General Equivalency Degree (G.E.D.): An Overview

The General Educational Development credential, known as the GED, is not a degree but an alternative to a high school diploma. It certifies that you have demonstrated academic knowledge and skills equivalent to a high school graduate. You might consider taking the GED test to increase your job options or to apply to college or a technical school.

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Overview of the GED Exam

Am I Eligible to Take the GED Test?

States have different eligibility requirements for the GED. Generally, you must not have completed high school and must meet the minimum age requirement, which is 18. Most states offer exceptions for underage test takers; they are allowed to take the tests starting at age 16 if they provide different waivers or documents signed by school district officials and parents or guardians. Some states require you to be a state resident, but many do not. You can check the requirements of your state on the GED website, GED.com.

What Score Do I Need to Pass the GED Test?

To pass the GED test, you need to score at least 145 on each of the four test sections for a total score of at least 580. If you earn 175-200 points, you can receive college credit. If you score below 145 on any section, you can usually retake that part of the test two times without any waiting period. If you need to take a test section a third time, you will have to wait 60 days. There is no limit on the number of times you can test within a calendar year.

What's on the GED?

The GED test is a seven-and-a-half hour test that covers language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The test is taken on computer and it is offered in English and Spanish. The test can be taken all at one time, or you can take the following four sections individually, in whatever order you choose:

  • The Mathematical Reasoning test measures your ability to solve quantitative and algebraic problems. Questions on the 115-minute test include real-world problems with ratios, proportions and percentages, operations with rational numbers, factoring polynomials, linear inequalities and geometry problems involving surface area and volume. You can use a calculator and a formula sheet for most of the questions on the test.
  • The 150-minute Reasoning through Language Arts test gauges your reading and writing skills. Some questions ask you to read, interpret and analyze different informational and literary texts. Other questions may ask you to read and edit sentence fragments, incorrect capitalization and punctuation and other grammatical and usage errors. The test includes an essay that you have 45 minutes to organize, write and revise.
  • The Social Studies test uses reading passages and graphs, illustrations and tables to measure your ability to understand and interpret information on civics and government, U.S. history, geography and economics. The 70-minute test includes the ability to solve issues related to social science.
  • The Science test is 90 minutes and covers topics in life sciences, physical science and Earth and space science. The test evaluates how well you understand and analyze scientific information and the ability to solve problems related to science.

Where Can I Take the GED Test?

You must complete the GED test in person at an approved testing center. The test cannot be taken online, and you should be wary of any website that offers an online GED test. Tests are usually offered at colleges, universities, public schools, community education centers and workforce program offices. To locate a testing center, you can contact your state department of education or an adult education center. You can also find local testing centers on GED.com

How Can I Prepare to Take the GED Test?

If you feel that you would benefit from in-class training, GED test preparation classes are typically offered in every state. You can usually find GED prep classes through your state's adult education center or the National Literacy Directory. There is also an Adult Education Program locator tool on GED.com.

You may also prepare for the test by:

  • Reading practice books
  • Watching GED prep television programs
  • Completing official practice exams offered on GED.com

Why Take the GED?

The GED provides you with a path to further education and better employment opportunities. Research shows that about 98 percent of colleges accept the GED as part of their application process and about 97 percent of employers recognize this credential as being on par with a high school diploma.

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