In this post, we’re going to focus on Princeton: the ideal Princeton GRE scores, and the range of scores you need to score Princeton acceptance.
All updated with the latest information for 2016.
Why Princeton? Well….
….Not many schools’ names have become so synonymous with prestige that mere the utterance of their name elicits great awe and wonder from outsiders. Princeton, the fourth oldest college in the United States, is doubtlessly one of those awe-inspirers. They consistently place at the top of graduate program rankings across the board. But joining the elite group of Princeton alumni is by no means a walk in the park, especially for graduate level programs. If you want to get into Princeton, you’re going to need to be the cream of the crop. And naturally one of the factors of your application is going to be the GRE.
Below I’ve outlined the GRE scores that will put on solid footing if you are applying to this very prestigious school.
The right Princeton score, according to U.S. News & World Report 2016 and ETS
U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges List is one of the most of the most trusted rankings of American universities. And they have a page just for Princeton. They also have detailed data on the Princeton score range for the GRE… although they charge money for that more in-depth information. ETS is the official maker of the GRE tests, and has the best data on average GRE scores by major. To estimated the scores you need to get in to Princeton’s various grad schools, we’ll use both of these sources.
So we’re going to use these two sources to estimate our score ranges for popular Princeton grad programs. To give one example, here are the estimated numbers for Pearson’s grad program in Engineering:
|Program||U.S News Ranking||Average Verbal GRE||Average Quantitative GRE|
To get the score Princeton likely views as average for Engineering majors, you’ll want a verbal score in the 90th percentile and a Quantitative score in the 91st.
Estimating Princeton GRE scores in other disciplines
Below is a list of estimated average score ranges you could expect from Princeton’s ranked programs. For more on the methodology behind the numbers, see Methodology.
|Program||US News Rank 2016||Average GRE Verbal Range||Average GRE Quantitative Range|
|Biological Sciences||9 out of 261||165-169||165-169|
|Chemistry||15 out of 205||162-166||166-170|
|Computer Science||8 out of 176||162-166||165-170|
|Earth Sciences||11 out of 123||162-166||162-166|
|Economics||1 out of 132||166-170||166-170|
|English||4 out of 156||167-170||166-170|
|Public Affairs||4 out of 272||165-170||166-170|
|History||1 out of 147||166-170||165-170|
|Mathematics||1 out of 173||166-170||166-170|
|Physics||2 out of 178||166-170||170|
|Political Science||2 out of 119||166-170||166-170|
|Psychology||7 out of 246||163-167||166-170|
|Sociology||1 out of 117||166-170||166-170|
To see where those scores fall, check out the GRE percentile rankings.
What these Princeton score numbers mean
The GRE score ranges in the chart above represent your ideal target score for getting into Princeton, assuming your GRE score ends up being the deciding factor for your acceptance. That being said, GRE scores are not always the deciding factor in an application to Princeton, or to any other school. If your GRE score is below the average score ranges in this post but other aspects of your application are very strong, you may still be able to get into Princeton.
Resources to get the GRE score Princeton wants to see
Check out the following links for more help in prepping for the GRE and reaching your target Princeton score:
Methodology for Determining Princeton GRE Scores
These average score ranges all come down to percentile— Princeton’s percentile ranks for their gradutate programs (according to US News & World Report), and percentiles for average GRE scores by major (according to ETS).
To calculate the percentile rank for different graduate programs at Princeton, I had to take a few different steps. I’ll give you examples of these steps for Princeton’s graduate English program.
As indicated by U.S. News and World Report, Princeton’s English grad program ranks # 4 out of all the programs on their list. The total number of graduate English programs on US News & World Report’s list is 156. This means that 152 out of 156 English graduate programs rank lower than Princeton’s English program. 152/156 equals approximately 0.97. This puts Princeton’s graduate English program in the 97th percentile in terms of rank.
To get an estimate of the average GRE scores for Princeton’s English students, I then looked at the corresponding 97th percentile score for English majors in ETS’s PDF list of average GRE scores by major. The GRE scores for English majors are on the bottom half of page 2 of the PDF, appearing as the fourth item in the green-shaded “Arts and Humanities” section.
On that page, notice that the top 1.9% of English majors got a 170 on GRE Verbal. We’ll round that segment up to 2% and say that graduate English majors who get a 170 fall into the top 2 percentiles of scores– the 98th and 99th percentiles.
Princeton graduate English students would fall just below that top 2% range. This places them somewhere in the next score range on the chart— the 165-169 score range for GRE Verbal. As you’ll see in the PDF, 11.9% of graduate English students fall in this range. Round this up to 12%, and this range represents the 12 percentiles that are immediately below the 98th and 99th percentiles. So the 165-169 score range represents the 86th through 97th percentiles. Since the 97th percentile is at the very top of this range, it will correspond to the range’s top score, 169. So we can estimate that Princeton English grad students have an average GRE Verbal score of 169.
To get the average score range itself, I included the five numbers that surround each average score on the GRE score scale. 169 is close to the top, with just one number above it– a perfect score of 170. So in the average GRE score range for English graduate students, I included 170 and the three numbers below 169, for a range of 166-170. (With this system, an average score of 170 also has a range of 166-170.)
Sometimes the percentile GRE score that corresponds to the percentile rank isn’t clearly at the cutoff for a score range on ETS’s chart. In those cases, I took an additional step in calculating the average score and the range around it.
This can be seen for the average Quants scores of Chemistry grad students at Princeton. Princeton’s Chemistry graduate program is ranked number 15 out of 205 grad-level chemistry programs. This puts it in the 93rd percentile. On page 1 of the ETS chart, under Physical Sciences, you can see that 4.5% of chemistry majors got a 170 in Quants. This represents the 95th through 99th percentiles. An additional 13.4% of chemistry graduate students fall in the 165-169 range. This can be rounded down to 13%, to represent the 82nd to 94th percentiles.
To get the 93rd percentile, I divided the five points in the score range by 13, to get 0.38. The 93rd percentile is the 12th increment in this 13-increment range. So to figure out the 93rd percentile GRE score for chemistry majors, I then multiplied 0.38 by 12 to get 4.56. 4.56 out of 5 in this particular 5-point score range is 168.56. This rounds up to 169. So we can estimate that Princeton’s chemistry grad students get an average GRE Quants score of 169. And again, this gives us an estimated average score range of 166-170.
In some cases, the average score was at a cutoff for two numbers. For example, the average GRE Verbal score for graduate Public Affairs majors at Princeton is at the 169-170 cutoff. In cases like this, I included the four numbers surrounding both of the numbers in the cutoff. This gave Public Affairs an average score range of 165-170.
I ran all the numbers with the method above, so you don’t have to. 🙂 But if you want to, you can use this methodology to estimate the average GRE scores for other programs that are listed in the U.S. News and World Report graduate school rankings. Neat, huh?
Bear in mind, of course, that this is just intended to give you a general idea of the scores you should be aiming for. Admissions is not an exact science.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.