has been flipped – a perfect score on the old verbal section, which was so difficult to attain, is now far less of an Olympian feat. An old 760 can now land you a perfect score. And, on the low end of the scale, each point value matches up with a 10-point increment from the old scale (e.g. 138 = 300).
What does this all mean?
Always look at your percentile ranking. That is, when you receive a score report, you will also receive a number indicating the percent of people you scored better than (on the chart above, look to the right of the score for the percentile rank).
If you score in the top 90% in both math and verbal, then you are a competitive candidate. Period. Less competitive schools may only require 50%. So, look at your percentile rankings. Remember that, because this new scoring scale is so new, universities will take a while to adjust to it. No one has all the answers.
But, if you scored below 30% in any section, then you may want to seriously consider taking the test again. Doing so is by no means the end of the world. On the old scale, I had a student go from the upper 800s to near 1400. Hard work can make all the difference. So, get started now!
Also, many of you have been asking us for suggestions of specific graduate school programs along with GRE help. GradSchools.com is a great resource that we recommend: you can search for schools by region, state, and city according to which program you’re interested in.
We hope that helps a lot of you who many be feeling a little overwhelmed by the process of choosing schools and submitting applications. We wish you the best of luck!