looked all over Excelsior's site, this site, and
GRE's site, and could not find the answer to something I've been wondering.
For the GRE subject exams, approximately what percentage of answers need
you get correct to achieve the 80th percentile?
required raw percentage score for a pass above the 80th percentile in a GRE
the bottom line answer is –
AIM FOR A MINIMUM 60% RAW AND YOU SHOULD BE IN THE CLEAR.
THE NITTY-GRITTY DETAIL
First, let’s recap that a raw score in this exam is the number of correct
answers minus one quarter of the number of incorrect answers. So if you
answer all 100 questions in an exam, and answer 60 out of the 100 questions
correct and 40 out of the hundred, incorrect, your raw score would be 60 –
(0.25x40) = 50 points, and your raw percentage score would be 50%.
That is; sixty points for sixty correct answers minus one-quarter point for
each of the forty incorrect answers, which is to say sixty take-away ten,
yielding fifty points or fifty percent raw score.
Raw score percentage required in the GRE subject exam for a percentile
score above 80th percentile, varies between exam subjects.
Look at the ETS publication, "PRACTICING TO TAKE THE: GRE Psychology
Test - 3rd Edition"
Based on prior real Psych exams containing 220 questions, a raw score band
126-128 is required. This is a raw percentage score of approximately 57%
and yields a standard score of 630, which represents a percentile score
above the 82nd percentile.
In the (alas, now defunct) GRE Political Science subject exam, where total
number of questions were typically around 170:
Look at the ETS publication, "PRACTICING TO TAKE THE: GRE POLITICAL
Based on prior Pol Sci exams containing 168 questions, a raw score band
94-97 is required. This is a raw percentage score of 56%, and yields a
standard score of 540, which represents a percentile score above the 83rd
Yet another Example:
GRE subject examination in Physics, where typically 100 questions are
Look at the ETS publication, "PRACTICING TO TAKE THE: GRE Physics Test
– 3rd Edition"
Based on prior GRE Physics exam papers containing 100 questions, a raw
score of 55. This is a raw percentage score of 55% and yields a standard
score of 740, which represents a percentile score above the 80th
When I sat the first two subject exams cited above, I found I had
insufficient time to answer anything like all of the questions. I failed to
answer (or even read) about 18% to 20% of the total in each exam. That is,
I answered about 178 out of 220 questions in the Psych exam and about 135
out of 168 in the Political Science exam. Time pressure was onerous.
Nevertheless, these truncated efforts still yielded results handily above
the ninetieth percentile.
Above meant to illustrate that there is more than one way to skin this cat.
This strategy might suit you, or alternatively, YOU may better balance
reflection and decision – I think there may be much to be gained by doing
so. Better management of time allotted for consideration of individual
questions and determining when it is time to move on. You could have a
lower hit-ratio (questions answered correct/questions attempted), yet
perform equally well, overall, in percentile terms, by knowing where to cut
your losses, and, if necessary, make an informed guess.