GRE

How GRE scores are calculated Everything you need to know

Updated on: May 14, 2024
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The Graduate Record Examination, commonly known as the GRE, is a standardized test used by many graduate schools and business schools around the world as part of the admissions process. GRE scores are one of the most important factors considered by graduate school admissions committees, and therefore it is essential to understand how these scores are calculated.

In this article, we will discuss in detail how GRE scores are calculated, including the scoring scale, the scoring method, and how the scores are reported to candidates and universities.

GRE scoring pattern

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a standardized test used to assess the readiness of students for graduate-level education. It measures skills in Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. The test is computer-based, and the scores range from 130 to 170 for each section.

Verbal Reasoning

The Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE measures your ability to comprehend and analyze written material. It consists of two 20-question sections, and the total score ranges from 130 to 170 in one-point increments. For each question answered correctly, you receive one point. The raw score is the total number of correct answers you provide in both sections. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score, which ranges from 130 to 170, based on the difficulty level of the questions you received.

The conversion of raw scores to scaled scores involves a process called equating. Equating adjusts for any differences in difficulty between different versions of the test. The equating process ensures that scores from different versions of the test are comparable so that candidates are not unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged by the particular version of the test they take.

Quantitative Reasoning

The Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE measures your ability to apply mathematical concepts and solve problems. It also consists of two 20-question sections, and the total score ranges from 130 to 170 in one-point increments. Like the Verbal Reasoning section, you receive one point for each correct answer, and the raw score is the total number of correct answers you provide in both sections. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score, based on the difficulty level of the questions you received.

The Quantitative Reasoning section includes four types of questions: quantitative comparison, multiple-choice with one answer, multiple-choice with multiple answers, and numeric entry. The questions cover a range of math topics, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.

Also read: How to prepare for the online GRE exam

Analytical Writing

The Analytical Writing section of the GRE measures your ability to articulate complex ideas and evaluate arguments. It consists of two tasks: "Analyze an Issue" and "Analyze an Argument." Each task receives a score from 0 to 6 in half-point increments, and the two scores are then averaged to give an overall Analytical Writing score, which ranges from 0 to 6 in half-point increments.

The essays are scored by two trained readers, who each assign a score from 0 to 6. The scores are then averaged to give an overall score. If the scores assigned by the two readers differ by more than one point, a third reader will evaluate the essay and determine the final score.

Unscored and Research Sections

In addition to the scored Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing sections, the GRE contains an unscored section and a research section. These sections are not included in the total score calculation. The unscored section can appear in any order after the Analytical Writing section, and it contains either Verbal Reasoning or Quantitative Reasoning questions. The unscored section is included to test out new questions and to ensure that future versions of the test are reliable and valid.

The research section always appears last, and it is used to test new questions and research methods. The research section is not scored and does not affect your overall score.

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How to calculate the GRE score

Here is a step by step guide on how to calculate a GRE score.

Step 1: Calculate the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning Scores

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores are calculated using a scale of 130-170 points. Each question is assigned a point value, and the total number of points is calculated for each section. The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores are calculated separately.

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Step 2: Calculate the Analytical Writing Score

The Analytical Writing score is based on two essays that are graded on a scale of 0-6 points. The scores are then combined to create the Analytical Writing score.

Step 3: Calculate the Total Score

The total score is calculated by adding the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores together and then adding the Analytical Writing score. The total score ranges from 260-340 points.

Step 4: Calculate the Percentile Score

The GRE percentile score is calculated by comparing the total score to the scores of other test takers. The percentile score ranges from 1-99.

It is important to note that the scoring method for the GRE is not as simple as just counting the number of correct answers. The GRE uses a complex scoring algorithm that takes into account the difficulty level of the questions, the number of questions answered correctly, and the number of questions left unanswered or answered incorrectly. This algorithm ensures that scores are standardized across different versions of the test and that scores accurately reflect a candidate's performance.

After completing the test, the candidate receives an unofficial score report that includes their scores for each section of the test. This report is available immediately after the test is completed. Within 10-15 days, the official score report is released and sent to the universities the candidate designated during the registration process.

Conclusion

Understanding how GRE scores are calculated is essential for anyone planning to take the test. The scoring system is complex and takes into account various factors to ensure that scores are standardized and accurately reflect your performance. By understanding how the scoring system works, you can better prepare for the test and interpret your scores when you receive them.

How is the difficulty level of each question determined?

The GRE uses an adaptive testing system that selects questions based on the candidate's performance. If a candidate answers a question correctly, the next question will be slightly more difficult. If they answer a question incorrectly, the next question will be slightly easier. This system ensures that the difficulty level of each question is tailored to the candidate's ability level.

How are the Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores calculated?

The Verbal Reasoning and Quantitative Reasoning scores are calculated based on the number of questions answered correctly. However, not all questions are worth the same number of points. The difficulty level of each question is taken into account, and harder questions are worth more points than easier questions.

How is the Analytical Writing section scored?

The Analytical Writing section is scored by two human graders who each assign a score of 0 to 6 based on the quality of your writing. The scores are then averaged to give a final score. If the two scores differ by more than one point, a third grader will evaluate the essay to determine the final score.

How long does it take to receive official GRE scores?

You will typically receive your official GRE scores within 10-15 days of taking the test. However, the exact timing may depend on the testing location and the date of the test.

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