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Difference between unofficial and official GRE scores


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10 replies to this topic

#1 lifebeater10

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Posted 31 August 2009 - 06:13 PM

Has anyone ever gotten an unofficial GRE score that was different when the official scores were mailed to them? If so, what was the difference.?
Is this common or should I be happy with the marks I got?

Thanks in advance
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#2 misterpat

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 04:18 AM

What are unofficial scores? Do you simply mean the percentile rank? Because you aren't given that on test day. I have no idea what you are talking about. The scores you received after you take the test are official.
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#3 swisnieski

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 04:39 AM

What are unofficial scores? Do you simply mean the percentile rank? Because you aren't given that on test day. I have no idea what you are talking about. The scores you received after you take the test are official.


Nope, ETS says they are unofficial:

You will view unofficial Verbal and Quantitative scores at the test center; however, because of the essay scoring process, you will not view your Analytical Writing score at that time. Test centers cannot provide printed copies of score reports. Official Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical Writing scores will be sent to you and the score recipients you designated within 10 to 15 days after you take the test. Allow sufficient time for mail delivery from Princeton, New Jersey, USA. These scores are also available through the Scores by Phone Service. (SOURCE: http://www.ets.org/p... ... f95190RCRD)

I suspect this is just legal CYA though. I cannot imagine a circumstance under which scores would be changed for the worse after the student had already decided to send them to certain grad schools.
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#4 fuzzylogician

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 07:24 PM

Yep, sounds like legal talk for "we'll show them to you now but they're not official until another month has passed and we've mailed you the paper forms". I can't imagine the scores changing between when you see them at the end of the exam and when you get the forms at home -- how could they? They're calculated automatically based on your performance during the exam and that's not going to change once you're done.
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#5 misterpat

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 09:50 PM

The scores never change between your viewing them and receiving them in the mail. So the unofficial scores are always the same thing as the official scores.

They could probably prevent the confusion the OP experienced in the future by switching the terminology from "unofficial scores" to "unofficial score report." But then they'd never make money off of that phone service. 8)
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#6 javagdss

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 09:18 PM

On test day my verbal score was 710. I called for Scores By Phone today because I couldn't wait for my AWA score any longer, and they reported Verbal 700. Math was the same. So... either scores change or the Scores By Phone computer has issues. I can't imagine why or how.
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#7 zilch

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 10:22 PM

GRE scores are based on percentiles. What you see on test day is an estimate based on a comparison of your performance with previous data (and for the most part they're dead on given that ETS has been doing this for quite a while). Your official scores are calculated by comparing your raw scores with those of everyone who took that particular exam so it takes a while to come up with them and there is a chance that they may be different from the unofficial scores.
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#8 alexis

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 04:27 AM

GRE scores are based on percentiles. What you see on test day is an estimate based on a comparison of your performance with previous data (and for the most part they're dead on given that ETS has been doing this for quite a while). Your official scores are calculated by comparing your raw scores with those of everyone who took that particular exam so it takes a while to come up with them and there is a chance that they may be different from the unofficial scores.


Another interesting thing about percentiles: They can change over time, which I had no idea of until today. My official score chart from 2007 has me in the 85, 79, 73 percentiles on the 3 sections; I just ordered my GRE scores to be sent to the universities I'm applying to, and my percentiles had changed- in one case quite a bit! They are now 86, 78, and 81 percent. (Same raw score is unchanged: 600, 730, 5.0). The explanation on the report says they updated them on June 2009, I guess so admissions committees can compare old scores with the current data and include me with the people who've taken the test in the past two years. I'm glad I saw that, since I had to self-report some my percentiles on some of my applications, and my data would have been wrong.
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#9 psycholinguist

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 06:49 PM

They could probably prevent the confusion the OP experienced in the future by switching the terminology from "unofficial scores" to "unofficial score report." But then they'd never make money off of that phone service.

* laughs *

Another interesting thing about percentiles: They can change over time, which I had no idea of until today. My official score chart from 2007 has me in the 85, 79, 73 percentiles on the 3 sections; I just ordered my GRE scores to be sent to the universities I'm applying to, and my percentiles had changed- in one case quite a bit! They are now 86, 78, and 81 percent. (Same raw score is unchanged: 600, 730, 5.0). The explanation on the report says they updated them on June 2009, I guess so admissions committees can compare old scores with the current data and include me with the people who've taken the test in the past two years. I'm glad I saw that, since I had to self-report some my percentiles on some of my applications, and my data would have been wrong.

Really good to know. Thanks!
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#10 profound_g

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 11:54 AM

The explanation on the report says they updated them on June 2009, I guess so admissions committees can compare old scores with the current data and include me with the people who've taken the test in the past two years. I'm glad I saw that, since I had to self-report some my percentiles on some of my applications, and my data would have been wrong.


Thanks for writing this. If I have to report percentiles I'll keep this in mind.
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#11 peppermint.beatnik

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Posted 12 October 2009 - 06:08 PM

I know someone whose Verbal score went up by 10 points on the official report.
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