One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “What do I need to score on the GRE to get into grad school?” There are typically two answers to this question that students looking at target or average GRE scores are accustomed to hearing.
Answer #1: “It depends.”
A “good” GRE score is one that gets you accepted into the graduate program of your choice. What counts as good, then, depends on the program and the field.
You can get a good feel for this by looking at the average GRE scores from some top schools in a variety of popular and competitive fields. For our current purposes, we’ll focus on grad degrees in education programs, engineering programs, psychology programs, and even MBA programs, since business schools are increasingly accepting GRE scores in lieu of GMAT scores.
Remember that the Verbal and Quantitative portions of the GRE are scored between 130–170, and the average score falls somewhere around 150-152. The Analytical Writing section of the GRE is scored between 0 and 6 in half-point increments, and the average hits somewhere around 3.5.
Now, using the abbreviations established above, let’s break down some real data to help you determine which grad school programs look for which average GRE scores. Maybe your top grad school program will even be on the list.
If you are looking to apply to education programs:
- For its incoming class in 2016–2017, the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Educationadmitted Ed.M. applicants with average GRE scores of 155 Verbal, 156 Quant, and 4.1 in Analytical Writing.
- The average GRE scores of matriculants to the University of Michigan’s masters program in higher education are 157 Verbal, 152 Quant, and 4.5 in Analytical Writing.
- Although Harvard’s Ed.M. program does not report exact scores, accepted applicants for its 2016–2017 entering class ranked in the 80th percentile on Verbal, 60th percentile Quant, and scored a 4.6 in Analytical Writing.
For top graduate programs in engineering:
- Average GRE scores for UC Berkeley’s graduate students in the civil and environmental engineering program are 150 Verbal, 160 Quant, and a 4 in Analytical Writing.
- Harvard reports that its average scores for recent successful applicants to the engineering program were in the 75–80th percentile for Verbal and the 90–95th percentile for Quant.
- USC’s averages in engineering are 156 Verbal and 160 Quant, and 4 in Analytical Writing.
For getting a grad degree in psychology:
- The average GRE scores of clinical psychology students admitted to UCLA’s 2016 incoming class are in the 90th percentile for Verbal, the 75th percentile for Quant, and the 82nd percentile for the Analytical Writing section.
- UC Berkeley reports that average GRE scores in its psychology program are 160 Verbal, 158 Quant, and 4.96 in Analytical Writing.
- The University of Minnesota reports average scores for psychology masters students after 2011 being 159 Verbal and 156 Quant.
As we’ve discussed before, many business schools now accept the GRE as well as the GMAT, so here are some relatively new guidelines about what GRE figures really mean when applying to an MBA.
- According to Poets and Quants, the average MBA applicant to the Yale School of Management scored 164 Verbal, 162 Q, and 4.7 in Analytical Writing.
- At the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management, the target scores are 153 Verbal and 153 Quant.
- At Stanford Graduate School of Business, average GRE scores, according to Poets and Quants, came in at 164 Verbal, 164 Quant, and 4.8 for Analytical Writing.
For more information on the average GRE scores for grad school programs, as well as graduate program rankings by field, you can check out the latest data from U.S. News and World Reports.
For a more general look at the average scores of other test-takers by field, you can also look at ETS’ snapshot, which compiles the past three years of GRE test data into a series of handy charts. And if you’re curious about percentiles, you can reference the ETS chart on percentile rates of varying scores.
So, what about the second popular answer to the question, “What do I need to score on the GRE to get into grad school?”
Answer #2: “As high a score as possible!”
Remember that the numbers shared here are simply average GRE scores from average candidates. It goes without saying that you probably don’t want to settle for average. You want your application to stand out and impress the admissions committee, and you want a chance at earning scholarships and other financial aid. Having a high GRE score is an excellent way to do just that.
How do you get that great GRE score, the one that will get you into the grad program of your dreams?
- Take a free GRE practice test.
- Utilize the test maker’s resources.
- Enroll in a Kaplan GRE prep course.
You will soon be on your way to hitting your Test Day goal.