Good Enough Diploma (G.E.D.): What Is This?

Although you may have heard the GED referred to as the Good Enough Diploma, the abbreviation actually stands for General Educational Development. If you pass the GED exam, which has four separate test sections, you can receive your high school equivalency certificate.

GED Test Overview

The GED test is a seven-and-a-half-hour test with four separate sections that cover language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The test was launched in 1942 by the American Council on Education to help World War II veterans who left school to serve in the military earn an alternative high school diploma. Although the test has been revised three times over the years, with each new version adding more requirements and challenging material, for decades the GED was often jokingly called the good enough diploma because it was usually enough to get a job or to start a post-secondary training program.

However, in 2014 the British publishing and education company, Pearson, released a new version of the GED test aligned to the Common Core Standards, a set of rigorous K-12 academic standards that have been adopted by most states in the hope of improving public education. The new GED test requires candidates to demonstrate a new depth of knowledge and higher-level thinking skills.

Eligibility Requirements and Passing the Test

Generally, to qualify for the GED, you must be 18 and no longer enrolled in high school. Most states allow candidates who are 16 or 17 to take the test if they provide certain types of documentation, such as an official withdrawal from high school form and a letter of consent signed by a parent or guardian. Specific state requirements and testing fees can be found at GED.com.

To pass the GED test, you need to score of at least 145 on each of the four sections and a total score of 580. If you earn between 175 -200 points on a test section, you can earn college credit.

If you score below 145 on a test section, you can retake it twice without any waiting. However, if you need to take a test section a third time, you will have to wait 60 days to retest. There is no limit to the number of times you can take a test in any given year.

About the Test Content

The GED test is now taken on computer at official test centers. The GED Testing Service has a database of testing sites throughout the United States and Canada. You can find a test center located near you at GED.com. The test must be taken in person at a test center and cannot be taken online. You can take the GED test in English and Spanish and there are accommodations for test takers with special needs.

The 2014 GED uses a variety of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drop-and-drag and hot-spot questions. The Reasoning Through Language Arts section of the test measures your reading and writing skills and includes an essay that you have 45-minutes to draft and write. The Social Studies portion of the GED test covers U.S. history, government, geography and economics. During the Science section of the test, you will be asked for two short written responses that demonstrate your ability to summarize scientific and technical information supported by evidence provided in reading passages. The Mathematical Reasoning section of the test evaluates your problem-solving skills and your understanding of algebra and geometry.

GED Preparation

You can prepare for the GED test by taking a course or studying with a tutor at a local adult education center. You can find adult education programs through a state's department of education, the National Literacy Directory or on GED.com

If you choose to prepare for the test on your own, there are online prep courses, official GED practice tests and GED workbooks. The GED website has a list of available resources.

Why Get Your GED?

A GED certificate or credential no longer stands for ''just good enough.'' Passing the GED shows you have the academic skills and knowledge comparable to a high school graduate and that you are ready for college or a career. According to recent reports, approximately, 97 percent of employers accept the GED certificate, and approximately 98 percent of colleges and universities accept this credential as part of their admission requirement.


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