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What Does the Term ‘Percentile’ on Your GRE Score Report Mean?

An important component of your GRE Score Report, second to the actual scores, is the ‘percentile’.

With a term like that on your score report, confusions are nothing unusual. Let’s find out what percentile is and how does it affect you.

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At this stage, you might be wondering, “Percentile is just a fancy name for percentage, isn’t it?” It is not. Technically, the percentile is a measure of relative standing that indicates the corresponding value below which a given percentage of observations in a cluster of observations fall.

Your GRE Test Taker Score Report says “A percentile rank for a test score indicates the percentage of test-takers who took that test and received a lower score.” In layman’s terms, it tells what percentage of the test takers scored below the score one obtained. For instance, if 80% of the total applicants’ score is below yours, you are at the 80th percentile.

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This is one of the most commonly used measures of comparison that tells you a lot about a specific entity, yet does not tell you much about the number of entities or their individual values. If a score is at the 50th percentile, it means 50% of the candidates scored less than that. Earning a score at the 100th percentile is mathematically impossible as one cannot score more than 100% of all applicants, which includes that candidate too.

On the GRE, the percentiles for Quant reasoning and Verbal reasoning have different connotations. As per the latest ETS data, a perfect score of 170 in Quant is at the 96th percentile, telling us that close to 4% of the total examinees scored a 170. On the other hand, a score of 169 or 170 on the verbal section is at the 99th percentile, which means only 1% of all examinees got a score of 169 or 170.

GRE Percentile Ranks are subject to change as it directly depends upon the population of the test takers. To view GRE Percentile rank for a particular score, click here.

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