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Princeton GRE Scores for All Programs

Princeton campus GRE Scores

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:

ProgramU.S News RankingAverage Verbal GREAverage 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.

ProgramUS News Rank 2016Average GRE Verbal RangeAverage GRE Quantitative Range
Biological Sciences9 out of 261165-169165-169
Chemistry15 out of 205162-166166-170
Computer Science8 out of 176162-166165-170
Earth Sciences11 out of 123162-166162-166
Economics1 out of 132166-170166-170
English4 out of 156167-170166-170
Public Affairs4 out of 272165-170166-170
History1 out of 147166-170165-170
Mathematics1 out of 173166-170166-170
Physics2 out of 178166-170170
Political Science2 out of 119166-170166-170
Psychology7 out of 246163-167166-170
Sociology1 out of 117166-170166-170

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 percentilePrinceton’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.

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.

8 Responses to Princeton GRE Scores for All Programs

  1. Rian December 29, 2013 at 3:18 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Just got my score last week.
    My verbal score is 154, while for quantitative I got 166. I got 4.5 for writing.

    From routine training and taking exercises, I got around 150-158 for verbal, and around 166-170 for quantitative.

    My GPA is 3.87/4.00, and I am from Indonesia.

    The question is: should I retake the test if I want to pursue higher education in top universities? Considering my university is on 200-300th position T.T

    • Rita Neumann
      Rita Kreig January 1, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      Hi Rian!

      Great question, and congrats on your scores!

      Whether or not to retake the GRE really depends on what type of program you’d like to get into. For example, your quant score is exceptional for nearly all areas of study, but could be improved if you want to specialize in mathematics, because these programs are looking for near-perfect quant scores. Your verbal score is also very, very good, but could be improved if you want to study English or Fine Arts. Does that make sense?

      What type of program are you planning to apply to?

  2. S October 17, 2013 at 5:35 am #

    Hi Chris,

    I am looking to apply to programmes in Public Policy. I have a GRE score of 328 (Q 161, V 167). I have an okay GPA (international), strong work experience and essays.

    The Princeton MPA, and the Harvard MPP would be my top choices.

    Would you suggest a retake to nail a few more Quant points?


    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer October 18, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

      Hey S, probably at that level and since the programs aren’t quant heavy, it won’t matter so much Maybe focus on the rest of your applications instead?

      Chris S

  3. Abiya September 18, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Hi Chris,

    Do you have the average admit scores for the Education PhD?

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer September 20, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

      Hey Abiya! For Princeton? I don’t see their PhD program in Education. I checked their website and found this: “Graduate work is not offered in business, education, law, medicine, theology, or other professions not specified below.” Maybe you mean for Education programs in general? Check out this post for that: GRE Scores for Education Programs

      Chris S

  4. Stephanie June 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm #


    Thank you for this series on average GRE scores for different universities! Could you, by chance, do the next one on John’s Hopkins University? I am mostly interested in the scores for the Biomedical Eng. admissions.

    Thank you!

    • Chris Swimmer
      Chris Swimmer July 3, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

      Hey Stephanie! I can’t promise one on JHU any time soon, but I looked up the engineering school in US News and it looks like the averages are 155 verbal and 161 quantitative. Since biomedical engineering is so highly ranked, I’d probably tack a couple of points on top of that. 🙂

      Chris S

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