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The GED is accepted by most employers and postsecondary institutions as a high school equivalent. The test consists of four exams, covering mathematical reasoning, science, social studies and reasoning through language arts. The tests are mostly multiple choice questions, but there are also alternate formats such as drag and drop, fill in the blank and short answer. Extended responses might also be required. Alternate format questions ask students to complete tasks like plotting information on an X,Y grid or inputting number values. Most questions appear in the context of day-to-day situations.
The GED cannot be taken online. The GED Testing Service, the division of the American Council on Education that develops the GED tests, stresses that no GED exam offered online is legitimate. Like similar tests that represent nationally recognized standards of education, the GED is regulated to prevent cheating and therefore must be taken in person. While the test itself cannot be taken online, preparation materials are available online.
The test can be administered Spanish and French in addition to English. Those taking non-English versions of the exam may also be required to pass an English as a Second Language (ESL) exam depending on a state's requirements. Not all testing sites administer non-English versions of the tests.
As of 2014, the test is scored on a scale of 100-200 points, with the passing standard being 150 points for each of the four sections of the test for a required total of 600. A score of 170 in each section is needed for career or college readiness. A score with Honors would be 170 or higher.
The difficulty level of the test is equal to that of high school. Students will be awarded a high school equivalency diploma or certificate. The GED Testing Service issues official test transcripts upon request, which can be used to apply to colleges or jobs. In addition, some states issue a state high school equivalency diploma or certificate to adults who pass the GED.