What do the cards say about your GRE score? Before you begin studying for the GRE, you want to have a good idea of how well you know the material on the test. The best way to do this is to use a GRE score predictor. A score predictor will help you know how far you are from your goal score, how much you need to study, and which topics you should focus your GRE studying on.
Having a GRE score estimator is one of the best ways to increase the effectiveness of your studying, and in this guide we explain the best way to predict your GRE score, which methods should be avoided, and how you can get the most out of this score estimate to get the GRE score you’re aiming for.
How Is the GRE Scored?
After you take the GRE, you’ll receive three scores, one for each of the main GRE sections: Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning.
The Analytical Writing section is scored between 0 and 6, in half-point increments. The Analytical Writing section is scored between 0 and 6, in half-point increments. You can learn more about how the GRE is scored and what the average GRE score for each section is by reading our guide on GRE scores.
What’s the Best Way to Predict My GRE Score?
Before you dive into your GRE studying, you’ll want to have a GRE score estimate to get a rough idea of how well you’re currently doing on the exam and which areas you need to focus your studying on.
The best way to predict your GRE score is to take a full-length, official practice GRE. It should be full-length (taken all at once, under strict timing conditions) so that you get an idea of how well you do on each question type the GRE contains and how taking a long test affects your score, and it should be an official practice test since these are the closest to the real GRE.
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We recommend taking one of the two PowerPrep tests available for free online. These are the absolute best choice for your GRE score predictor because they’re the closest experience to actually taking a real GRE. They have the same format, question type, computer interface, and timing as the real GRE, so whatever score you get from taking one of these you can be sure is very close to what you’ll score on the actual GRE. Additionally, the PowerPrep tests are also section-adaptive, just like the real GRE, so your performance on the first Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning sections determines the difficulty the questions you’re given on the second Verbal and Quantitative sections are.
We have an entire article on how to get the most out of the PowerPrep practice tests, and you should read through it before taking one of the tests to get your estimated GRE score.
What Are Other GRE Score Predictors?
Taking an official practice test is the most accurate GRE score predictor, but there are other ways to estimate your GRE score if you don’t have access to an official practice test or time to take one. In this section we discuss the pros and cons of other good options.
Using Your SAT/ACT Score
It’s possible to use your SAT or ACT score to get a rough estimate of how well you’d do on the GRE. The pros of using one of these scores as a GRE score predictor is that there is some overlap in the subjects and skills they test, and they have a similar format, so if you can complete a several hour ACT or SAT without losing your momentum, you can likely do so for the GRE as well.
However, there are several reasons this isn’t the best option. First, the SAT and ACT don’t test exactly the same skills as the GRE, so even if you did well on one of those exams, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically do well on the GRE. Additionally, you likely took the ACT/SAT several years ago, and your skills and areas of strength/weakness have likely changed since then. Maybe that means you’ll do a lot better on the GRE than you did on the SAT/ACT, or maybe it means you’ll need to do more studying to get the score you want.
We recommend using your SAT or ACT score as a way to get a rough estimate of how well you’ll do on the GRE before you take an official practice test to get a more accurate GRE score predictor. Check out this guide for charts you can use to convert your SAT scores to GRE estimates.
Take an Official Practice Quiz
ETS, in addition to offering full-length practice tests, also has short quizzes for each of the GRE sections. Because these quizzes cover each of the question types you’ll see on the GRE, they give you a taste of the different kinds of GRE questions you’ll need to answer. If you particularly struggle with one or more of the question types, you’ll know to study those topics more. This is useful information to have when you start preparing for the GRE because it helps focus your studying.
However, you won’t be able to get an accurate score estimate just from taking these practice quizzes since they don’t contain enough questions to convert into actual GRE score estimates. Instead, use them to get a general idea of how difficult you find GRE questions and a broad understanding of where to focus your studying.
What Doesn’t Work as a GRE Score Estimator?
Many people are understandably reluctant to take an entire practice GRE to predict their GRE score. After all, that’s four hours of your life you’re giving up! It can be tempting to look into other ways to estimate your GRE score, but we don’t recommend either of the methods below.
Taking an Unofficial GRE Test
There are many unofficial practice GREs available for free online, and it can be tempting to take one of those instead since they’re often shorter than the official practice GREs. However, doing this will likely not get you an accurate GRE score estimate.
There are some high-quality unofficial GRE tests, but most of them don’t do a great job of mimicking the style, format, and content of the real GRE. As a result, if you use one of these exams to estimate your GRE score, you could get a very inaccurate score, which could cause you to study more or less than you need to, or study the wrong material. Taking an official practice test, even though it’s long, will save you time in the long run because you can be sure it’s accurate.
Using Your GPA
You might also think you can use your GPA to predict your GRE score. After all, if you did well in your classes, doesn’t that mean you’ll do well on the GRE? Not exactly. The topics the GRE tests actually share very few similarities with most college classes. For example, the Quantitative Reasoning section of the GRE doesn’t test any topics beyond high school-level math. If you’ve taken pre-calculus or calculus in college, you won’t be tested on those skills on the GRE. Instead, the GRE tests simpler math concepts in tricky ways, using wording and concepts you may not be used to from your classes.
Don’t assume good grades in college will mean you’ll get a great GRE score. For most people, studying for the GRE is necessary for them to get the score they want.
How Should You Use Your GRE Score Predictor?
Once you’ve taken an official practice test and seen your scores from it, how can you use this information? Below are the four best ways to use your GRE score predictor.
#1: To Figure Out How Much to Study
Before you take your first GRE practice test, it helps to know what your goal scores are so you can figure out how far your score predictions are from them. To get your goal scores, first research the average GRE scores of the all the grad schools you’re interested in applying to. Look for this information on the programs’ Admissions pages.
Once you have this data for all your schools, find the highest scores for both the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Add two points to each of these scores to get your GRE score goals. This ensures that, if you meet your goal scores, you’ll be above the acceptable GRE score range for all the schools you’re interested in. After you take your GRE score predictor test, compare the scores you got with your goal scores. The farther your score prediction is from your goal scores, the more you’ll need to study.
Below are estimates of approximately how many hours you need to study in order to raise your score by a certain number of points. These numbers indicate how much you need to study to raise your GRE score by that many points across BOTH the Quantitative and Verbal sections. So, in 40 hours, you could raise your score for each section by about 2.5 points (5 points total).
- 5 points = 40 hours
- 10 points = 80 hours
- 20 points = 160 hours
- 30 points = 240 hours
Your estimated study time is a very useful piece of information to have, so be sure to have your goal scores figured out before or soon after you finish your GRE prediction test.
#2: To Decide When to Take the GRE
Once you know how many hours you need to study, you can use that to develop a study plan and figure out when the best time to take the GRE is. For example, if you need to study 80 hours and you estimate you can study about eight hours a week, you can expect to be ready to take the GRE in about ten weeks.
Conversely, if you need to take the GRE by a certain date, you can use that information to determine how many hours to study a week. If you need to study 40 hours and have to take the GRE within a month, that means you’ll need to study about ten hours a week.
#3: To Learn Which Topics to Focus Your Studying On
After you take the GRE practice test, you should analyze, not just the scores you got, but where you made mistakes. Knowing the areas you can improve in will make your studying more effective because you’ll be able to target your weaknesses and ensure you don’t make the same mistakes when you take the actual GRE.
#4: To Track Your Improvement
Even when using the best practice GREs available, you’ll want to take more than one practice test throughout your GRE studying to make sure the score is accurate. No GRE score predictor is 100% accurate, and everyone can have an off day, so by taking more than one practice GRE, you decrease the possibility of any outlier results and improve the accuracy of your scores. Plus, taking practice tests throughout your study period lets you see where you’ve improved and which areas you still need to work on.
We recommend taking at least two practice GREs, and ideally three to four, in order to get accurate score estimates and to track your progress.
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Summary: How Can I Predict My GRE Score?
A GRE score estimator is a great way to get a good estimate of how well you’d currently score on the GRE and how much improvement you need to make. Getting a GRE score predictor early on will make your studying more effective, and it will ensure you know how much you need to study, which makes it easier to plan out a study schedule.
For your GRE predictor, we highly recommend taking an official GRE practice test. This ensures you get the most accurate GRE score estimate possible. There are other options, such as taking practice quizzes or using your SAT score to get an estimate, but those aren’t as accurate, and we don’t recommend them. Once you have your GRE score predictor, you can use it to figure out how much you need to study, when to take the test, and which subjects you should target while studying.
Want more information on how the GRE is scored? Check out our GRE score breakdown guide for everything you need to know!
What GRE score should you be aiming for? Check out our guide to what a good GRE score is and learn how to develop your own score goals.
Need help registering for the GRE? Check out our step-by-step guide to GRE registration to learn every step in the process.