An Introduction to the GED

Adults who do not have a high school diploma may choose to pursue a GED. The GED Test is a series of exams used to assess knowledge and skills that are equivalent to a high school-level course of study. The GED credential is considered by many colleges and employers to be equal to a high school diploma.

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GED Introduction

Adults who wish to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma may take the General Educational Development (GED) Test in order to pursue postsecondary education or career opportunities. The GED consists of four separate exams covering: Science, Social Studies, Mathematical Reasoning, and Reasoning through Language Arts.

These exams assess written expression, as well as the ability to read, interpret and compute information. The GED is designed with the same difficulty level as that required to pass a standard high school curriculum.

Depending on the rules of the testing location, the entire battery of tests may be administered in one or two sittings, or a single test may be given at each session. In total, the four tests take about seven and a half hours to complete.

The GED is developed by the General Educational Development Testing Service (GEDTS), which is a program of the American Council on Education (ACE). While the GEDTS sets passing standards and administrative procedures related to the GED, the test itself is administered by jurisdictions (states, provinces and territories) in the U.S. and Canada at designated testing centers. Each jurisdiction awards the GED credential to those who pass the test and meet any additional requirements.

Am I Eligible to Take the GED?

To be eligible to take the GED, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are not currently enrolled in and have not graduated from high school.
  • You are at least 16 years of age.
  • You meet your jurisdiction's age requirement, which is 18 in some states.
  • You meet your jurisdiction's requirement for the length of time since leaving high school.
  • You fulfill your jurisdiction's residency requirement.

Where Can I Take the GED?

You must take the GED in-person at an official GED Testing Center. In the U.S., Canada and their territories, there are thousands of official GED Testing Centers. Community colleges, adult education centers, and local school boards typically operate these testing sites. There are several options for locating a testing facility in your area, including calling the GEDTS hotline and using the official GED Test Center locator.

How Can I Prepare for the GED?

If you are unsure about your ability to pass the GED, programs are available to help you assess your skill level and determine whether you need basic or intensive preparation for the test. Because the GED is a rigorous, 7+ hour test, some form of test preparation is recommended. In addition to local and online GED classes, GED prep books are available at bookstores and libraries.

What Score Do I Need to Pass the GED?

The GEDTS sets the minimum passing score for the GED Tests. The passing standard for the current GED test is an average standard score of at least 150 on each of the four subject area tests.

Test-takers should be aware that the GED scores required for admission to the college or university they wish to attend may be higher than their jurisdiction's minimum passing standards for the GED.

Upon receiving a passing score on the GED, you will receive a GED credential in the form of diploma or a certificate, depending on your state. Typically, your test scores will available within 24 hours of a subject area test's completion. The official GED transcript usually takes two to three weeks to arrive.

May I Take the GED More Than Once?

Many jurisdictions have special requirements for those who don't pass the GED the first time and who wish to take one or more of the tests again. These requirements may include one or more of the following:

  • A waiting period between the original test date and the retake, typically several months long
  • Payment of an additional fee
  • Proof of having attended a prep course between the original test and the retake

Can I Apply for Financial Aid for College With a GED?

College financial aid from the government is usually awarded based on demonstrated financial need. This aid is available to those with GED credentials just as they are to those with high school diplomas.

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