GRE percentiles and GRE score ranges required for top graduate schools

Tyler York
Planning your approach with GRE percentiles

Preparing to apply for graduate school would be easier if you had all of the relevant information laid out for you, wouldn’t it? The internet is indeed full of reference materials about what GRE score range or GRE score percentiles you need to get into a school or program. To help you get one step ahead, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about the GRE percentiles that top universities require.

(And if you’re looking for GRE material, check out Achievable’s GRE course page – we’re free to try.)

First, let’s define first the difference between a good GRE score and GRE percentiles:

GRE scores are based on your actual performance on the test. The sheer number of questions you answer correctly (your raw score) is passed through a scoring algorithm along with a few other factors (namely, the difficulty-level of your sections) to produce your scaled scores. On the verbal and quantitative sections, scaled scores range from 130 to 170 in 1-point increments. Thing is, this scale is completely arbitrary – Is 300 a good GRE score? Is 320 a good GRE score? It depends on where you’re applying. That’s why ‘what is a good GRE score’ is subjective, and GRE score percentiles can serve as a better “GRE grading scale”.

GRE percentiles measure how your GRE score compares to those of all other applicants to that particular school or program. GRE score percentiles represent the portion of your competition that you outperform, so it’s a much more actionable metric for evaluating performance. Percentiles range from the 0th to the 99th in 1-point increments — and higher values are desirable. More and more effort is necessary for smaller and smaller gains as you approach the ceiling of any test (or group of people, for that matter). For example, moving from the 80th to the 85th percentile is much easier than moving from the 90th to the 95th percentile. Think of it this way: going from worst to best swimmer in your high school is still way easier overall than going from worst to best swimmer among Olympic athletes.

Understanding GRE percentiles

The GRE General Test comprises verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. Your scores are then compared with other test takers within a defined comparison grouping. These are your GRE score percentiles. 

GRE percentiles indicate the percentage of test takers who’ve received a score below yours. So for instance, if your reported score is in the 80th percentile, it would mean that you scored better than 80% of the test takers around the world. Rankings are based on the GRE score range of those who tested years ago during a three-year validation period.

Here is a table detailing how GRE scaled scores correlate with GRE score percentiles on a national level:

GRE Score PercentileQuantitativeVerbalAnalytical Writing
99%1701696.0
90%1671625.0
80%1621584.5
70%159155 
60%1561534.0
50%153151 
40%1501483.5
30%148146 
20%1451433.0
10%1421392.5

Source: ETS.org

And here’s how the average GRE scores for Masters programs in the US match up with their corresponding GRE Percentiles:

Masters DegreeAverage 

 

Verbal

GRE 

 

Percentile

Average QuantitativeGRE 

 

Percentile

Business15050%15350%
Social sciences15360%15140%
Physical sciences15150%15860%
Life sciences15150%15140%
Arts and humanities15770%15040%

This shouldn’t be too surprising: the degrees that more heavily involve math are more competitive in the quantitative section, and vise versa. However, there is much more information lurking under the surface.

Below is our aggregation of the GRE scores and percentiles needed to get into the top 11 most sought after graduate schools in the US, broken down by program. This should give you a comprehensive view of what scores you need to reach your target grad school.

GRE percentiles for top universities, broken down by program

What GRE score do I need to get into Harvard?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Harvard
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1659616382
Engineering1608516792
Computer Science1556916178
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1639315453
Physics1679816790
Chemistry1546416382
Education1639315867

What GRE score do I need to get into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)N.AN.AN.AN.A
Engineering1629316792
Computer Science1608616487
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1536015453
Physics1679816790
Chemistry1649416382
EducationN.AN.AN.AN.A

What GRE score do I need to get into Stanford?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Stanford
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1659616586
Engineering1598216793
Computer Science1608616487
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1639315453
Physics1679816790
Chemistry1649416382
Education1618815660

What GRE score do I need to get into Princeton?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Princeton
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Economics1629016691
Engineering1629016691
Computer Science1649416792
Mathematics1689816894
Psychology1659616894
Physics1689817096
Chemistry1649416894
EducationN.AN.AN.AN.A

What GRE score do I need to get into Yale?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Yale
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1659616382
Engineering1556817097
Computer Science1556816178
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1639315453
Physics1629016484
Chemistry1598316073
EducationN.AN.AN.AN.A

What GRE score do I need to get into University of California Berkeley (Cal)?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for University of California Berkeley
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1659616487
Engineering1577516589
Computer Science1608616487
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1639315453
Physics1679816792
Chemistry1649416382
Education1598315245

What GRE score do I need to get into University of Pennsylvania?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for University of Pennsylvania
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1639316279
Engineering1556816691
Computer Science1556816178
Mathematics1608616487
Psychology1588015141
Physics1629016487
Chemistry1598316073
Education1629015660

What GRE score do I need to get into University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for UCLA
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1649416484
Engineering1546416589
Computer Science1556816178
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1639315453
Physics1629016484
Chemistry1598316073
Education1588015245

What GRE score do I need to get into Columbia University?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Columbia University
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Economics1639316691
Engineering1556816691
Computer Science1556816178
Mathematics1659616792
Psychology1588015141
Physics1629016484
Chemistry1649416383
Education1588015349

What GRE score do I need to get into University of Southern California (USC)?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for University of South California
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1598315970
Engineering1515116382
Computer Science1556816176
Mathematics1577616279
Psychology1588015141
Physics1598316279
Chemistry1567315867
Education1618815453

What GRE score do I need to get into Cornell University?

Average GRE Scores and Percentiles for Cornell University
DegreeAverage Verbal ScorePercentile pertaining to that scoreAverage Quantitative ScorePercentile pertaining to that score
Business (MBA)1608616073
Engineering1546416689
Computer Science1608616484
Mathematics1608616484
Psychology1588015141
Physics1679816790
Chemistry1649416382
EducationN.AN.AN.AN.A

The percentile ranks are a good way to know how competitive programs are and where you stand in relation to other successful applicants for those programs. We hope this guide was helpful! If you have any specific schools that you’d like us to add, please mention us on Twitter at @achievableprep with your suggestions.

Lastly, once you’ve pinpointed your target GRE score and percentile, we would be remiss if we didn’t share the excellent GRE course that Achievable has developed. The course combines our author’s 15+ years of GRE expertise and tutoring experience with Achievable’s industry-leading memory science technology and easy to use program. Try it for free – GRE course page.

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