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GRE Score

GRE scores are required for admissions to most colleges in U.S.A., some colleges in Canada and a few in other countries.

Your GRE score is the single most important factor in your admission to the top program. No matter how good your undergraduate GPA is or how inspiring your statement of purpose is; you do not stand a chance in the top program without a good GRE score.

What is a Good ‘Ball Park’?

In most of the top programs, ‘ball park’ starts at about 1300. This is not a strict cutoff. However, with scores less than 1200, your chances of getting into the top program are minimal (Unless of course, you wrote a research paper challenging Einstein’s Theory of Relativity)

As a good estimate, if your GRE score is within a school's median 80 percent range, even if it's 60 points below the school's median, you have a reasonable chance of being admitted. If it's below that 80 percent range you still have a shot, but it's a long shot. Most programs print their 80 percent ranges in their brochures. For those that don't, you can make a rough estimate by assuming the range starts about 60 points below the median and ends about 60 points above it. As long as you are within that range, you have a reasonable chance of being admitted.

Break-up of GRE Score

The GRE score is further divided into verbal, quantitative and analytical writing assessment scores in your score report. Separate scores, particularly for quantitative section, are very important. Most engineering programs put strong emphasis on quantitative ability and consider your math score to be a reflection of your quantitative skills. A good balance in the quantitative and verbal scores would be ideal; however, if you have to be stronger on one section of the test than on the other, it is definitely better to be stronger in quantitative sections.

A good balance would be getting in the 700s in each section. Your GRE score card will have the following breakup:

Low - High
Total Score 400 - 1600
Quantitative Score 200 - 800
Verbal Score 200 - 800

We have seen that most international students perform well in the quantitative section as compared to the verbal. Students who have strong mathematics background should invest time in improving their verbal scores to achieve the desired balance in their scores.

For candidates with less than 1000 score, we would recommend one of the following:

  • If you attribute your low score to lack of effort, preparation or coaching, you should definitely take the GRE again. A better GRE score along with good credentials in other key criteria will greatly enhance your chances of getting into a good program.

  • There are many candidates, who do not perform well in limited-time, high-pressure exams. If you are one of those candidates, you may not score high by re-taking the exam. No problem! You just need to put extra effort on your statement of purpose highlighting your research capabilities. For some of you who need guidance with writing application essays, we strongly recommend our consulting services.

Subject GRE

Some programs require you to take the subject GRE for the field of study that you are interested in. The requirement depends solely on the school and varies across the board. Once you have short-listed the schools that you would like to apply to, we advise you to go through the school web-site to confirm whether or not they require a subject GRE. More information on the test materials can be found on Subject GRE

Re-taking the GRE

If you are not happy with your GRE score, you can take the GRE test any number of times until you get the score you want. Most schools that we are aware of consider only your highest score. We do not know of any top or mid-tier school that takes an average of two or more scores.

Your ‘GRE transcript’ will provide only your three most recent scores. It does not matter if you send your transcript after every test or after you score the number you want. The application will ask you to specify the score you want the admissions committee to consider. Please remember that you cannot mix the sectional scores from different tests. In other words, you cannot take the quantitative score from one test and the verbal score from another.

A Word of Advice

We cannot stress enough on the importance of taking GRE seriously. There is no substitute for good preparation and it is very much worth the effort. Please consider taking preparation courses that help you achieve your goal. The more practice tests you take, the better you get. For international students, we would also recommend paying extra attention to the verbal ability section. And, of course, if you don’t do well the first time, don’t be afraid to take the test again.

For more details on GRE, check out About GRE

For GRE preparation, check out GRE Preparation


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