The Graduate Record Examination is a standardized test required by most graduate schools as part of the admissions process. This test measures your verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing abilities. The verbal and math sections use the same scoring guideline. Your maximum combined score on these sections is 340. Your maximum score on the writing section is six. Your scores are valid for five years.

Scoring Basics

When you choose a correct answer on a question in the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections, you receive one point. Incorrect answers have no penalty. While the test is adaptive and changes to give you more difficult or easier questions based on your performance, all questions have the same weight. You can skip questions, return to questions and change your answers. Only a correct answer will affect your score.

Section Scores

Both the verbal and quantitative reasoning sections are scored on a scale of 130 to 170 points. Points are earned in one-point increments. When you take the computer-based GRE, you take a section-level adaptive test. On the first part of both the verbal and math section, you receive moderate-level questions. Based on your performance, your second section will be either harder or easier. After completing both sections, you earn a raw score based on the number of questions you answered correctly. This raw score is then converted into a scaled score.

Scaled Score

Your raw score measures the number of correct answers you had on both sections. This score is then taken and converted into a scaled score. The reason for the scaled score is to reflect a normalized level of performance regardless of when you took the exam. This internal process takes into account the variations of difficulty between test-takers and it reflects your level of performance regardless of which second section you received. The scaled score also makes it possible to compare test scores between different editions of the GRE. When you receive your scores in the mail, you receive your percentile ranking, your scaled score and your scaled scores on the prior scale, which was changed in August 2011. This allows you to compare your score despite the change in scoring. You do not receive your raw score.

Analytical Writing Section

The first section of the GRE, analytical writing, is scored on a scale of zero to six points. Scores are given in half-point increments. To determine your score on the analytical writing section, two trained readers read your essays and rate your writing. If the two reader’s scores differ by more than one point, a third reader is used. The discrepancy is adjudicated by the third reader. If there is less than a one point difference between the two scores, their scores are averaged. Scores are rounded to the nearest half-point. When you receive your score, you will receive your score along with percentile ranking. This score is not scaled.