If you plan to attend graduate school, you will likely have to take the Graduate Records Examination, or GRE, which measures quantitative and verbal ability. The revised General Test, instituted in 2011, scores the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections on a 130 to 170 scale. The analytical writing section is still graded on a 0 to 6 point scale. While most schools do not have a precise GRE score requirement, a 157 or higher puts you above the 75 percentile of all GRE test takers. If you earn scores of 165 or higher in both the quantitative and verbal reasoning sections, you will be in the top five percent of all GRE test takers.
If you want a good score on the GRE, start preparing as early as possible. A study conducted by the Educational Testing Service, or ETS, concluded that test preparation significantly improves performance on the GRE. Also, they found that self-directed study helps almost as much as expensive classes and coaching. There are a number of books, smartphone applications and websites that can help you study for the test. The ETS website provides a number of free resources, including practice tests, and for a fee you can have your writing evaluated.
Investigating Program Admissions
Once you have achieved your best score possible on the GRE, you can see how your score compares to those who have been admitted to your program of choice. Check with the department in question to determine the average GRE score for successful admits. Sometimes schools require a minimum score, but the average for those actually admitted may be much higher. Admissions committees will often weigh certain sections heavier than others, too. For example, English Literature master's programs are likely to be more interested in your verbal and writing scores than your math score.
Based in Sedona, AZ, Nicole E. Dean has two decades of intensive experience as a writer, editor, educator and book coach. She is a regular contributor to "BrainWorld" magazine and created the blog Mystic@theMovies. She also taught college writing for 11 years and holds a master's degree in English literature.