What Do Your GRE Scores Mean?

Scores on the GRE are reported as three separate scores, one each for the Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections. Your GRE practice will determine the score you get on the exam. The scores are independent of each other and are scaled differently.  This post describes what they mean.

Verbal Reasoning Score

The GRE Verbal Reasoning section is divided into two sections, each of which has three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Text Completion, and Sentence Equivalence.  The questions are all multiple choice, some with a single answer and some with multiple answers.  Scores are reported on a 130-170 point scale in 1 point increments.

Raw scores are converted into scaled scores, which account for variations in the difficulty of questions as well as editions of the GRE.  The scaled score is intended to be normalized so that it would be the same regardless of where or when you took the test.  In addition to scaling, your scores are reported with a percentile rank, which measures how you did relative to everyone who has taken the test within the last three years.

The Verbal Reasoning section is section-level adaptive, which means that the second part of the section will be either easier or harder depending on how well you do on the first. Make note of that as you go through your GRE practice. This allows for more differentiation at the higher end of the scoring range and makes your percentile rank more accurate.

Quantitative Reasoning Section

The GRE Quantitative Reasoning section is structured similarly to the Verbal Reasoning section.  It consists of two parts, each of which has four types of problems: multiple choice (single answer), multiple choice (multiple answer), numeric entry (enter a numeric answer), and quantitative comparison (choose one of two answers).  The score scale is the same, ranging from 130 to 170 in 1 point increments.  Raw scores are converted to scaled scores, to account for variations in test difficulty, and reported along with a percentile rank.  The percentile rank is the most valid measure for comparing your performance on the different sections.  Also like the Verbal Reasoning section, the Quantitative Reasoning section is section level adaptive, something you need to keep in mind as you plow through your GRE practice.

Analytical Writing

The GRE Analytical Writing section consists of two segments, each of which contains a different writing task.  In one the aim is to analyze an issue, in the other the aim is to analyze an argument.  The two segments are scored the same way, by two independent graders.  Each grader assigns a score from 0 to 6.  Scores above 3 represent varying degrees of competence, and scores below 3 represent varying degrees of incompetence.  A score of 3 is considered marginal.  The average of the scores from the two graders is taken as the score for the segment, but if the scores differ by more than a point, a third opinion is counted.  The average score for the two segments is reported as the score for the section.

Remember, though, that you can use the new GRE ScoreSelect option to choose what score reports you want to send to your schools. Good luck with the rest of your GRE practice! 

Dane Dormio is an online tutor and blogger with an unconventional approach to education.  Visit his tutoring blog at www.synergy-tutoring.com.

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