Everyone taking the GRE has wondered what a good score is. Is a GRE score of 315 good or bad? What is the current 315 GRE score percentile, and what does this say about your performance on the test?
Keep reading to learn just how good a 315 GRE score is in terms of both GRE percentiles and average scores for graduate programs. We’ll also look at how important it actually is to get a 315 GRE score and what you can do to ensure you reach your score goals on test day.
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Is a GRE Score 315 Good or Bad?
First things first, is 315 a good GRE score, generally speaking?
The truth is that most graduate programs won’t look at your total GRE score out of 340; instead, they’ll look at your individual Verbal and Quantitative scores.
Therefore, how good a 315 GRE score is will depend primarily on the following factors:
- The Verbal and Quant percentiles you scored in
- What your program is expecting in terms of GRE scores
Let’s start by looking at percentiles. Percentiles show us what percentage of test takers you scored higher than on a particular GRE section. The higher your percentile is, the better you performed relative to other test takers and the more competitive your score will be.
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ETS calculates percentiles for the GRE sections (Verbal, Quant, and Analytical Writing) every year, with small variations due to changes in the difficulty of the tests.
As you might have guessed, how your Verbal and Quant scores add up to 315 can vary significantly. For example, you could get fairly similar scores, such as 157 on Verbal and 158 on Quant. Or you could get completely different scores, such as 150 on Verbal and 165 on Quant.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to aim for a higher score on the GRE section that’s more relevant to your field of study. So humanities and social sciences majors should focus on earning an impressive Verbal score, whereas STEM majors should focus on getting a high Quant score. We’ll go over this idea in more detail later.
The following table shows a 10-point range for common Verbal and Quant scores that add up to 315, along with their respective percentiles:
As you can see from this chart, Verbal percentiles range from the top 9% to the top 39%, while Quant percentiles range from the top 20% to the top 50%.
You likely noticed that Verbal percentiles are consistently higher than Quant percentiles. This difference is due to the fact that more people score highly on Quant than they do on Verbal, making Quant a more competitive GRE section. In other words, you’d need to score more points on Quant than you’d need to on Verbal if you wish to get into the same percentile bracket.
So what do these percentiles mean for test takers? In general, any score above the 50th percentile (median) can be considered a “good” score, and any score above the 75th percentile can be considered a “great” score.
Nearly all of the Verbal and Quant scores in the chart above meet this criterion for “good” GRE scores (the only exception is 153 for Quant). Moreover, Verbal scores at 157 or higher and Quant scores at 160 or higher can be called “great” GRE scores.
Although percentiles can be useful for seeing how your performance compares with that of other test takers, they don’t indicate how good a 315 GRE score is for you specifically. To figure this out, you’ll need to look beyond GRE percentiles and at the specific grad programs you’re applying to.
GRE Score 315: What Are Your Chances of Admission?
Percentiles can be useful, sure, but what’s more useful is figuring out what kinds of GRE scores the programs you’re applying to want.
The best way to find this info is to look for your graduate programs’ average GRE scores (i.e., the average scores of admitted applicants). A good GRE score for you will be a score that’s at or above your programs’ averages.
For instance, if one of your programs has an average GRE score of 315, getting at least 315 will make you a competitive applicant and raise your chances of getting accepted. By contrast, getting a GRE score lower than 315, such as 310 or 305, will very likely decrease your odds of getting in.
Follow the steps in our guide to setting a GRE goal score to figure out what score you should aim for.
Now, how competitive is a 315 GRE score, really? The tables below give examples of popular grad programs and their average GRE scores.
These programs are divided into three categories:
- Target schools — programs for which a GRE score of 315 would make you a competitive applicant
- Reach schools — programs for which you’d need higher than 315 if you wish to be a competitive applicant
- Safety schools — programs for which you’d have a great chance of getting in with a 315 GRE score
|School / Program
|Average GRE Score
|University of Florida — Electrical and Computer Engineering MS
|UC Riverside — Computer Engineering
|Colorado State — Master of Finance
|University of Southern Mississippi — Clinical Psychology
|Louisiana State — Master of Business Administration (MBA)
|Boston University — Theological Studies PhD
|Cornell — Master of Public Affairs (MPA)
|School / Program
|Average GRE Score
|Fordham University — International Political Economy and Development MA
|Emory — Political Science PhD
|University of Minnesota — Business Administration PhD
|UT Austin — Energy & Earth Resources Graduate Program
|University of Michigan — Aerospace Engineering PhD
|School / Program
|Average GRE Score
|Rush University — Nurse Anesthesia (DNP)
|Texas A&M — Geology and Geophysics
|University of Washington — Communication PhD
|Colorado State — Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
|University of Illinois — Occupational Therapy MS
How Important Is Getting a 315 GRE Score?
How important it is for you to get a 315 GRE score will mostly depend on the programs you’re applying to and how important they consider GRE scores to be.
Typically, top-ranked and highly competitive programs place more emphasis on GRE scores than do less selective programs. Why? The more selective a program is, the more application factors it’ll need to consider in order to evaluate candidates and choose whom to admit.
If one or more of the grad programs you’re applying to is extremely competitive and has a 315 GRE average, it’ll be critical that you get at least 315 on the GRE. Not getting this score would make you a lot less competitive and could very well reduce your chances of getting accepted (though it doesn’t necessarily make it impossible) since you won’t be perceived as being as qualified as other applicants.
Furthermore, master’s programs tend to stress GRE scores in the admissions process more than doctoral programs do. This is most likely a result of the fact that doctoral programs will usually pay more attention to applicants’ relevant research and/or work experiences than they will standardized test scores. Because master’s applicants typically have less experience in their fields, the GRE will often play a bigger role in admissions for them.
It should also be noted that many graduate programs, such as MFA programs, do not strongly consider GRE scores—and might not require them at all! With these programs, getting below 315—even if it’s the average score—most likely won’t hurt your application too much, if at all. As long as your portfolio and major application components are strong, you should have a solid shot at getting in.
The last factor you’ll want to consider is which GRE section (Verbal or Quant) is more important and relevant to your program and field of study as a whole. Most grad programs will pay significant attention to either your Verbal or Quant score—with some not even bothering to look at the less relevant score. As a result, it’s not usually as important to get a 315 GRE score overall as it is to get a high score on the section more relevant to your field and programs.
Verbal scores will typically be more important for reading-heavy programs, such as those in the humanities and social sciences, whereas Quant scores will carry more weight for math and science programs.
For instance, a well ranked economics PhD program with an average 315 GRE score would most likely prefer a high Quant score and at least an average Verbal score. Therefore, getting something like 164 on Quant and 151 on Verbal (adding up to 315) would be a lot better than getting 155 on Quant and 160 on Verbal (also adding up to 315).
How to Score 315 on the GRE
Scoring 315 on the GRE isn’t just about taking the test and praying for the best—you’ll need to come up with a solid GRE study plan that’s catered to your weaknesses.
Since you already know what your GRE goal score is (315), all you’ll need to find is your baseline score (i.e., what you’re currently scoring on the test without any prep). To do this, simply take an official GRE practice test and then record your score.
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Now that you have your baseline and goal scores, it’s time to calculate approximately how many hours you’ll need to dedicate to GRE prep.
The table below should give you a rough idea of the number of hours you’ll need to study in order to make the (total) point improvement you need on the GRE. (This point improvement is the difference between your target GRE score—in this case, 315—and your baseline score.)
Note: The following score improvements are for the GRE as a whole and not for each section. So if you studied a total of 160 hours for a 20-point gain, you could raise your Verbal score by 10 points and your Quant score by 10 points, or your Verbal score by 18 points and your Quant score by 2 points, etc.
|Total Point Improvement
|# of Study Hours
The last step is to divide the total number of hours you have to study by the number of weeks before your GRE test date. Doing this will give you a rough number of hours you must study per week.
For example, if my plan is to study 160 hours and I have four months (16 weeks) before my GRE, I’d divide 160 by 16 to get 10 hours of prep per week.
Make sure you’re doing everything you can in your prep so that you’ll be able to hit your GRE goal score of 315 on test day. Here are some of our top tips to keep in mind as you study:
- Familiarize yourself with the GRE test format: You don’t want any surprises on test day, so spend some time getting used to the kinds of questions, content, and structures you’ll see on the GRE.
- Prep using high-quality materials: You won’t learn much if you’re not using the very best resources for your studying. Stick with highly rated GRE prep books and ETS materials, such as official practice tests, whenever possible.
- Figure out which GRE section is more important for you: Remember that just one of the GRE sections (Verbal or Quant) will carry the most weight in the admissions process, so make an effort to study a little bit more for the section more relevant to your field.
- Learn some key strategies: Before you take the exam, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get down important test-taking strategies, such as how to guess on hard questions and how to best use your time.
If you’re aiming even higher than a 315 GRE score, or if you just want to ensure that you’ll get this score, here are a couple more tips:
- Closely analyze any mistakes you make: You’ll never get a high GRE score if you can’t figure out where you’re going wrong in your exam prep. Take time to slowly and carefully go over the mistakes you make in your practice and to understand where you might be struggling in your approach.
- Target your biggest weaknesses: Try to narrow down any specific question types or content areas that seem to be causing you the most difficulty, and then practice these over and over until you get them right.
Maybe a 315 GRE score isn’t high enough for your programs. Check out our in-depth guides to learn what kinds of programs expect a 320 GRE score and a 330 GRE score, and to get critical tips on how you can reach these score levels.
What is a good GRE score for Verbal Reasoning? For Quantitative Reasoning? Take a look at our expert guides to learn everything you need to know about getting great Verbal and Quant scores for your grad school applications.