The GRE test is administered annually to thousands of eager students, all coming from different backgrounds, families, educations, and life experiences. Although these scores are a fairly accurate measurement of an applicant’s knowledge and abilities in specific areas, there are many things that must be considered when interpreting the scores compared to other applicants.
Institutions Look At The Whole Picture
Any institution or organization receiving GRE test scores are instructed to interpret the scores based on certain criteria. Although the numbers are black and white, there are areas in which those analyzing and comparing scores must consider outside of those hard facts. It’s also important to note that decisions should never be made based on GRE scores alone. Institutions and organizations consider different applicants on their whole package including undergraduate performance and recommendation letters.
The testers background is considered when analyzing scores. Many studies have been done to validate the use of GRE test scores but these studies have been conducted with available subjects. Students from non-traditional backgrounds and unique educational or cultural experiences might not have been captured accurately in the studies and should therefore be more carefully considered when interpreting test scores. Similar careful consideration should be done when analyzing test scores of persons with disabilities.
Of course any test-taker who’s first language is not English could also be effected by the GRE test, particularly the writing portions. While understanding of the English language is an important aspect to consider for admission purposes, institutions should carefully consider non-native English speakers when interpreting the test scores. Other considerations should be made such as performance on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
Official Score Interpretation
Test takers should have a basic understanding of how their performance is officially scored and analyzed. The verbal and quantitative reasoning results are scored on a scale from 130-170 in one point increments. The analytical writing section is scored from zero to six in half point increments based on overall quality and critical thinking skills.
Subject tests are graded on a much wider range and vary based on subject. Each subject has an overall score and is weighed for a percentage against other test-takers. There are also subscores for most subjects with different categories that may be considered as they indicate an individual’s strengths and weaknesses within that particular subject.