How Do I Get My GED?

Passing the General Educational Development (GED) exam leads to a high school equivalency credential that can open up opportunities for both employment and postsecondary study. Read on to learn how you can earn your GED.


The GED exams are designed for adults over the age of 16 who have not earned a high school diploma or currently enrolled in secondary school. Passing the exams can lead to more career opportunities and admission to a college or university. Earning the GED credential is a great first step for adults seeking to advance educationally or professionally.

What to Expect

The GED exam takes approximately seven hours to complete, and it is made up of five subject area tests:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Language arts: writing
  • Language arts: reading
  • Social science

The tests include a combination of reading tasks, multiple choice questions and essays.

Preparing for the Test

Many people have the false impression that the GED exam is easy. In fact, individuals must demonstrate equal or greater knowledge than 60% of high school seniors in order to pass the test. It is, therefore, important to take preparing for the exam seriously.

Test preparation courses are offered at adult education centers across the country. These may be found at community colleges, high schools and other community centers. Self-learners can purchase books and study materials online. Free practice tests and study questions may be offered online as well.

You can learn more about test preparation options at the website of the American Council on Education (ACE) - the national organization that oversees the GED program (

Taking the Test

The GED exam is not currently offered online. However, ACE indicates that there are over 3,400 testing centers in the United States ( Testing opportunities can often be found in the same locations as test preparation centers.

The cost of the exam varies by state. Some states offer it for free, while others charge a nominal operations fee. How frequently tests are offered also varies based on the state and the individual testing center.

After the Test

Most testing centers will mail you a transcript of your scores within a few weeks of completing the test. Additional score reports can also be ordered by contacting your testing center or submitting a transcript request. The request form can be found on the ACE website.

In order to pass the exam, students must earn a minimum standard score of 410 on each subject test and an average standard score of 450 across all of the subject tests. If you do not pass the first time, you can retake one or more subject tests. However, some states require that you pay an additional fee. Many states also have a waiting period before you can retake the test; you may need to take a preparation course between attempts.

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