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The New GRE Point Scale

Update 1/20/2012:

For more information about how other test-takers score on the GRE, check out this article: Average GRE Scores


Update 1/20/2012:

For up-to-date information on your new GRE score, head over to these posts: The New GRE Scoring Scale: Your Updated Scores and New GRE Score Conversion.


Update 9/14/2011:

I’m excited that so many of you have read my point scale post. And I’ve been equally as excited to have been able to answer your questions. However, many of you have been asking questions regarding specific schools – both in the U.S. and Canada – either having to do with the minimum point requirement or the school’s ranking in your respective graduate program. While I would love to be able to answer these questions, they simply fall outside my field of expertise. We have some new posts called What Does My New GRE Score Mean? and What is a Good Score on the Revised GRE? to do my best to answer some common questions.

One final note: Unfortunately, I am not a magic score predictor. Nobody – ETS included – is able to translate your scores at the moment. I was only giving you a rough range; instead, you should look at the percent ranking on the old scale to see where you scored. Whether the range is based on 340 or 3000, ultimately your performance is based on where you score percentile-wise.

If you have a question that deals with the GRE specifically or standardized testing, ask away! I’m sure I’ll be able to give you an answer.


The new GRE scale may seem pretty arbitrary. After all, who has ever been graded on a test from 130 – 170? Not that the 200 – 800 scale was standard, but, still, there was a certain panache when someone could say they got an 800 (getting 170 sounds like you actually didn’t do too well). And, just to clarify, both these scales apply to the verbal section and math section, so, technically, the new GRE is out of 340.

So, why the strange range (pardon the rhyme)? Well, according to ETS, it wanted to stick to three-digits, so the colleges wouldn’t have to overhaul all the textbox entries that call for three digits. Fair enough. And to avoid confusion with the current scoring system, ETS made sure the two score ranges didn’t overlap (had they made the new GRE out of 200, then a person who’d gotten that score on the current GRE would suddenly look a lot smarter if they were to say a few years from now, Hey, I got a 200 on the GRE verbal section).

On the surface, the new GRE scoring range appears to be more limited than the current system. After all, 200 – 800, based on 10-point intervals, allows for only a 61-point spread, compared to the new GRE’s 41-point spread, based on one point intervals. The new GRE makes up for this more limited range by giving more significance to the extreme ends of the scale. For example, on the current GRE, there really isn’t much difference between 730 and 800 on the verbal—they are both at the 99 percentile range. On the new GRE, the difference between 168 and 170 will actually be between 99 percentile and 96 percentile (I’m kind of estimating these numbers, but you get the point).

At the end of the day, you are not going to be tested on these statistical nuances. The important thing to remember is that many colleges base their rankings on a percentile score. Anyway, exactly what is considered “good” on the new GRE has yet to be determined. Coming in November, after enough students have taken a test, there will be a conversion scale between the old GRE and the new GRE.

If you’ve just finished taking the current GRE, and have absolutely no desire to study for the new GRE, don’t despair—your score will be good up until 5 years from the date that you took the actual exam. If, however, you plan to take the new GRE, you can try our GRE Prep product that comes with hundreds of practice questions, video explanations, and video lessons to help you reach your target score.

Additionally, many of you have been asking us for suggestions of specific graduate school programs along with GRE help. 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!

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.