Update: We spruced up this post so that it contains all the most up-to-date info on Average GRE Scores for 2017. Enjoy!
Our students often ask us, “what’s the average GRE score?”. Before ETS released the updated version of their Snapshot report, for 2017 GRE takers, we couldn’t provide a simple, straightforward answer, but now we can. The 50th percentile, or “average GRE score”, is about 303, or 151 for verbal and 152.5 for math. And the AWA average is 3.5.
Is it really that simple? No. And read on to find on why.
Is the average GRE score important?
No. The averages above were calculated based on results from over 500,000 students who took the GRE between July 2015 and June 2016. (It’s now 2017 – things change!) This is a diverse group of students, applying to many different programs with many different requirements. As you’re applying to graduate programs, the average score of all test takers is irrelevant. For you, the average GRE score for your particular program at your target school is much more important—this is the score you need to exceed. For example, students in the top 10 engineering programs have an average math score of 166, so if you are applying to the best engineering programs, you should aim for a math score higher than the average of 158—preferably above 160.
In their snapshot, ETS did provide average scores by intended graduate major. I’ve reorganized the table from their Snapshot, providing an average score breakdown by program for Verbal and Quant:
GRE Score Averages by Intended Graduate Major Field
|Intended Graduate Major Field||Average Verbal Score||Average Quant Score|
|Humanities and Arts||156||150|
|Social and Behavioral Sciences||153||151|
|No Major Provided (or not listed)||149||150|
Data from ETS Worldwide Test Taker Snapshot
The table above provides a helpful baseline, but note that these are average scores for all schools. I highly recommend doing research for the specific colleges and universities that you are targeting – and make sure that it’s recent, 2017 info.
How do I find the average score for my program?
Great question. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Here are some steps that may help:
- Identify your target program (i.e. Engineering, English, etc.)
- Research schools in that program by using a site such as US News and World Report.
If the averages are not listed on the site, email the colleges directly. This steps takes a bit of work, as you’ll need to find the correct department and email address, but it’s well worth it.
- Read this article which provides some detail on how to identify a good GRE score.
- Bonus Step: Take a look at our GRE Scores infographic to identify the average, good, and great GRE scores for admitted students in your chosen discipline.
Also remember that GRE scores last for 5 years. So in many cases admissions committees may have averages on the old scoring scale. Here’s a handy GRE score conversion table in case you need to determine what your score would be on the old scale.
Photo by Alberto G.
Interesting statistics about average GRE scores
ETS released a lot of data in their the snapshot report, breaking out averages by gender, geography, and more. Here are some interesting, but meaningless, statistics from that report:
- U.S. citizens on average score about 6 points lower on math and 5 points higher on verbal than non-U.S. citizens.
- China has the highest average math score at 164.6; only Singapore, at 160.4, comes close.
- New Zealand has the the highest average verbal score at 158.4, with Australia a close second with an average of 158.1.
- Engineering majors have the highest average math score at 157.6.
- Humanities and Arts majors have the highest average verbal score at 156.2 and the highest average AWA score at 4.0.
Try not to worry about the overall average GRE scores. Focus on your target program and school, and then focus on your GRE prep.