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What Does My New GRE Score Mean?

This is probably the most frequently asked question on the Magoosh GRE Blog. I’m not surprised; ETS has given us nebulous guidelines as to how the old and new scores are going to match up, and a similarly nebulous score range that, for many, can mean the difference between acceptance to a competitive program and a second-tier one.

For now, we know the old scoring range, i.e. the one you received if you’ve taken the Revised GRE, will be equated with the new scoring range 130 – 170. Where it gets nebulous is trying to figure out exactly how a specific score translates from the old range to the new range. For instance, if I get a 167, is that the same as a 740 or a 780, or somewhere in between?

Another common question I get pertains to a specific school: will University X accept me with my current score? On one level, I’m flattered that people have conferred upon me an omniscience that I simply do not possess. Indeed, even University X is probably unsure at this point exactly what it will set as a cutoff on GRE scores, if, indeed, there is any cutoff.  For now, everybody will have to wait until November for ETS to figure out the conversion from the 200 – 800 range to the 130 – 170 range.

That doesn’t mean you are left totally in the dark. Check out U.S. News and Reports grad school survey. Sometimes, the program you are hoping to enter will be listed, along with a 25% – 75% quartile ranking, based on the old range, of the GRE scores of students who were admitted.

Because the old range still applies, you can get a sense of your chances of gaining admission to University X. So, if you take the Revised GRE, and your score ranges for both math and verbal are between 300-400, then that doesn’t bode well (nor does it necessarily preclude admission). However, if you score 300-400 on Verbal, and 700-800 on Quantitative, then your scores will probably be in the range I mentioned above. Again, this score wouldn’t guarantee admission. After all, if you are looking to get a Ph.D. in English, then such a score would probably preclude admission.

In regards to your new GRE score and acceptance to a university, I have no crystal ball, and even the universities themselves are most likely uncertain how everything is going to work out in the end. For now, we’ll have to wait for ETS to figure it all out. Meanwhile, work on creating the strongest application possible: having strong letters of recommendation and a persuasive, compelling essay are two things you can control.

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4 Responses to What Does My New GRE Score Mean?

  1. Roy May 22, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I am trying to figure out what my composite percentile is on the revised GRE. I’ve not seen any actual composite percentiles on the old or new version on the GRE website, but some schools ask for it. I have found some threads to use some method based on distributions provided by GRE to compute the old score to a percentile as listed below. I suppose I could use the score conversion 157Q = 730 77%, 163V = 650 93%. 730 + 650 = 1380. Based on the composite percentiles below that would put me somewhere around 96% overall. I understand most people do better on one section than the other which results in a higher overall percentage, but the I’m skeptical of the numbers below since GRE doesn’t provide them and suggests looking at only the relevant section percentile. I’m hoping that my overall score strength might offset my mediocre Q scores for engineering/science departments for PH.D. programs.

    1100 = 61%
    1150 = 70%
    1200 = 79%
    1250 = 85%
    1300 = 91%
    1350 = 95%
    1400 = 97%
    1450 = 98%
    1500+ = 99%

    • Chris Lele
      Chris May 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

      Hi Roy,

      I think it really depends on the program: perhaps some will look at the raw composite score. My hunch is–and GRE’s admonition backs it up–most schools will look at each score independently.

      The truth is most Engineering/science programs are going to be focused highly on the Q. At the same time, Ph.D. programs do look favorably upon high verbal scores (as usually a fair amount of writing is entailed).

      Hopefully that helps :).

  2. Amir October 7, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    Helpful and a very different post…


    • Chris Lele
      Chris October 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      Great thanks! Happy it was helpful!

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