What to Expect When Taking the GED

The "General Education Development," better known by the initials "GED," consists of five standardized achievement tests that measure an applicant's proficiency in the areas of writing, reading, social studies, science, and mathematics. Accordingly, this series of tests was designed to measure a body of information comparable high school curriculum of the same subjects.

Upon passing the five subjects of the GED, applicants are certified as having achieved successfully the academic skills of a high school graduate. In order to take the GED, an applicant must not have earned a high school diploma and must be a minimum of 16 years of age or 17 years of age, depending upon the age regulations of the state in which the GED tests are administered.

Officially, these achievement tests are known as the GED battery of tests and specifically are called the GED Language Arts Writing Test, the GED Language Arts Reading Test, the GED Social Studies Test, the GED Science Test, and the GED Mathematics Test. The initials GED also have been referred to as the "General Education Diploma," the "General Equivalency Diploma," and the "General Equivalency Degree" because of its accepted substitution as a high school diploma.

These five tests are administered at an Official GED Testing Center that adheres to the standards specified by the American Council on Education (ACE). Presently, over 3,000 Official GED Testing Centers exist worldwide. The Testing Centers also must follow the regulations mandated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 when the GED tests are taken in the United States, and under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms when these tests are administered in Canada. The GED battery of tests cannot be taken online over the Internet.

When the GED tests are administered in the United States, the individual state's Department of Education also has jurisdiction over some of the regulations governing the exams. These differences usually involve the minimum age of an exam applicant, the individual cost of the five tests, whether applicants must take all five tests in one sitting or spread out over time, and if an applicant must provide specific types of documentation for proof of exam eligibility.

In order to pass the GED series of tests and earn a GED Certificate, an applicant must score higher than 60 percent of graduating high school seniors when measured nationwide. Certain jurisdictions may require additional requirements of GED graduates, including passing an English proficiency exam or a government civics test.

The GED achievement tests can be both mentally and physically exhausting because of their total length. If an applicant chooses to tackle the entire five parts of the GED, they are looking at an exam length of 7 hours and 5 minutes of intense concentration. Some jurisdictions require that the GED be taken all at once, but other jurisdictions allow applicants to take the tests over several days.

One of the best things about the GED is the industry of practice materials that has grown up around this standardized battery of tests since the GED's inception in the 1940s. Applicants for the GED now have online Internet access to practice exams, study guides, flashcards, and many other self-help aids. Adult education classroom time represents another major form of preparation widely accepted for GED applicants.

By the way, don't let those rumors about a "new" GED test worry you. It's true that the GED is being rewritten, but the new test doesn't drop until 2014. Until then, rely on our research to do well on the current test.

Example: GED Brochure

Last Updated: 05/15/2014