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How Many Questions Can I Miss on the GRE and Still Get a Perfect Score?

Even though I am asked this all the time, this is a difficult question to answer, as the computer-based test does not accord exactly with the table of data at the end of the paper-based test PDF. The reason for this is the computer-based test has fewer questions than the paper-based test. Thus, we have to extrapolate a little.

If we look at the end of the paper-based PDF, there is a Score Conversion Table. For Verbal, one can miss at most two questions and still receive a ‘170’. For quantitative, a mere two questions flubbed will drop you to a ‘169.’

I am guessing—though this is just my hunch—that the score table for the computer-based test will reveal the same. After all, the computer-based test is based on a 40-question verbal section and a 40-question math score, whereas the paper-based test has 50 questions each for verbal and quantitative. That is a mere 20% fewer questions, so I don’t think—though I could be wrong—that one can still miss two questions and receive a perfect score.

A legitimate counter to that is there is no ‘168’ on the Verbal section according to the Score Conversion at the end of paper-based PDF. test. Perhaps then, missing two will give you a 169 and missing three will give you a 168 (right now missing three gets you 169).

Of course this level of specificity is moot. Just do your best, and know that on both the verbal and the math section, missing one question will still leave you with a perfect score. And that’s a pretty amazing achievement.

Also, just some advice: don’t get too hung up on perfection :). A very good score will still be good enough to get you into most of the competitive programs you’re probably interested in!

And if you’re still wondering about specifics of the test, check out our Ultimate GRE Guide!


By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

23 Responses to How Many Questions Can I Miss on the GRE and Still Get a Perfect Score?

  1. TigerBeaver June 17, 2016 at 12:07 pm #

    I took the GRE twice:
    1st time: Verbal 168 (36/40) Quant 168 (38/40)
    2nd time: Verbal 169 (36/40) Quant 170 (39/40)

    • Summer July 10, 2016 at 10:39 am #

      What was your study schedule? What books did you use.
      I have the rest about a month ago and managed to score 155 on each section. I was aiming for a 160. Any tips?

  2. rajasekaran June 6, 2016 at 10:37 am #

    hi magoosh team,

    good job,

    i never seen any other prep org. encourages and helps students like you guys. am following everything which you guys keep posting .

    i’ve booked slot for GRE on 13th july 2016, still 35 days to go. right now my scores are too low.

    i took 6 princeton review tests and one ETS, where i scored constatly between

    135 – 145 in verbal, and 153 – 155 in quants. am trying so hard to improve in quants part.

    i still dont understand where i miss

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 6, 2016 at 4:14 pm #

      I’m glad we’ve been able to help you so much, Rajasekaran. It’s very common for students to have trouble knowing exactly what they’re missing or how they can improve their score. The truth is that GRE Quants is a big wide world with many question types that require many different skills. The trick is to carefully assess your own strengths and weaknesses. As you continue to practice over the next 7 weeks, I recommend keeping a “mistake journal.” Make note of the kinds of problems you’re getting wrong in your practice sessions. Double check to see if you can understand why you’re wrong, and why a different answer is correct. Are you making calculation errors? Are there ways you could change your test strategies? Are certain GRE math areas, such as geometry, stats, etc… especially hard for you? As you do this, also make note of your strengths. You can use your stronger quant skills to boost your overall score; build on your strengths while addressing your weaknesses.

  3. jeff January 27, 2016 at 10:30 am #

    Hey Chris, I have taken this test 2 times and have yet to reach 150 in each section. I got a 148 and 149 on math sections. But my verbal has been horrible, receiving a 143 for my best. What should I do, my grad school is reserving a spot for me if I receive a 300 combined score.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 29, 2016 at 3:23 am #

      Hi Jeff,

      Sorry to hear that you’ve been battling your verbal scores! The best way to approach verbal improvement is to work on building your vocabulary, working out winning strategies that will help you overcome the times when you don’t know all the words you need to know, and strategic guessing in the worst situations. To start you off, I recommend the following strategies and tips:

      Shift Words
      If specific parts of the verbal section are your Achilles heel, you can look at our verbal blog posts and explore the strategy recommendations for that specific type.
      Start making an error log! This Economist post has tons of great tips and explains the error log tool quite well.

      I hope that helps get you started! Best luck conquering the verbal section. 🙂

  4. Sauna January 10, 2016 at 7:14 am #

    Is there negative scoring in gre 2016? And what is the minimum score I need to get to do MBA in USA through GRE? please assist me

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 28, 2016 at 4:02 am #

      Hi Sauna!

      There is no negative scoring in the GRE, so the worst that can happen is you earn 0 points for a question–it will not give you any penalty. (Whew!)

      As for MBA programs in the US, you’ll have to do some research and see what programs you want to answer your question. Every program has different entry expectations, and there is not a blanket answer that will tell you everything you want to know, unfortunately. You can get started with this blog post about top business schools and the GRE scores they admit students with, on average. I hope that helps!

  5. Cheryl November 6, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    Well, I only missed 1 level 4 and 1 level 5 in the second section. But my quantity is only 164. It makes me really confused.

  6. Blaine August 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Hey Chris, your content is great.

    Just another data point: for the quant portion, I got 1 wrong out of the first set of 20 and two wrong out of the second set of 20. In total, I missed 3 quant questions and got a 166. Seems a bit punitive to me, since this is not like the GMAT wherein the test is question-adaptive. Breaking the 90% has never seemed so difficult 😉

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele August 6, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Hi Blaine,

      That is pretty punitive! Still not sure exactly how much you were dinged because of the one question wrong in the medium section. A more subtle factor is equating: some tests are not as hard as others. So missing three on an “easier” test could result in a 166, or even lower.

      Thanks though for the data! Still trying to wrap my head around exactly how it works 🙂

  7. Gaurav November 16, 2013 at 6:05 am #

    What is the number of correct responses required to get score of above 160?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele November 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm #

      Hi Gaurav,

      Again, there is no one number. In the case of 160, you could get the medium-level section (and do very well), or get the hard section (and not do very well) and end up with a 160.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Liam November 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Hey Chris,

    Just a data point for you ( I am not sure how this will correlate to the real test). I just took an ets practice test and missed one question in the first section and 3 in the second quant section and it gave me a 164 for Q. Seems pretty harsh for four questions!


    • Judy August 4, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

      Same, I took the GRE ETS practice test, got perfect on the 1st quant section, and missed 4 in the second. I’m assuming the second section was the Hard version. Also got a 164.

      • jason September 13, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

        same here! in the ETS practice test,i got all correct on the first quant set and got 2 wrong and 2 unanswered ( so 4 incorrect in all) in the second quant.

        Still cannot figure out why i got 164.

        Can anyone please explain???

  9. vsn September 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Hi Chris,
    What about on the math portion? How many can one miss and still get a 170? or 169….166?

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele September 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

      Hi Vsn,

      It depends on the test, to some extent. Meaning that some tests have harder questions, and your score is not just a function of how many questions you get right. In other words, there is a ceiling on some tests of 169 or so. Other tests you may still be able to get one wrong and get 170. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly how it works at this high end since we are still collecting data. Sorry, I couldn’t give you a more direct answer :).

  10. emma May 22, 2013 at 4:23 am #

    Hey Chris!

    I recently took a test from Powerprep II. Although in 1st Quant section, I could solve all questions correctly, second section I struggled doing most. My final score was 150 🙁

    Wonder, how are these assessed? CAn you give me an idea about it??


  11. Parul October 27, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    I took the PowerPrep II test and received the following scores:

    Verbal: 670-770
    Quantitative: 750-800

    The section-wise scores were:
    Verbal 1: 19/20
    Math 1: 20/20
    Verbal 2: 12/20
    Math 2: 19/20

    I am slightly confused about the Math score. The given scaled score (750-800) translates to 159-166 on the new range according to the concordance table. These scores seem quite low considering the fact that I got only one question wrong out of the 40.
    Any clarifications will be very helpful! Thanks!

  12. Santoshkalyan October 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Thanks Chris. I have mine coming on next saturday..

    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 15, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

      Good luck, Santosh! Let me know if you have any last minute questions :).

      • Walter October 15, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

        Hey Chris, I took a practice test and I got only 1 wrong in the math sections and I still got 167 according to the Magoosh software 🙁

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