General Education Diploma Information

The General Educational Development (GED) credential, sometimes referred to as the General Education Diploma, is earned by passing a series of high school-level tests in reading and writing, social studies, science and math. In most states, students must be at least 17 years old to take the GED; however, some states allow 16-year-olds to attempt the tests.

General Education Diploma Overview

The GED is a program of the American Council on Education (ACE), which is the sole developer of the tests. The GED began in 1942, and since then, more than 18 million people have earned their GED credentials, according to ACE (www.acenet.edu). The GED essentially is offered as an alternative to a high school diploma for students who, for whatever reason, have not graduated from high school. It's available in all 50 states and accepted by 98% of colleges nationwide. To pass the GED, students must receive an average score of 500 out of a possible 800 points, with no single subject test score dipping below 410. Some states may have slightly different score requirements. The test is split into five sections.

Language Arts: Reading

The student's ability to interpret academic and workplace reading selections is measured through this section. The multiple-choice test consists of 75% literature selections, like poetry and drama, and 25% nonfiction. Students are graded on the areas of analysis, comprehension, application and synthesis.

Language Arts: Writing

The first section of this test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions, which must be completed in 75 minutes. The second section requires an essay, for which 45 minutes is allowed. The multiple-choice questions test the student's skills in correct word usage and mechanics, such as punctuation and capitalization. The essay judges the student's ability to write an explanatory or informational piece using correct grammar rules.

Social Studies

Students have 70 minutes to complete the 50 multiple-choice questions in this section. This exam tests the student's skills to interpret geographic, economic, historical and civic concepts and principles through writing and visual academic concepts.


Like the social studies section, the science exam tests the student's ability to understand and interpret scientific information provided to him or her. Physics, chemistry, Earth and space science are included in this test.


Students may use a calculator to complete the first part of this two-part, 50-question test, which is allotted 45 minutes for each part. This test measures the student's reasoning and analytical skills using numbers, charts, word problems and diagrams. Content includes number operations and sense, geometry, data analysis, statistics, probability, algebra, patterns and functions. Mental math knowledge is tested in the second part.

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