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How to Get a Perfect GRE Score

perfect gre score

For some, achieving the impossible is scaling Mt. Everest. For others, it is bowling a 300. And for an even more select group, it is getting a perfect GRE score.

170 + 170 = 340

Perfect GRE Verbal score + Perfect GRE Math score = Perfect GRE Score

If you’re really shooting for the stars, a perfect 6 on the AWA essays should be on your list, too.

But who achieves such scores, and is it possible for anyone? That’s an interesting question, one that I hope to answer – if there really is an answer – in this post. First off, let’s explore who scores a perfect (or at least close) on the GRE.

Who is most likely to get a perfect GRE score?

Tutors and teachers: The GRE math is actually very easy if you’ve taught math for years. As a result, of math tutors/teachers who sit for the GRE, many can score close to perfect. It’s an old adage — to learn something best, teach it. You’ll find that explaining a complex topic to one of your friends actually helps YOU learn as well.

Physics majors: On the old GRE, physics majors (like our Content Developer, Mike!) were more likely than any other major to get a perfect GRE score. A highly conceptual field, perhaps physics major were quicker to “get it.”

Poets who like permutations: Those with a strong affinity for language and a love of numbers are also at a strong advantage to do well or even get a perfect GRE score. Figuring out words in context is no problem. And the optional calculator will be nothing more than a floating icon.

Avid Readers: Those who read voraciously across a wide range will be at an advantage for text completions and reading comprehension. Avid readers are also more likely to hunker down and prep for the math section, even if that section isn’t their inherent strength.

Students who like tests:
Some people are just naturally great at standardized exams. Did you do super well on the SAT, or another standardized exam? If so, you probably have a good handle on the rhythm of test-taking, so you’ll likely fare well on the GRE.

So let’s say you aren’t in any of these groups? Is it still possible for you to get a perfect score? Definitely. Will it take hard work? Well, is climbing Mt. Everest easy? Rhetorical question aside, you can still have a chance to do score perfect or close to perfect. So how do you get a perfect GRE score?

The Best Perfect Score Strategies

When studying for the perfect GRE score, don’t just dive right into studying. Instead, make sure you have a method. The best students make sure that their studying is comprehensive, and that they study every single possible aspect of the exam.

Approaching questions willy-nilly or without a refined strategy can lead you to miss questions or fall for traps. Definitely find a strategy that works for you. Some opt for Kaplan’s approach, some for Princeton Review. For a more thorough approach, either Magoosh or Manhattan GRE is best.

Finally, consider how long to study. In our experience, students who study longer score better. Trying to “cram” for the exam in only a week or two won’t work for most students. Instead, you should think about your current skill level, and then assess how long you should study. We’ve written a whole other article about how long you should study. Read through it to get a better sense of your own personal situation.

The Best Practice Questions

If you practice with questions that do not accurately reflect what you’ll see test day, guess what? You won’t be getting a perfect score on the GRE. As a result, you want to be picky when you prep. To boil down our New GRE book reviews to the essentials, Magoosh and Manhattan GRE offer the most and the best questions.

However, neither can prepare you as well as the questions released by ETS, the writers of the GRE. As of now, there is a book and a free downloadable test/PDF file that you should definitely take before you walk into the test.

Furthermore, you should definitely use more than just one resource. Each test prep company has its own take on the GRE. Using just one might give you a slightly biased perspective on the exam. You might be exposed to slightly easier or slightly harder versions of a particular type of question. That could lead you to be ill-prepared for test day. Introducing variety, however, ensures you see a wide breadth of potential question types.

The Best Approach to Prep

We’ve written about this in numerous other blog posts. But here is the one that describes it best: How to Study for the New GRE. This includes a few key points:

Study like a scholar, not a student. That means being interested in the content, and not merely doing it for the test.

Studying long enough. You won’t get a perfect score after only one week or one month of studying. Perfection takes time.

Prepare for the timed nature of the GRE. Mastering content is one thing, but getting a perfect GRE score also requires working under time pressure.

A Good Night’s Sleep To Destress

Don’t underestimate it – you will need utmost concentration. After all, if you are not paying attention, all the prep in the world won’t save you. Getting to bed soundly before your exam might require some zen techniques, especially if you’re stressed. Learning some ways to de-stress can definitely help you sleep better the night before your exam.

Additionally, be aware of any problems you have with test anxiety. If you know you’re the kind of person who clams up in a testing room, then be prepared. Practice some zen techniques in advance, to reduce the impact of anxiety on test day.

Takeaway

With the right prep, the right focus, and, in some cases, the right background, a perfect score on the GRE is not impossible. Be prepared, however, to study for at least a few months. In most cases, you won’t get to a perfect GRE score by studying for only a week or two.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2012, and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

Magoosh students score 12 points better than average on the GRE. Click here to  learn more!

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20 Responses to How to Get a Perfect GRE Score

  1. Divya July 4, 2017 at 3:27 am #

    Hi,
    my gre score was 307 (146-v;161-q) please provide me suggestions to score 325+

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert July 4, 2017 at 10:05 am #

      Hi Divya,

      So, to achieve a score increase like the one you’re talking about, different steps will be necessary for different students. I recommend that you really dive into both sections (and more importantly, Verbal) of the exam with a combination of a test prep and the Official Guide and work through a structured study plan. Then, I would also recommend that you focus on your areas of weakness to find improvement here.

      If you want to get a better sense of what we have to offer, I would suggest signing up for our free 1-week GRE trial. This will allow you to see how the site works and try out a selection of lesson videos and practice questions. You should also know that if you buy a full membership, you’re protected by our 7-day money-back guarantee—contact us within a week of your purchase and we’ll give you a full refund for any reason.

      I hope this helps a little! Best of luck! 😀

  2. Vivek Samuel February 28, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

    Dear Sir,

    Greetings from India!

    This is Vivek.. I plan to do MBA from London Business School, probably in fall 2017. Since, I have a full-time day job, I will be able to give 2-3 hours/day for the GRE prep.. What’s the ideal score to get into LBS, as they’ve mentioned only an indicative GMAT score on their website.. Could you please share your thoughts and advise on the things to focus on vis-a-vis the GRE? To give you a brief, I have approx 4 years of work exp, an avid reader and a crazy fan of Cricket, apart from few good achievements in extra-curriculum activities during my under-grad days and in my previous organisation.

    Thanks!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert March 1, 2017 at 3:35 am #

      Hi Vivek,

      In reviewing the LBS admissions information, it is clear to me that they are all but banning the use of GRE scores. For example, they emphasize that many employers will want to see a GMAT score, and they only add the GRE as an afterthought in most places talking about scores. If you can, I highly suggest taking the GMAT over the GRE in this case.

      If you are determined to take the GRE still, you should note that their average GMAT score corresponds to a score between the 89th and 91st percentile, so you need to achieve at this level on the GRE. You can review the current GRE percentiles here. Without further detail, I would say you need a minimum of 160/160 on the GRE to be considered competitive for this school, but the GMAT is still the better test in this case. I hope this helped a bit! 🙂

  3. bharath December 5, 2016 at 9:31 am #

    hi sir I wrote gre once but scored very low again I’m going to retake at jan can you please provide any materials to me.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 6, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

      Hi Bharath,

      I’m sorry that you were unhappy with your GRE score! I know how frustrating that is, but remember: with hard work and time you will improve 🙂 All of our free materials are provided here on our blog: you can find eBooks, practice problems, advice and information that will help you with the GRE. You can download them all right from our blog!

      And if you want a more comprehensive and structured study approach, I encourage you to check out the Premium Magoosh product! We have videos lessons that cover all of the concepts, methods and strategies you need for the GRE, 1100+ high-quality practice questions and support from our amazing staff of tutors! You can try a free trial for seven days to see if Magoosh might be a good option for you 🙂 https://gre.magoosh.com/plans

  4. Revathi October 20, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    Hi, I just took the gre today and I had studied for 2 months. I had tuitions for maths and before I got my result I thought I had done fairly decently but I got my score and it was a 299. How do I go about things now in order to increase my score? What strategies should I adopt and moreover where did I go wrong?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert October 21, 2016 at 9:54 am #

      Hi Revathi,

      We are going to need a lot more information to offer you any helpful advice.

      1. What was your score breakdown?
      2. What was easy and what was hard for you during your test?
      3. What score do you need?
      4. How long do you have?
      5. What are you trying to do in grad school?

  5. Mathesh September 24, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I took the magoosh plan last month and wrote the test 2 days back, after a month of preparation. I didn’t follow your study plan but simply gone through the practice questions and lessons. I scored 310 with 150 in verbal and 160 in Math.

    I am planning to retake the test at the end of October. My main concern is to get a perfect score in the Math section or atleast a 320+
    Can you suggest me what to do to get there? That will be really helpful. Thank You.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert September 25, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Mathesh,

      The best way to improve your GRE math score is to practice, practice, practice. And you can’t just practice–you need to make sure that you learn as much as you can from every single question that you do. The GRE math section is difficult and requires knowledge of a large variety of subjects and methods. Your goal is to be able to see a question and immediately recall all of the relevant facts, rules and properties that might help you to solve the question. You should also immediately know the way forward to solve the question. The most efficient methods for solving difficult GRE math problems isn’t always the most intuitive, which is why practicing is key! This is why Magoosh questions all come with a video explanation–this is the best way to learn the most difficult and non-intuitive methods. This blog post might help you get in the mindset for maximum improvement: Learning From GRE Math Practice.

  6. deepak August 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    Hello sir , I’m counfused I got ielts score of 6.5 I’m not satisfied with it . And now I’m aiming for GRE and studying for it . Planning to give it in last week of October is there any strategy to score 325 or 330 in paper .

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert August 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

      Hi Deepak,

      Your exact strategy for getting a 325 to 330 depends on your current level of skill in all three areas of the GRE: Quants, Verbal, and AWA. If you got a 6.5 in IELTS, you probably aren’t yet where you need to be in order to reach your goal in Verbal and AWA. (Unless your IELTS scores in Reading and Writing were pretty good, and it’s your Listening and Speaking performance that dragged your score down.)

      Unless a 6.5 in IELTS is good enough for the programs your’e going for, I would actually advise that you study to retake your IELTS, as part of your warmup for GRE verbal and AWA. IELTS Reading and Writing skills are foundational to more advanced GRE Verbal/AWA skills. Once your’e more comfortable with IELTS level English, you’ll be ready to sart mastering the language of the GRE.

  7. Ramesh June 8, 2016 at 9:49 am #

    Hi Chris, suggest me a good GRE book that would help enhance my score, thanks!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert June 11, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

      Hi Ramesh 😀

      We recommend the Manhattan series. It’s a set of 8 books, each focusing on a different subject (for example, a complete book is dedicated to algebra. Another covers quantitative comparison and data interpretation). Because the series is broken down by topic, you can pick and choose which books you want to buy, depending on your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll also receive a code with the book that allows you to access 6 free practice tests online. You can read our review of the book on our blog. The review is a comprehensive look at the Manhattan series of books. It was written in 2012, but does a great job of laying out the books:

      * Manhattan Book Review

      For the most up-to-date review of the Manhattan books, you can read these articles:

      * Review of Manhattan 3rd Edition
      * Review of Sentence Equivalence and Text Completions

      And you can read the rest of our book reviews here:

      * GRE Book Reviews

      Hope this helps!

  8. Susan V October 4, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    Don’t “overestimate” a good night’s sleep?

    • Jessica Wan
      Jessica Wan October 5, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

      Hi Susan!

      Thanks for catching that typo! 😉

      Jessica

  9. Dirk July 27, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    Hi Chris – This Quora poster (http://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-preparation-method-to-get-an-170-GRE-Quant-score/answer/Soumya-Banerjee-6) claims that completion time (finishing before the section time limit) has an effect on scoring, and that simply getting every question right isn’t enough to score 170s. Seems a little odd and I can only hope that’s not true (!!) – what has your experience been in this regard?

  10. Linch May 27, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Hi Chris,

    How reliable is the scoring for the official ETS guide as a predictor of your actual GRE scores?

    On the first paper practice test, I made 4 mistakes in Verbal and 3 mistakes in Quant, so 46/50 and 47/50 respectively. According to the Score Conversion table, that’s 169/170, which sounds WAY too generous. Is this reliable?

    Originally, I was planning to bunker down and study for 90 hours on the test, with a primary focus on Math, but now I’m thinking of cutting it 45 to free up time for more interesting things like Coursera, and also shifting the focus more onto the AWA. But I wonder if the ETS’ standards have risen since hey published the official guide…

    • Chris Lele
      Chris Lele May 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi Linch,

      That’s a good question! Has ETS made the test harder now that the official guide is out and MGRE, Magoosh and others are offering difficult practice content?

      I can’t say for sure–but my impression when I most recently took the test was that it hadn’t become any more difficult. My advice: take the PowerPrep II CD test. That will probably give you a better indication of how you’ll do because it is a computer vs. paper-based test (you can write on paper, the computer mode might in some way alter your performance). I have yet to hear other stories like yours, so I’m guessing that the paper-based test is fairly accurate.

      If you do the same on the computer-based PowerPrep II test, then I think you ready to do very well on the test. I’d scale back your prep to 45 hours and focus on the more challenging content.

      Hope that helps!

      • Ayush July 28, 2013 at 8:39 am #

        I too faced a similar situation like Linch above, i took the paper based test from the ETS official guide and got two questions wrong (ie 48/50 raw score) the scaled score suggested 170, Today i took the PowerPrep II test 1 and got a score of 166 when i got three questions wrong (ie 37/40 raw score). Anyway gotta be more careful now because i need a 170 on the quants section.


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