GED Classes: Is Taking a GED Prep Class Necessary?

If you're planning to take the General Educational Development (GED) tests, you'll need to study four subject areas: science, mathematics, language arts and social studies. While your state may not require you to take a formal GED class, most GED candidates take the time to thoroughly prepare for this set of comprehensive exams.

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How Can Taking a GED Preparatory Course Help Me?

Passing the GED tests is a way to earn a secondary school credential without graduating from a traditional high school. The GED is a seven-and-a-half hour exam with four separate test sections that measure knowledge and skills that are expected of high school graduates. The GED exam is taken on computer and offered in English and Spanish.

Only a few states require that GED candidates to take a prep course before sitting down to take the tests. However, enrolling in a preparatory course can help familiarize you with what is on the test, the types of questions you will be asked and the computer format now being used for the GED. And a prep course might help increase your scores.

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What Do I Need To Study?

Everyone brings his or her own individual set of knowledge and skills to the GED exam. To understand what you might need to study in order to pass the GED, you should be familiar with the following four test sections:

Reasoning Through Language Arts

The Reasoning through Language Arts section of the GED tests you reading and writing skills. Questions that focus on reading evaluate your ability to comprehend and analyze information in different types of literary and informational texts. Question centered on writing skills ask you to edit written selections and eliminate errors such as run-on sentences, misplaced modifiers and other problems such as incorrect punctuation and capitalization. As part of the 150-minute test, you will have 45 minutes to draft and write an essay. You will be given a topic and then evaluated on your ability to organize and develop your ideas using proper sentence structures and word choices.

Science

This 90-minute test uses text, graphs, tables and diagrams to test your skills in Earth and space science, life sciences and physical science. You'll be assessed on your grasp of basic concepts, such as scientific evidence and data collection. The Science test includes two short essay questions that measure how well you summarize scientific and technical information and support ideas with evidence.

Social Studies

The Social Studies test contains questions on national history (which can vary depending on if you're in the U.S. or Canada), government, geography and economics. GED tests require you to understand, interpret and evaluate information about historical and political periods like the Great Depression, the Civil War and American colonization. The test is 90 minutes and requires a 25-minute essay.

Reasoning Through Mathematics

The Reasoning Through Mathematics test section of the GED assesses your skill at solving quantitative and algebraic problems. Questions include multi-step arithmetic problems with rational numbers, ratios, proportions and percents. The test also measures other skills such as your ability to factor polynomials, calculate the area and volume of geometric figures, solve real-life problems involving inequalities and identify functions on tables and graphs. The Reasoning Through Mathematics test is 115 minutes, and you can use a calculator and a formula sheet for most of the questions.

Where Can I Find a GED Test Prep Class?

Most states and jurisdictions offer free or low-cost GED prep courses and tutoring through adult education programs and networks. The GED Testing Service has a database of adult education centers on its website, Ged.com. You can search for a center located near you.

Are There GED Prep Classes Online?

Several GED prep courses are available online. There are now 17 states that offer i-Pathways, an online GED prep program that provides students with feedback and support from teachers.

Kentucky Educational Television also has an online GED prep course, Fast Forward, which offers instructional videos, step-by-step lessons, interactive animation and a wealth of practice materials. Fast Forward is a subscription program and the enrollment fee is $65.

Some states offer their own distance learning GED prep courses and education publishers are now developing more online prep programs. You might also prepare for the GED test by taking the official practice test, which is offered by the GED Testing Service and is available online. Your score can allow you to gauge what areas you need the most improvement on for the real test.

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