The GRE scoring process for the computer-based version of the GRE has two components. The multiple-choice questions are graded immediately. Because the GRE is a computer-adaptive test, your final score is not simply the number of questions you answer correctly. Instead, the computer takes into account the number of questions answered, the difficulty of the questions answered correctly, and the number of questions answered correctly. You will get more credit for answering tough questions correctly than for answering easy questions correctly. The result of the computer’s calculations is a scaled GRE score between 200 and 800.
As you might expect, the average score is around 500. You will receive individual scores for the Verbal and Quantitative sections, as well as a total score. The scoring of the Analytical Writing section takes a little more time. Each of your essays will be read by two trained scorers, who will assign a number from zero to six. In general, the scoring rubric places more emphasis on coherence and style than on spelling and grammar, although you may be penalized if your essay contains flagrant and repeated errors. The two GRE scores for each essay are averaged, and then the two averages are combined to produce a total score for the Analytical Writing section. In the rare case that the two readers of an essay disagree by more than a point, a third reader is called in to arbitrate.
Receiving Your GRE Scores
Now that the GRE is available in a computer-based format, multiple-choice scores can be reported immediately after the test is complete. The Analytical Writing section, on the other hand, requires subjective evaluation, so essay scores are not available until a few weeks after the exam. The preliminary score report available on the day of the exam is unofficial and will not be sent to graduate school admissions departments. Once your scores have been double checked and the Analytical Writing assessment has been scored, an official score report will be mailed to you and to any relevant admission departments. This process usually takes between ten and fifteen days following completion of the exam. The scoring process for paper-based examinations takes a bit longer. These exams have to be sent off to a special scoring center and will not be fully graded until four to six weeks after the day of the exam, at which point an official score report will be sent to you and all relevant admission departments. If you are taking any of the GRE subject tests along with the General Test, you can elect to have your scores sent together or separately. It is not necessary to send the results from every examination to every school. For instance, if a certain school does not require a specific subject test, you may elect to send only your General Test scores there.
Repeating The GRE
One of the great things about the GRE is that if you are not happy with your performance, you are allowed to take the exam again. In fact, you can take the test once every month, though no more than five times in a given calendar year. Registering for a second or third exam is the same as registering for the first, and the same requirements for photo identification apply on the day of the exam. Although many students are unsatisfied with their scores and elect to take the exam again, it should be noted that very few students see an enormous improvement in their performance on subsequent exams. For most students, the improvement is slight. However, very few students have lower scores when they take the GRE test again. In general, you should only expect a big improvement if you did not understand a question format or were sick the first time you took the exam. In addition, you should be aware that as soon as you sign into the testing center on the day of your exam, your test scores from that day are a part of your permanent GRE record. If you decide to take the test again in the future, your new scores will join all of your old scores on the official score report sent to graduate school admissions departments. It is good to know that you can take the GRE again if necessary, but the best strategy is to study hard, familiarize yourself with the question formats, and try to do your best the first time.