General Education Diploma Information

The General Educational Development (GED) credential contains four tests which, when passed successfully, functions as the equivalent of a high school diploma. This article discusses the four test subject areas, as well as GED passing scores.

General Education Diploma Overview

The GED is a program developed by the company Pearson Education and the nonprofit American Council on Education. The GED began in 1942, and since then, more than 18 million people have earned their GED credentials, according to ACE ( The GED essentially is offered as an alternative to a high school diploma for students who, for whatever reason, have not graduated from high school. While some states have replaced the GED with an equivalent test (the HiSET or TASC), many states still offer the GED, and it is accepted by 98% of colleges nationwide. The following tiers of scores show the number of points that need to be earned to pass the GED:

  • Pass / High School Equivalency - 145-164
  • GED College Ready - 165-174
  • GED College Ready + Credit - 175-200

Some states may have slightly different score requirements. The test is split into four sections.

Reasoning Through Language Arts

This test focuses on a combination of understanding informational texts and the ability to produce an analytical writing piece. There are also multiple-choice questions concerning the correct use of grammar in writing. In total, the reading and writing components of the language arts assessment takes 150 minutes to complete, which includes a 10-minute break.


The student's ability to interpret academic and workplace reading selections is measured through this section. The multiple-choice test consists of 75% nonfiction selections and 25% literature. Students are graded on the areas of analysis, comprehension, application and synthesis.


The second section requires an essay, for which 45 minutes is allowed. The multiple-choice questions test the student's skills in correct word usage and mechanics, such as punctuation and capitalization. The essay judges the student's ability to write an explanatory or informational piece using correct grammar rules.

Social Studies

Students have 70 minutes to complete the multiple-choice questions in this section. This exam tests the student's skills to interpret geographic, economic, historical and civic concepts and principles through writing and visual academic concepts.


Like the social studies section, the science exam tests the student's ability to understand and interpret scientific information provided to him or her. Earth and space science, physical science and chemistry are included in this test. The test must be completed within 90 minutes.

Mathematical Reasoning

Students may use a calculator to complete the first part of this two-part test, which measures the student's reasoning and analytical skills using numbers, charts, word problems and diagrams. Content focuses on quantitative problem solving and algebraic problem solving.

Mental math knowledge is tested in the second part. Students have 115 minutes to complete both sections of the math test.

Passing the GED requires a combination score of at least 145, with tests in language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics. The GED has tiered test ratings, higher scores can mean a student is adequately prepared for college-level work.

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