The first thing everybody wants to know is: what is a good GRE test score? Well, to answer it simply: 320 is a good score, but it also depends upon a number of other factors, which we will uncover here.
There are a lot of variations in what constitutes a good GRE score i.e by field of study, by particular university program, and by scholarship requirements. Let’s unpack it one by one.
So, the GRE score calculates the final score by adding the Verbal Reasoning score (out of 170) and the Quantitative Reasoning score (out of 170). The Analytical Writing section is scored separately, out of 6.
Field of Study:
The table below has been taken from the official ETS website regarding the average GRE scores broken down by major fields.
As you can see, not all programs have the same GRE score requirement. Depending on the focus of your degree, you may need to score higher on either quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning, or analytical writing. The point to say is: if you are planning for a Social Sciences or Humanities degree, you do not need to worry too much about your Quantitative Reasoning score. Again, refer to the average GRE scores within your specific department to get a clear idea of what you should achieve, and then prepare accordingly.
Here are a few top graduate programs and their average GRE test score requirement:
For MBA programs, the average GRE score requirements are as follows:
- Top 10 ranked schools: 330+
- 11-20: 325+
- 21-50: 320+
Anything above 330 is considered an excellent score for an MBA program scholarship. Make sure your profile (bachelor’s/master’s CGPA, work experience, etc.) is better than the average class profile if you are looking for a scholarship.
Ideally, you should aim to get 325-330+ to secure a good scholarship for your MBA.
To get into a top program in engineering on scholarship, you should aim for an average GRE score of 325+. Generally, all engineering programs of top universities require an average of 165 in Quantitative Reasoning.
The highest competition within the Engineering program is in Electrical engineering–the ideal GRE test score is 330+ with an average score of 165 in Quantitative Reasoning.
For CS programs, the ideal GRE test score is 320+. Although the top schools for CS average around 330+ with a perfect Quantitative Reasoning score.
Since there is more competition in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering programs, it is important to get more than 165 in the Quantitative Reasoning section.
For Mechanical Engineering 318+ is considered a good score.
318+ is considered a good score for Civil Engineers.
For Environmental engineering and other related programs, 315+ is considered a good score.
Social Sciences Programs
Good GRE test scores for Social Sciences programs like Psychology, Anthropology, etc. fall in the 90th percentile for Verbal Reasoning and 75th percentile for Quantitative Reasoning. Average scores range between 315 to 320.
However, it is also very important to get a good score in Analytical Writing for Social Sciences programs. Aim to get 4.5+ in analytical writing, or approximately the 82nd percentile. For graduate programs, Verbal Reasoning scores hold more importance than Quantitative Reasoning ones.
English and Education Programs
To get into a good graduate English program, aim for GRE test scores of more than 310.
Even if you have 150 in Quantitative Reasoning, it is important to get 155-160+ in Verbal Reasoning. Moreover, a score of 4.5+ in analytical writing is also important for English and Education graduate programs.
Instead of focusing on quantitative scores, graduate programs in English tend to have a higher GRE score requirement for Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing.
School Ranking vs Test Scores
Many people search about the average GRE score requirement for a specific school. Top-tier schools typically admit students with a GRE score of 330+ for competitive programs.
Mid-tier schools require an average of 315-320+, whereas, low-tier schools show an average of 300-310+. If you have a strong research background and are applying for research-based programs, then even a lower GRE score might be acceptable.
Unfortunately, most schools offering their average GRE scores only do so for individual graduate programs. Instead of telling you the average GRE test score for the entire institute, they publish data for specific degrees.
However, it can be easily assumed that average GRE scores for top-tier institutions are higher than less competitive schools. For instance, Harvard and UPenn have higher GRE score requirements than UC Berkeley.
Both school competitiveness and degree programs determine the average GRE test score for a specific institution. If you are applying to a top-tier school with a highly competitive degree, then you are expected to have an excellent GRE score of 330+. In contrast, you can get into less competitive programs at mid-tier schools with a GRE score of 310+.
There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to average GRE scores for certain schools. This is why it is extremely important to consider score requirements concerning your field and target institutions.
Checking your University GRE Score Requirement:
To increase your chances of getting into your dream university, you have to follow a systematic approach. This means that you want to make sure that you are the ideal candidate for the university you are applying to. This includes your GRE test scores and overall profile.
You want to ensure that your test scores are higher than the average university requirement, or the average of the students admitted into your program in the university.
Here is an article with a step-by-step guide on Ph.D. admissions: https://blog.scholarden.com/scholarships/step-by-step-scholarship-guide-to-the-usa-phd-programs/
Fulbright scholarships are a wonderful opportunity for those who want to pursue their graduate or postgraduate degree from an American institution. In fact, a lot of students aim for it. One of the things Fulbright considers in its application is GRE test scores.
Now, what score should you get to be considered for a Fulbright scholarship? Again, there is no threshold below which you would not be able to apply.
We have had Fulbright applicants with a GRE score range of 300-330, so don’t let a 305 or 306 score discourage you from applying. Like we mentioned earlier, a good score is dependent upon your chosen graduate major field and other things like your publications, research/work experience, and bachelor’s CGPA. We have had a successful Fulbrighter studying MS in Electrical Engineering with a GRE score of 304 and a CGPA of 3.34, with sufficient research experience.
Another thing to notice is that whether you get the scholarship is also dependent upon whether you are choosing a Master’s program or a Ph.D. Generally, the GRE score requirement is higher for a Master’s than for a Ph.D.
In any case, make sure you do not generalize a good GRE score and aim with that mindset. Think about your chosen major, your top choice university, what is valued there, and what is required. And then aim for a score that will ensure you a spot in it.
Even for Fulbright and other scholarships, do not let slightly less GRE test scores stop you from applying. Combined with your other achievements, you may even get selected!
Check out Scholarden’s article on Ideal GRE scores of successful Fulbright candidates: https://blog.scholarden.com/gre-guides/ideal-gre-scores-of-the-fulbright-selected-candidates/