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GRE Score Percentile - Quant

In any competitive examination, your absolute performance is less important than how you performed compared to the competition. This is true for GRE® as well. Therefore, your performance in the GRE® exam is assessed not based on your percentage score but as a percentile.

But what is percentile?

While a percentage score would tell you how well you performed against the theoretical maximum that could have been scored in the GRE®, the percentile score shows how you fared relative to other test takers. This makes percentile score a much better indicator of your relative ability when reviewing your application.

Let us understand what percentile score is through an example. If a test taker scores a percentile of 93, it means that they scored better than 93% of the people who appeared for the exam. Their score was in the top 7%. Higher your percentile score better would be your chances of being admitted to a reputed university. A score of 50th percentile would put you right in the middle of the test takers, giving you the median score. Percentile shows where you stand against your peers, and percentage score shows your absolute performance in the GRE® exam.

Many universities look at not just your GRE® total score percentile, but also the percentile score in each section of the exam. Therefore, you should aim for a high GRE® verbal percentile and GRE® Quants percentile.

Here is a breakdown of scores vis-à-vis the GRE® Quant percentile score for 2018 (Percent of Test Takers Scoring Lower Than Scaled Score).

Scaled ScoreGRE® Percentiles for 2018

A perfect score in Quant gives you a GRE® quantitative percentile score of 97. This indicates that as many as 3% of the candidates score 170/170 on the GRE® quantitative reasoning test. As with any other exam, the absolute score is also normally distributed. This means that most candidates would score around the middle of the range.

This implies that even a small improvement in the scaled score for someone in the middle of the range would result in a much greater improvement in percentile score compared to someone near the top. For example, if your scaled score improved from 148 to 153 in the Quant section – your GRE® Quant percentile score would improve from 30 to 51. A jump of 21 points! On the other hand, a similar jump of 5 points on the scaled score 163, would see the percentile score improved from 84 to 94 – just a 10-point jump.

How is the GRE® percentile calculated?

Now that we understand what percentile score means, let us take a look at how it is calculated.

  1. First, a scaled score is assigned to you based on your performance in the GRE®. For the GRE® Quant section, this score ranges from 133 to 170.
  2. Once you have been assigned a scaled score, calculating the percentile score is simply a matter of arranging scores of all your peers in ascending order and finding what percentage of candidates are below your position.

What is a good GRE® Quant percentile score? Does it matter?

The GRE® is attempted by students applying for a wide variety of graduate schools and programs. This means the GRE® percentile score is calculated by comparing students aiming to pursue a master's degree in Humanities with someone wanting to complete a Ph.D. in engineering sciences! Of course, it is not fair to expect them to score similarly on the exam.

Therefore, a good GRE® math percentile score for you depends on the program that you are seeking admission into. For example, a top Math program may accept students with a low score in GRE® verbal but would require at least a 95 on GRE® Quant percentile. On the other hand, a Ph. D. program in media studies may not require a high Quant percentile. Further, the more competitive a program – the higher would be the GRE® percentile requirement.

To understand the impact of the chosen field of study on the required score, let us look at GRE® Quant exam percentiles by field.

QUANT SCORE135140145150155160165170
Life Sciences<14174272909799
Physical Sciences<1381731527491
Social Sciences18244770859498
Arts and Humanities29255074899799+

As the table demonstrates, someone pursuing a course in Physical Sciences, Engineering or Business needs to score a much higher GRE® quant percentile compared to someone interested in Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities or Education.

How is the percentile calculated?

First, based on your performance on the GRE®, a raw score is assigned, which is then translated into a percentile score. For this conversion, ETS follows a fixed method. For example, a score of 131 in the verbal section converts to 1 percentile, the lowest percentile possible. On the other hand, a perfect score of 170 converts to a highest of 99 percentile in the verbal section. For the Quants section, however, the minimum attainable percentile comes with a score of 133

Why does the GRE® percentile matter for university applications?

As harsh as it may sound, grad school is not for slackers. While the GRE® percentile is just one aspect of your application package, it is a great way for a university to know how well you fare against your competitors, and as such, schools rarely accept students below the 50th percentile. Some of the top schools, like MIT and Caltech, indicate a percentile cutoff for their graduate programmes. This is especially true if you’re applying for a popular programme—for example Computer Science—which has more applicants, and naturally drives up the percentile requirement. Depending on your chosen field, a high percentile in that section can also help tip the scales in your favour. So for instance, if you’re applying for a PhD in Math, a Quant score in the 97th percentile will help seal the deal.

Frequently Asked Questions in GRE® Quant Percentile

Q1. What score is 90th percentile for GRE?

As mentioned above in the table, the score for a 90+ percentile is atleast 165+.

Q2. Will I get admission if I am in the bottom 50th percentile?

Below 50th Percentile means scoring around 153 and below, this might not be enough for the top universities and is only sufficient for Tier 2 and Tier 3 colleges.

Q3. What percentile will I get if I score 148 in the GRE® Quant Section?

30th Percentile.

Q5. What percentile should I aim for in GRE® 2019 exam?

Depending on the universities a student is targeting, they can aim for a suitable GRE® Score. For an experts guidance in this topic, Get in touch with our GRE® Experts today!

You can also check where you currently stand in your preparation using our Score Predictor Test.

We hope you found this article helpful and illuminating, and wish you the best of luck on your journey ahead. If you found this informative, be sure to check out our extensive list of resources here, to aid you with on your GRE® prep!
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GRE Score : 330 ( V : 160 | Q : 170)
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GRE Score : 329 ( V : 159 | Q : 170)
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GRE Score : 334 ( V : 164 | Q : 170)
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GRE Score : 307 ( V : 149 | Q : 158)
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GRE Score : 309 ( V : 149 | Q : 160)
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GRE Score : 325 ( V : 155 | Q : 170)
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GRE Score : 320 ( V : 156 | Q : 164)
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