How Do I Get My GED?

Passing the General Educational Development (GED) exam leads to a high school equivalency credential that can open up opportunities for both employment and postsecondary study. Learn how you can earn your GED.

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  • 0:01 What Is a GED?
  • 0:46 Preparing for the GED
  • 1:46 Taking the GED
  • 2:17 After the Test

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Test Name General Educational Development Exam (GED)
Fee Sometimes free (fess vary by state)
Available Online? No
Test Subjects/Format Five sections covering science, social studies, mathematics, language arts reading, and language arts writing; test includes reading tasks, multiple choice, and essay
Time Alotted 7.5 hours
Passing Score 150 for each section and an average score of 600 for the entire test battery
Retakes Allowed (number of attempts allowed within a given time period varies by state)
Residency Varies by state
Minimum Age Yypically 16 (age restrictions may vary by state)

What Is a GED?

Adults who are interested in taking a General Educational Development Exam or obtain a GED will need to meet eligibility requirements, register to take the exam at an approved testing location, and prepare for content on the exam.

The GED exams are designed for adults over the age of 16 who have not earned a high school diploma and are not currently enrolled in secondary school. However, some states, like California, require adults to be 18 years old before being eligible to take the GED. Passing the exams can lead to more career opportunities and admission to a college or university. Earning the GED credential is a great first step for adults seeking to advance educationally or professionally.

Preparing for the GED

The GED exam takes approximately seven and a half hours to complete, and it is made up of five subject area tests:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Language arts: writing
  • Language arts: reading
  • Social studies

The tests include a combination of reading tasks, multiple choice questions and essays.

Many people have the false impression that the GED exam is easy. In fact, individuals must demonstrate equal or greater knowledge than 60% of high school seniors in order to pass the test. It is, therefore, important to take preparing for the exam seriously.

Test preparation courses are offered at adult education centers across the country. These may be found at community colleges, high schools and other community centers. Self-learners can purchase books and study materials online. Free practice tests and study questions may be offered online as well.

You can learn more about test preparation options at the website of the GED Testing Service.

Taking the GED

The GED exam is not currently offered online. However, the GED Testing Service indicates that there are more than 3,400 testing centers in the United States as of 2016. Testing opportunities can often be found in the same locations as test preparation centers.

The cost of the exam varies by state. Some states offer it for free, while others charge a nominal operations fee. How frequently tests are offered also varies based on the state and the individual testing center.

After the Test

Score reports can be obtained by contacting your testing center. If you took the GED test on a computer, you will be able to look up your scores online through the GED Testing Service.

In order to pass the exam, students must earn a minimum standard score of 150 on each subject test and an average standard score of 600 across all of the subject tests. If you do not pass the first time, you can retake one or more subject tests. However, some states require that you pay an additional fee. Many states also have a waiting period before you can retake the test; you may need to take a preparation course between attempts.

The GED is a great option for adults 16 and older (18 and over in some states) who do not have a high school diploma and are not enrolled in secondary school. In order to pass the GED exam, you must get at least a 150 on each of the five test subjects and an average standard score of 600 overall.

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