The Educational Testing Service, which administers the Graduate Record Examination, changed the way the test is scored on Aug. 1, 2011. New types of questions emerged, and with them, an entirely new set of GRE scores. If you took the GRE prior to the change, you'll need to learn how current GRE scores compare to the old scores.
Prior GRE Scores
On the old GRE exam, scores ranged from 200 to 800 points in 10-point increments on both the verbal and quantitative sections. The analytical writing section ranged from zero to six in half-point increments. A zero was a no-score and a six was very nearly unattainable, although a few testers managed to nab that incredible score.
On the previous test, good GRE scores ranged from the mid to upper 500s in the verbal section and mid to upper 700s in the quantitative section. You'd expect that students looking to enter into programs like Yale's school of management and UC Berkeley's graduate school of psychology to be earning in the 90th percentiles and higher.
GRE scores are valid for up to five years. This is bad news for those who tested prior to Aug. 1, 2011. Additionally, as of Aug. 1, 2016, your GRE scores are no longer valid and will not be considered for admission if you happened to have put off attending graduate school for a while. The good news is that many test takers find that although the current GRE is quite challenging, the questions are more relevant to the workplace, graduate school curricula, and real-life experiences, so you may just get a better score the next time you take the exam.
GRE General Scores
On the GRE general test, previously known as the revised GRE, scores range from 130 to 170 points in one-point increments on both the revised verbal and quantitative sections. A 130 is the lowest score you can obtain, while 170 is the highest. The analytical writing test is still scored from zero to six in half-point increments just as it was previously.
One of the benefits of the scoring system on the current test is that it provides better differentiation between those applicants who tended to get lumped into a group at the upper register of the scale. Another benefit is that the difference between a 154 and a 155 on the general GRE does not seem quite as vast as the difference between a 560 and a 570 on the previous GRE. With the current system, small differences are less likely to be interpreted as meaningful when comparing applicants, and large differences will still stand out quite clearly at that upper register.
Tips and Hints
If you are interested in retaking the GRE in order to apply to graduate school and are unsure what you might expect to score on the exam, ETS offers a comparison tool, which helps generate scores on the previous or current version of the GRE depending on which test you've taken. The comparison tool is available in both an Excel and a flash version if you only need to make a one-time comparison.
Similarly, If you'd like to see how your GRE general score compares to prior GRE scores, review comparison tables for revised GRE verbal scores versus prior verbal scores as well as revised GRE quantitative scores versus prior quantitative scores. Percentile rankings are also included to give you a better idea of your rank.