Friday, December 6, 2013

How does your GRE score compare to your international peers?

Admit Data: Make Informed Admissions Decisions
By Yoko Kono

Are you an international student who wants to attend a graduate program in the U.S.? As a prospective graduate student, chances are that you will probably need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. Most U.S. graduate and business schools require applicants to take the GRE, which is used as a common measure to compare candidates.

Approximately, 311,000 international students are currently studying towards their master’s, MBA, or doctoral degrees in the U.S. The top 20 countries represented among graduate students in the U.S. are listed below with their average GRE scores.

Source: ETS. (2013). A Snapshot of the Individuals Who Took the GRE revised General Test.

In 2012-2013, one in three GRE test takers was an international student. That’s a lot of international students taking the test! So how does your score compare to other students? There are 3 sections within the GRE test:
  • Verbal Reasoning: total 170 points
  • Quantitative Reasoning: total 170 points
  • Analytical Writing: total 6 points 

The interactive figure above shows the average score of GRE test takers from the top 20 senders of graduate students in the U.S. Depending on your field of study, your score on one section may be more important than another. For example, quantitative reasoning scores carry more weight for STEM programs, while some humanities programs may emphasize verbal section scores. Although these averages are not related to graduate school admission requirements, it is a useful tool to see how you fair against your peers.  As the application deadlines are around the corner, make sure that you:
  1. Check the website of both the university and graduate program/school that you are applying to for GRE test requirements, such as deadlines and minimum scores.
  2. Register for the GRE test at a test center near you.
  3. Prepare for and take the GRE test, and send your scores to the institutions you are applying to. 

Remember, although you should aim for a good score on your GRE, a less-than-perfect score is not the end-all be all! It is only one part of your entire application that may include your undergraduate academic record, recommendation letters, and personal statement. Your GRE score is just ONE way that admissions officers will gauge if you are ready to take on your graduate-level studies. If you do well, your chances of getting accepted and sometimes even considered for financial aid, scholarships, and fellowships will go up. Therefore, keep up the good work, and be confident that your efforts will bear fruit! 


Yoko Kono is a Research Associate for the WES Research & Advisory Services team at World Education Services. Yoko fell in love with everything international during her undergraduate program when she learned Mandarin and studied abroad at Nanjing University, China. She holds a M.A. in International Comparative Education from Stanford University.


  1.  GRE exam is a requirement for admission in such programs i.e. Masters, PhD etc. But no where in the world..., they use it to grade your PhD or your working during PhD.

    gre practice study


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