In this video Lee Weiss, Director of Graduate Programmes at Kaplan and also a long time GRE instructor, talks about how score distribution works on the GRE.

The normal distribution is one of the things you need to know for the quantitative reasoning sections of the GRE. The lowest and highest scores you could possibly get in either a quantitative or verbal section are 130 and 170, respectively. Therefore, the average score is around 150. The key takeaway that you should understand is that because there are so few questions on this test, essentially 40 scored math questions and 40 scored verbal questions, getting a couple of extra questions right is going to put you ahead of a massive number of other test takers.

For instance, if you’re scoring at around the 50th% ail on the quantitative side, for instance 149, getting 2 or 3 more questions right could put you in the 60th% ail, which is going to move you ahead of tens of thousands of other prospective graduate students and you’d have a much better chance at graduate school admissions and financial aid that comes with it.

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If you’re scoring at the high end, for example you’re at the 90th%, getting a few more quantitative questions right can put you into the 95th% ail ahead of many test takers again and really set you up for elite graduate programmes and great scholarship opportunities.

Again, the conclusion is that small differences in score are going to get you very big differences over the competition and, because everything is so tightly clustered together, it’s to your advantage to get ahead of that competition by not making careless errors and by doing everything you can to get a couple of incremental questions right.

Check out: Average GRE Scores at the Top US B-Schools