We have received numerous comments over the past several days pertaining to the new scores for the GRE and how to make sense of them. An important thing to keep in mind right now is that this is still a very new test, and as such it is difficult for all parties involved (including students, ETS, and universities) to get an accurate picture of what the first round of scores actually means. We are in the same boat, and so we are only able to offer some thoughts and guidelines for interpreting your scores on the new GRE at this time.
As more and more students take the test, our ability to measure scores will increase. For now, we will be attempting to provide some answers to a few of the most common questions we have been getting:
- How do I make sense out of the estimated scores I received after finishing my new GRE test?
ETS has published a very helpful guide to evaluating and using scores from the new test that can be downloaded here:
Of special interest are the tables found on pages 19-21, which show the most precise estimations of the relationship between the old 800 point scale and the new 170 point scale that the makers of the test have released thus far. Another critically important statistic included in these tables is the percentile rankings. Especially given the newness of the test, these ratings will be used to determine what does or does not constitute a good score more than the raw numbers will. At least until everyone knows how well students generally perform on the quantitative and verbal sections of the new test, most schools will probably be using percentile rankings to convert between the old and new scales (i.e. 69th percentile on the Verbal Reasoning portion would equate to both a 530/800 and 155/170). A few further things to keep in mind. On the old GRE, students tended to score higher in quantitative reasoning than in verbal reasoning. The tables released by ETS show this same pattern, but it remains to be seen whether this will ultimately be true of the new GRE, and if so to what extent. At present, if you received an estimate of 500-600 on both sections when you took the new GRE, you should score between 153-160 on the verbal section (good for between the 62nd and 86th percentile), but only 144-148 on the quantitative section (between the 26th and 44th percentile).* Also, because of this difference, trying to add up your estimated ranges and then converting from an 800/1600 point scale to a 170/340 point scale can yield inaccurate and misleading results.
Remember, there is currently no definitive answer on what a “good” raw score is. It is probably a good rule of thumb right now to pay more attention to your percentile ranking in order to gauge how well you did. Of course, it is always helpful to seek to improve your score as a high score will always beat a low score. One of the proven ways to do this is to take a GRE prep course that is offered by Test Masters with a 10 point score increase guarantee on the revised GRE. Our goal is for everyone to reach their goals on the new GRE so that they can reach their goals further down the road.
Hopefully, this has been able to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the new GRE. We will be looking at some questions regarding how different schools view scores from the revised GRE in a future post. As always, if you have questions, please let us know and we will do our best to answer them as well as we can.
*according to the information provided by ETS in these tables