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What Is the GED

The GED test allows those who did not earn a high school diploma a chance to receive a Certificate of High School Equivalency, should they pass. The certificate serves the same purpose as a high school diploma and is accepted by about 97% of the colleges in the United States as well as accepted in other countries, such as Canada. Earning a GED can significantly improve employment prospects, and is usually a prerequisite for admission to college and career training programs.

Eligibility for the GED varies by state; however, in most states, applicants must be 16 or older and not currently enrolled in high school. Note that some states require that the applicant be at least 17 years of age and a state resident. If under 17, the applicant must have a letter of consent from his or her parents or school district.

GED Sections

The GED test measures proficiency in math, reading and writing, science, and social studies. In most cases, the test is taken on a computer.

The test has four sections: Reasoning through language arts, science, social studies, and mathematical reasoning.

Reasoning Through Language Arts

The GED Language Arts section measures candidates' reading comprehension, writing skills, and levels of understanding through the use of both academic and work-related texts. Most of the texts are informative and contain between 450 and 900 words. The Writing assignment requires that the candidates present a written analysis using the given text as evidence. Since the test is administered by a computer, it also assesses the candidates' typing skills. Candidates have 150 minutes to complete this section.


The GED Science section measures candidates' understanding of the fundamentals of physical science, earth and space science, and life science, with a specific emphasis placed on the physical and life sciences. Candidates are assessed using text-based questions, data, and statistics. These questions come in various formats, such as drag-and-drop, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and hot spot (clicking on a portion of an image on a computer screen). Candidates have 90 minutes to complete this section. They may bring a handheld calculator or use the onscreen one provided.

Social Studies

The GED Social Studies sections measures four different subjects— economics, geography and the world, civics and government, and United States history—with the primary focus placed on civics and government. This subtest measures both reasoning skills and knowledge. It utilizes different question formats, such as drag-and-drop, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and hot spot. Candidates have 70 minutes to complete this section. They may bring a handheld calculator if they wish or use the onscreen one provided.

Mathematical Reasoning

The GED Math section measures quantitative and algebraic problem solving, with a slight emphasis on the algebra-based questions. This section assesses problem solving as well as candidates' broad understanding of quantitative and algebraic concepts. Expect different question formats, such as drag-and-drop, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and hot spot. Candidates have 115 minutes to complete this subtest. They may use the formula sheet provided as well as bring a handheld calculator or use the onscreen one provided.

GED Scores

The possible scores on the GED exam range from 100 to 200 for each subtest, with 145 as the minimum passing score for each subtest. Candidates who score high on the GED may be eligible for honor level equivalency diplomas, scholarships, and college credits.

  • Below Passing: 100-144
  • GED Passing Score: 145-164
  • GED College Ready: 165-174
  • GED College Ready + Credit: 175-200

Candidates who fail some of the subtests must retake only the tests they did not pass on their first attempt. There may be a waiting period of 60 days before candidates are allowed to take the test a third time. To earn the Certificate of High School Equivalency, the candidate must pass all the subtests within two years.

GED Preparation

GED preparation classes are offered throughout the country at colleges, community colleges, community organizations, and other institutions. For an optimal study experience, consider combining classroom study, group study and independent study. Small improvements will add up to significantly increase your scores. Try to figure out your strengths and weaknesses. Are you better at some sub-tests or question types than others? Where are you most and least sure of your answers? Are you sometimes sure of your answer but end up being incorrect, or unsure of your answer but end up being correct? Take all of these factors into account, but also remember that the GED is a very general test, covering all of a high school curriculum. Improving your fundamental skills and knowledge base will help you improve across the board.

COMING SOON: TestPrep-Online is developing a comprehensive GED preparation pack to ensure you pass the GED with confidence and ease. With our GED study guide, practice tests, and in-depth answer explanations, you will have the tools you need to pass the GED with ease and earn the score you’re hoping for!


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