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The Making of a Stellar Score on the GRE

describe the imageI often hear people wonder whether it is possible to increase one’s GRE score. They believe that a standardized test score is more or less set in stone, one’s score changing plus or minus two points depending on the day. This line of thinking is actually woefully inaccurate; with a combination of diligence, resources, and the proper approach, you can greatly increase your score. Indeed, I’ve seen a couple of Magoosh students increase their scores by 29 points. 

Mind you, I’m not trying to shamelessly promote our brand. Instead, I not only want do away with the thinking that one’s GRE score is immutable, but also show you how to make significant point increases to your current score.

An Important Question

So what is a good GRE score? Well, it is one in which you improve dramatically. What this means differs wildly on the situation. To illustrate, imagine two students who have gone up by 12 points. One goes from a 145 in both sections to a 151 in both sections; the other goes from 164 in both sections to a perfect score. Clearly, the latter is far more impressive, since any point increase you can attain once you are over 165 is amazing. The first student, by contrast, hasn’t really done too much for his competitive edge. Had that student increased by 24 points, on the other hand, then he has achieved a great score. He need not feel like he has to get in the mid-160’s to make his effort worthwhile; his scores will help him get into some decent programs.

The reason I mention this hypothetical student is I don’t want to give the impression that the only good score is one in the high 160’s and that everyone is capable of achieving that score. My experience has shown me that certain point increases are difficult to come by. Anything over a 30-point increase is exceedingly rare on the GRE.

How Do You Get Your “Good” GRE Score?


You’ve hard it countless times before, but it’s true: hard work is the only way to make big things happen. The GRE is no exception; you’ll need to apply yourself day and night, making sacrifices in your social life or your Netflix viewing. Relaxing to your favorite music might have to be replaced by listening to GRE vocabulary podcasts.


There is a plethora of bad material out there. Really speaking, anyone with a blog can start writing questions or pitching strategies. Always exercise caution and stick with trusted names and questions. (For helpful book reviews: Magoosh’s GRE book reviews).


This is, in many ways, the most important facet to improving your score; yet, it is often the subtlest. First off, don’t just do practice question after practice question. Understand your mistakes, and how the test writers create question. Learning the kind of answer choices that tempt you is important as well. Try out the strategies in a few different prep books to find out which one(s) suit you best. Finally, take plenty of practice tests so you can constantly see how you are improving and, more importantly, which parts of the test you need to focus on.


By combining the three elements above, you can witness dramatic increases in your GRE score. Of course, you will need plenty of time to see this happen. But during those periods where you aren’t improving, or aren’t improving as much, know that it is possible.

About the Author

This post was written by Chris Lele, resident GRE expert at Magoosh, a leader in GRE prep. For help with GRE vocabulary, check out our free flashcards and Vocab Wednesday videos on the Magoosh GRE Blog.