The conundrum of the GRE scores expressed in percentile, has to be put in perspective.
For example out of the max 170 if an examinee had scored let us say 168 in maths, he may be in the 95th percentile.
The next urge is to find out as to how many examinees would be placed above as competitors to those courses on offer. Consequently the total number of examinees who had taken the GRE from the 5th year preceding the first of July from the current year, have to be totalled. Therefore, assuming that 5 lakhs examinees had taken the test per year, the total examinees would be 25 lakhs. Therefore if one is in the 95th percentile, that examinee would come to the simple arithmetic conclusion that 5% of 25 lakhs are above him, which in this example would be 1,25,000.
Not at all.
The total numbers are, first of all that the 1,25,000 above are NOT EXAMINEES but scores, which could be that a person who scored 170/170 in quant might have taken the GRE multiple times to improve his English scores. Assuming that he had consistently scored 169 or 170 in all those 5 attempts but his English scores were either stagnant or incrementally improving, that person would, in the final analysis, be able to occupy only one seat, as it is the same examinee who had occupied the 96-99.9 percentile.
Therefore it may not be that 125000 students are above him to compete for seats in prime institutions.
Therefore, take 20% out as multiple test takers but the same person, those above would plunge to 1,00,000.
Next, since the scores are valid for 5 years, many in the last 4 preceding years would have found admission in colleges already in the last 4 years. Since we are talking of those who had scored 170 and 169 in maths, about 80% of that 100000 is to be knocked out, thus bringing the real competition to 20,000.
The pie is huge, with each university offering not less than 500 seats requiring maths, if purely calculated based on the GRE scores for the 50 top universities, the requirement would be 25,000.
This brings those who had scored 168/170 and just below into the pie of opportunity.
Hence, a score of 168/170 or thereabouts below, need not be as depressing, as the initial arithmetic showed.
One could make up for it with certificates of experience and recommendations.
Go with full vigour even if you guys have just below perfect scores. Of course, there may not be an opportunity for a particular course in the top 10 universities, but you would be still on top of the third world, than languish in an education system which predominantly does not support merit!