How many Questions Do I Need to get Right for a Good GRE Score?

Posted by on July 10, 2016 in Fulbright Pakistan, GRE, GRE Scores | 106 comments

gre score questions correct

 

How many Questions to get Correct for a Good GRE Score?

*This post has been updated for freshness in October 2017.

Recently a prospective GRE test taker asked me this question “I took the GRE test 1 on power prep software and got 11 out of 20 questions correct in the first quantitative section and 19/20 in next quantitative section. This means I got a total of 30 questions correct out of 40. Hence, since the GRE scoring scale is 130-170 then 130+30=160 should have been my final score. But my score is a meager 154 – how is that possible?”

 

* You can also scroll down at the bottom of this article to view actual (official) GRE Score reports.

 

To answer this question

….. you need to understand a few things. On the GRE exam, there are 2 graded math sections, 2 graded verbal sections, and 2 graded analytical writing sections. The math and verbal sections are scored on a scale of 130-170 with a total of 20 questions on each section. In other words, you have 40 questions for math and 40 questions for the verbal sections and a difference of 40 points. However, this does not mean that each question carries 1 point. GRE is based on the section adaptive algorithm. Each section is static and the questions within a section carry equal points. Your performance on the first section will determine the difficulty level of the next section. The questions within a section do not change. What varies is the overall weight of the section.

 

Math and verbal sections are divided into 3 levels: easy, medium and hard. Now, what are these difficulty levels? Well each question on the GRE is given a difficulty level ranging from 1 to 5. 1 means easiest and 5 means hardest. Here is a table showing the number of questions for each level of the section.

 

Difficulty Level (# of Questions)

 

Quant Easy Section

 

1(4), 2(8), 3(5), 4(3), 5(0)

 

*key: for the above Quant Easy Section there are 4 questions of difficulty level 1 (easiest), 8 questions of difficulty level 2 (easy), 5 questions of difficulty level 3 (medium), 3 questions of difficulty level 4 (hard) and 0 question of difficulty level 5 (hardest).

 

Quant Medium Section

 

1(1), 2(4), 3(8), 4(7), 5(0)

 

Quant Hard Section

 

1(0), 2(3), 3(3), 4(8), 5(6)

 

Verbal Easy Section

 

1(2), 2(10), 3(6), 4(1), 5(1)

 

Verbal Medium Section

 

1(0), 2(5), 3(5), 4(6), 5(4)

 

Verbal Hard Section

 

1(1), 2(1), 3(1), 4(6), 5(11)

 

The very first math and the very first verbal section that you get on the GRE exam are of a Medium difficulty level.

 

How does the GRE Test Adapt?

 

For Quant: If you get 15 or more questions correct on the first section, then the second section is a Hard difficulty level. If you score 10 or more but less than 15 questions correct on the first section, then the second section is a Medium difficulty level (same as the first section). And lastly, if you score less than 10 questions correct on the first section, then the second section is of an Easy difficulty level.

 

For Verbal: If you get 13 or more questions correct on the first section, then the second section is a Hard difficulty level. If you score 8 or more but less than 13 questions correct on the first section, then the second section is a Medium difficulty level (same as the first section). And lastly if you score less than 8 questions correct on the first section, then the second section is of an Easy difficulty level.

 

How much Does a Section Weigh?

 

A Hard section weighs nearly 3 times as much as an easy section, which means that getting 7 questions correct on a hard section is equivalent to getting all questions correct on an easier section. Hence, if you screw your first section, the next section will be easy and therefore carry less weight and even if you get all questions correct on the easier second section, you will not be able to get a higher score.

 

Here are some sample scores of actual GRE test takers that have been excerpted from their official test reports:

 

Sample 1

 

Quant first section: 15/20
Quant second section: 15/20
You score: 158

 

Verbal first section: 15/20
Verbal second section: 8/20
You score: 155

 

Sample 2

 

Quant first section: 7/20
Quant second section: 15/20
You score: 148

 

Verbal first section: 8/20
Verbal second section: 14/20
You score: 152

 

You can observe

….. from the quant scores of samples 1 and 2 that in each case the total number of correct questions was exactly the same (22) but the scores were markedly different. Again this is so because in sample 1, by getting 15 correct questions, the test taker gets a hard second section, which has a higher difficulty level and hence more weight. By getting less number (7) of correct questions on a harder section gets him more points then getting more number (15) of correct questions on a easier section.

 

Therefore, if you want to get a 160+ on quant you can get 9-10 questions wrong in total but no more than 5 incorrect in the first section. For instance, in the attached reports below the test taker got a 160 on quant with 16/20 on the first section and 15/20 on the second section. To get such a score on the verbal section you can get 13-15 questions wrong in total but no more than 7-8 wrong in the first section. So if you get 13/20 on the first section and 12/20 on the second section you will get a 160 on the verbal section.

 

To summarize the above findings:

 

Quant 165-170 at least 17/20 correct on each section
Verbal 165-170 at least 15/20 correct on each section

 

Quant 160-165 at least 15/20 correct on each section
Verbal 160-165 at least 12/20 correct on each section

 

Sample reports that corroborate these findings:

 

Report 1: Q 156 V 150

 

Here is the score report of a GRE test taker who got a 156 Quant and 150 Verbal. His breakdown was as follows: Quant 15/20 and 7/20, Verbal 9/20 and 7/20.

 

Report 2: Q 160, V 170

 

Here is the score report of a GRE test taker who got a 160 Quant and 170 Verbal. His breakdown was as follows: Quant 16/20 and 15/20, Verbal 19/20 18/20.

 

Report 3: Q 166, V 161

 

Here is the score report of a GRE test taker who got a 166 Quant and 161 Verbal: His breakdown was as follows: Quant 17/20 and 18/20, Verbal 14/20 and 14/20.

 

Report 4: Q 164, V 151

 

Here is the score report of a GRE test taker who got a 164 Quant and 151 Verbal: His breakdown was as follows: Quant 19/20 and 14/20, Verbal 9/20 and 10/20.

 

Report 5: Q 156, V 151

 

Here is the score report of a GRE test taker who got a 156 Quant and 151 Verbal: His breakdown was as follows: Quant 14/20 and 12/20, Verbal 11/20 and 7/20.

 

*GRE Scoring Algorithm: Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

106 Comments

  1. Avatar

    hi! If I get a score of 13/20 in the First Quantitative section amd 12/20 in the second Quantitative section, what score in QUANT can I expect?

  2. Avatar

    Hey. I got a 17/20 in the first Verbal section, and 14/20 in the second. What score in Verbal can I expect?

  3. Avatar

    If I hit 17/20 in the first Quantitative section and 15/20 in the second, what will be expected the score in Quant?

  4. Avatar

    I took the GRE two weekends ago and just received my diagnostic scores back. I was relatively surprised on the number of difficult questions in the first section of the Verbal section. On a scale of difficulty from 1 – 5 (with 5 being the hardest), 60% of my questions were 4s (9) and 5s (3). While in the first part of my math section, only 30% of the questions were 4s (5) and 5s (0) which makes more sense in terms of distribution of difficulty level with the first section of the exam. Is it possible that I had back luck and just got an usually more difficult first section of the verbal portion?

    • Avatar

      Hi Kyle – it is very surprising that you got this breakdown – just double check this issue with ETS. Thanks

    • Avatar

      I just received my diagnostic and had the same breakdown. Is this now the new norm?

  5. Avatar

    If I score 14/20 in the first Verbal Section and 6/20 in the second What is my Expected Verbal Score?

    • Avatar

      Around 152-154.
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  6. Avatar

    I am schedulled to take my GRE in November and I’m freaked out since math is not my strong area, how can I crack the test. any help can be emailed to wendymarleen94@gmail.com

    • Avatar

      Hello Marleen – you can check with Manhattan Basic quant guides for GRE – they are very helpful. Thanks

  7. Avatar

    If I got a verbal 13 on the first section and a 10 on the next, what would my score be?
    Likewise if I got a 12 on the first quantitative and a 12 on the second quantitative, what would my score be?

    • Avatar

      Around 155 in case 1 and 152 in case 2
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  8. Avatar

    For quant, if I score 19/20 in the first section and 14/20 in the second section, what score should I expect?

    • Avatar

      around 158-160
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  9. Avatar

    If i score 10/20 and 9/20 in verbal, what is the min score expected.

  10. Avatar

    For verbal I scored 15/20 on the first section and 9/20 on the second section
    For quant I scored 14/20 on the first section and 9/20 on the second section
    What would my scores be for each section?

    • Avatar

      155+ verbal and 152 quant
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  11. Avatar

    Hey Talha,

    How much does a question weigh in: an easy section, medium section and a hard section ? Or the question could be: how much does each one of the three types of section difficulties weigh ?

    • Avatar

      Hey Abeer – so all questions within a section weigh the same. The sections vary by difficulty

      A hard section weighs 3 times as much as an easy section
      A medium section weighs twice as much as an easy section.
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  12. Avatar

    Hello, in the quant section, if i score 14 on the first section and 16 on the second section, what score i’m i to expect?

    • Avatar

      Hello Samuel – you should expect a 156-158 on the test
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  13. Avatar

    Assalamualikum,

    If I score 15 in 1 section and 11 in second for quant,then?

    My manhattan quants scores are 159,159,161,159 what should i expect my real score to be?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar

      W.S. Syed, 156-158 for quant. Manhattan tests are very good predictors of your actual GRE score. I would say around 160 is what your score will be.
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  14. Avatar

    Hi
    If 6 in first verbal section and 11 in second verbal section

    • Avatar

      Hello – 145-148
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  15. Avatar

    Hello. I got 14/20 on the first section oficina verbal and 12/20 on the second section. What would be my score?

    • Avatar

      Hello Daniela, You will score around 156-158 on the GRE verbal section!
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  16. Avatar

    what is the number of questions I would need to get right out of 20 on the first section and the second section in order to score a 151? I’m also wondering the same thing for a score of 155.

    • Avatar

      Sorry, I should have clarified – For quantitative

    • Avatar

      Hey Anna – Thanks for writing.

      151 quant you need 12+ correct quant section 1 and 10+ on the second section.
      155 quant you need 15+ correct quant section 1 and 8+ on second section
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  17. Avatar

    Hello,

    On quant I got 9/20 right in the first section and 11/20 in the second section

    On verbal I got 11/20 in the first section and 11/20 in the second…

    What score can I expect on both sections ?

    Thank you!

    • Avatar

      Hello, For Quant you can expect a score between 142-146 on the actual GRE (given this performance). For Verbal you can expect a range of 154-158. Thanks!
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  18. Avatar

    Hello Talha,

    I am curious of what my score would be if in Verbal I scored a 12/20 on 1st section, and 6/20 on 2nd section.

    • Avatar

      Hello Jordan, Thanks for the message. Your score range will be between 148-152. Thanks
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  19. Avatar

    I’m not very good with quantitative – I did my first real practice exam and I got:
    9/20 in my first section
    7/20 in my second section

    Manhattan prep scored me at 151 (51st %tile), does this sound accurate? I not, what score should I have received?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    • Avatar

      Hello Anja – well 9/20 and 7/20 will translate to something between 140 and 144. So 151 is a much higher estimate. Thanks
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  20. Avatar

    Hi! Thanks for this information. I am very confused because I took the PowerPrep II (test 2) yesterday and got the following:

    Quant section 1: 14/20
    Quant section 2: 6/20

    Based on what you report above, I should expect above a 150-155, correct? The score I received was a 146. I am very confused. Thanks in advance!

    • Avatar

      Hello Elsa, Thanks for writing to me. Yes, indeed your score would have been in the 150-155 range, only if you would have scored at least 15 questions correctly on the first section of quant. Actually, the quant section adapts at 15 or more questions done correctly on section 1 of quant. In other words, if you would have got 15 or more questions correct on section 1, then your second section would have been harder and hence weighed more. So by just getting that 1 more question correctly on Section 1, your score would have been somewhere around 152-154. I hope it clarifies the confusion. Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  21. Avatar

    Hi!
    If I got a 14/20 on both quant sections, what score can I expect? Thank you!

    • Avatar

      Hello Chelsea. You should expect a 155-158. Thank you!
      Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  22. Avatar

    I have my test in November.
    I need to get 145 in verbal. Can you suggest me some possible ways.

    • Avatar

      Hello Kaushik, I ll advise you to go through all the Manhattan and ETS guides along with the GRE words over here: https://quizlet.com/217232800/gre-frequent-words-brightlink-prep-flash-cards/
      Also take the ETS mocks!

      • Avatar

        The link given by you does not exists any more. Even my verbal section is pretty weak. Suggest me some way out to score high in Verbal

        • Avatar

          You can start with ETS official guide for verbal and for vocabulary start with Barrons high-frequency words.

  23. Avatar

    Hello… Please assess my GRE scores: On ETS practice test, I got 20/20 questions correct on both quant sections and 16 and 11 on the two verbal sections. Thank you.

    • Avatar

      Hello Vinny, Quant 170 and verbal 160-164. Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

  24. Avatar

    I just did Barron’s GRE test and got the following : verbal – 16/20 and 17/20 and quants – 15/20 and 12/20. What would my score be? Is Barron’s 6 GRE practice book a good predictor?

    • Avatar

      Hello Jeet, So for verbal your score will be between 164-168 and for quant it will be 156-158. Thanks

      • Avatar

        Thank you . Is the Barron’s book a good estimating in your view?

        • Avatar

          You are welcome Jeet – I personally feel that Barron’s 6 tests are a little easier than what you will see on the actual test. In my opinion, Barron’s will overstate your performance on average 3-5 points per section. For better accuracy or prediction, I will suggest both ETS and Manhattan. ETS offers 2 free tests and Manhattan offers 1 free test that you can use to better gauge your level.

          Here is a link to the GRE Scoring Grid that will give you all the permutations of the GRE score.

          • Avatar

            Thanks a lot!!

          • Avatar

            My Pleasure!

  25. Avatar

    i have got 9/20 and 6/20 in verbal and 7/20 and 8/20 in quant. this is the firdt prep wxam i have written without practice. can i know the score for this??

  26. Avatar

    Hi Talha,

    I’ve noticed that the predicted scores are really inaccurate for power prep and manhattan prep practice tests (just based on your score grid). I trust your grid far more than I trust my predicted scores, but why is it that they’re so off? For example, I did a manhattan test tonight and got 7/20 on my first math section and 8/20 on my second, but then it told me my score was a 152, when according to your grid it should be a 138. Why is this? It’s really confusing me.

    • Avatar

      Hello Ana – thanks for writing to me with your concerns – I would honestly not rely on the Manhattan score. In fact the max that you could probably get on the quant section with this breakdown would be a 142-144. I am saying this only because GRE keeps tweaking its algorithm and scoring slightly from time to time. But 152 is way too much. 152 would be a score that you could probably get with a 13-14 on section 1 and 7-9 on section 2. In fact on power prep you would get somewhere around 143-144 with this combination. I hope it clarifies.

      • Avatar

        Thank you for your reply! Would you say the difficulty level of manhattan prep best prepares you for the GRE though? Or is power prep difficulty more accurate?

        • Avatar

          I ll say Manhattan prep’s questions (especially Math) is pretty much the actual GRE. Power prep is fine with the verbal level but not with the quant’s

  27. Avatar

    Hi if i get 16 correct in first quant 1st session and 16 correct in 2nd session what can be my predicted score and in 2nd case 15 correct in session 1 and 15 correct in session 2? Also in verbal if i get around 9/10 correct in both the sessions can i expect a score above 150?

  28. Avatar

    I Took a powerprep in which i scored 18/20 in both sections in quant. Still my overall score was 164/170. How?

  29. Avatar

    Hi Talha,

    Do you mind sharing what my score would be?
    Verbal 1: 15/20, Verbal 2: 13/20
    Quant 1: 13/20, Quant 2: 11/20

  30. Avatar

    Hi there,
    Can you tell me what my score for the quantitative section be if I got 11/20 on the first section, and 6/20 on my second section? And for verbal 17/20 and 12/20
    Thank you so much!

    • Avatar

      Hello Hanny,

      For quant, you will score in the range, 145-148
      For Verbal, 162-165

      • Avatar

        Thank you! 🙂

  31. Avatar

    Hi there!!
    Can you help me out? I scored a 13/20 on the first verbal section and a 9/20 for the second verbal section. For the quantitative section one I scored 5/20 and for section two 9/20.
    Thanks!!

    • Avatar

      Hello Verbal 156-159, for quant 138-142

  32. Avatar

    I’m starting to score in the 160s on my practice tests. For quant on my last test I received a 19/20 on the first section, and 10/20 for the second section. That score gave me exactly a 160. If I ace the first section approximately how many questions in the second quant would I need to get right to score a 166?

    • Avatar

      Hello – Well if you get 19 or 20 correct on first section, then you will need 16 or more on second section to get 166 or more!

  33. Avatar

    Hey, if I score a 13/20 in the first section and 18/20 in the second, what will be my verbal score?

  34. Avatar

    If i get 15 right on verbal part 1 and 11 on verbal part 2..kindly tell the tentative score

  35. Avatar

    If I score 15 on section 1 and 16 on section 2 of verbal what would be my approx score?

  36. Avatar

    if I write GRE , would it be totally on my luck that which difficulty level I encounter in my first session be it quant or verbal ? because my second session score totally depends on first one.
    further I was in view that first session can be a difficult or an easy level one, if it is difficult my second level would be easy and vice versa. but as per above data second one carries more weight in each case. so is it possible that 2nd session be easy than first and at the same time carry more weight than first one.??

    • Avatar

      No – the first section is of medium level for all students and then the second section depends on your first section’s performance.

  37. Avatar

    Hey, I gave an ETS power prep mock. I got one wrong in the first section of quat and got 4 wrong in the second section of quant and still only got a 161 on quant overall. How many questions can I get wrong to get a minimum score of 165 on both quant and verbal? thanks, Ujjwal

    • Avatar

      For 165+ you can get max 1 wrong in first section and 2 wrong in second section nowadays!

  38. Avatar

    I have taken 4 Manhattan mock tests recently and scored as follows
    Test 1: V(153) Q(163)
    Test 2: V(154) Q(166)
    Test 3: V(155) Q(164)
    Test 4: V(153) Q(166)

    What can I expect my final GRE score to be ?

    • Avatar

      Manhattan is pretty accurate – I would say around 165 quant and 153 verbal

  39. Avatar

    Hello, could you please calculate a GRE score for me?
    My breakdown was:

    Quant section 1: 11/20
    Quant section 2: 14/20

    Verbal section 1: 13/20
    Verbal section 2: 15/20

  40. Avatar

    if i got a 10/20 and 4/20 on verbal, whats my score?

  41. Avatar

    The article states, “So if you get 13/20 on the first section and 12/20 on the second section you will get a 160 on the verbal section.”

    This does not appear to be 100% accurate. I scored 15/20 and 14/20 on Verbal and received 159 on the verbal section.

    • Avatar

      Thanks Lisa, We are in the process of updating the table based on some recent scores!

  42. Avatar

    I took the GRE a couple weeks ago, and I only got 12/20 correct on the 1st Quant section, but this placed me in the hardest second Quant section: 1 (0), 2 (3), 3 (1), 4 (11), 5 (5). Why wasn’t I placed in the medium section? I only got 5/20 on the second section, which resulted in a score of 151.

    • Avatar

      Hi Lauren, So ETS keeps on tweaking the algorithm with time. However, if your level went up it is a good thing since fewer questions correct can still fetch you good points. As you can see that by just getting 5 correct you still managed a 151.

  43. Avatar

    I just wanted to write to say thank you! All this information was so incredibly helpful to me!

  44. Avatar

    Can you share an actual report fo someone who had around 155 in Verbal?

    • Avatar

      The reports above are the only ones we have been permitted to share!

  45. Avatar

    If I need to get a minimum score of 148 on Quant, how many questions would I need to get right in my first and second section? Thank you!

    • Avatar

      At least 10 questions on each section

  46. Avatar

    Hi, if I score 15 on first section and 12 on section 2 in math what would be my score ?

    • Avatar

      Hello – Around 156 on quant

  47. Avatar

    I am trying to improve my Quant score which seems stuck at 156. If I can score beyond a 90th percentile on Verbal, why can’t I do so on Quant?

    • Avatar

      You should focus on Manhattan guides and 5LB/ETS guides for quant. Also, do Manhattan 6 exams and ETS 4 exams as all are really good for practice.

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