Earning Your South Dakota High School Diploma!

South Dakota offers different options for earning a high school diploma. Read on to find out more about traditional graduation requirements and options for earning a high school equivalency certificate in South Dakota.

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South Dakota High School Graduation Requirements

The South Dakota Department of Education requires students to earn 22 credits to graduate from high school. Core academic requirements include 4 credits in language arts, and 3 credits in math, 3 credits in science and 3 credits in social studies. In addition to those basic requirements students must also take a variety of health, physical education, art and personal finances courses, and complete a Capstone or a career and technical education training program to earn the credits needed to graduate.

South Dakota GED

If you did not graduate from high school, you can earn a General Education Development or GED Certificate which is commonly accepted as a high school equivalency diploma. To earn a GED Certificate, you must take the GED Exam, a battery of four separate tests that assess your knowledge and skills in language arts, social studies, science and math.

GED Eligibility Requirements in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the GED Exam is available to anyone who is 18 or older that does not hold a high school diploma or GED certificate. There are no special conditions or residency requirements. Underage candidates ages 16-18 can also take the GED if they have have submitted an underage testing waiver signed by a parent or guardian, have home school status, or are attending an in-school GED prep program.

Scores and Fees

To pass the GED, you need a minimum score of 145 on each of the four test sections, and a combined score of 580. You may retake any module of the test up to three times, after that there is a 30 day wait before retesting a fourth time. There are no limits on the number of retests allowed in one year.

In South Dakota, the fee for each test section is $32.50, and the entire GED Exam costs $130. There are two discounted retake fees available for each subject area if taken within 12 calendar months of the initial test.

The GED Exam is taken on computer. The four tests have a variety of multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank and hot spot questions. There are also several different types of essay and extended-response questions. You can take the GED in either English or Spanish, and you can take the entire test in one day, or you take take the following test sections separately, in any order:

  • Mathematical Resoning - This is a 115-minute test that covers topics in arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Questions use real-life situations to present problems that involve percents, proportions, ratios, fractions and decimals. Questions also ask you to calculate the perimeter, area and volume of geometric figures and to evaluate, factor and solve algebraic expressions, equations and problems with inequalities. For most of the questions, you can use a formula sheet and a calculator.
  • Reasoning Through Language Arts - This test assesses both your reading ability and your writing skills. Some questions are based on reading selections and ask you to summarize ideas, draw conclusions and determine the author's point of view. Other questions require you to revise written selections and correct problems and errors in organization, sentence structure, verb tense, capitalization and punctuation. The language arts test is 150 minutes and includes a 45-minute section that requires you to draft and write an essay.
  • Science - The GED science test requires you to demonstrate your ability to understand, explain and use scientific information and concepts. The test is 90 minutes and covers topics in life sciences, Earth and space science and physical science. Questions ask you to evaluate data and conclusions, interpret scientific information and apply scientific theories and principles. There are two extended response questions that require you to evaluate scientific ideas and evidence.
  • Social Studies The 70-minute Social Studies test section measures your ability to understand and interpret ideas and information on civics and government, U.S. history, geography and economics. The test uses a variety of reading selections, graphs, maps charts and illustrations, and questions ask you to explain and evaluate texts and visuals. As part of the test, you are also required to write a short essay.

Registration and Testing

You can register for the GED Exam on the GED Testing Service website. The site has a list of South Dakota test centers, and you can find a center located near you and schedule your tests online. You must take the GED tests in person at an official GED test site. The GED Exam cannot be taken online.

Preparing for the GED

Study resources, sample questions, practice tests and information about online GED prep courses are available on GED.com.

If you need additional help studying for the tests, free and low-cost classes and tutoring are offered through South Dakota's Adult Education program. You can find a list of Adult Education centers on the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation website.

Online Accredited High School Programs

Additionally, you may be able to earn your diploma through an online accredited high school program. However, while there are some legitimate online high school programs, there are many more online high school diploma scams that charge high fees for diplomas that require minimal multiple-choice testing. Diplomas from these programs are not accepted by colleges and may not be accepted by many employers. The Federal Trade Commission advises anyone who is considering an online high school diploma option to research the organization or company offering the program and to check with the local Better Business Bureau to see if the program is legitimate, and if the diploma is a valid credential.

Why Get a Diploma in South Dakota?

Earning your high school diploma in South Dakota will give you the skills and knowledge valued by employers. With these opportunities comes a higher income level and more job security in the workforce. There is a direct correlation between earning your high school diploma and an increase in employment and economic advantages. According to 2016 findings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers without a high school diploma had the highest unemployment rate (7.4%) and lowest income earnings among all education levels. A 2016 study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) also found a correlation between employment rates and high school graduation for 20- to 24-year-olds. High school graduates attained a 69% employment rate, while non-graduates only held a 48% employment rate.

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