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What is a GED?

GED stands for General Education Development. The GED test, which was created by the American Council on Education and is now administered by Pearson, is intended for those who did not pursue a traditional high school degree. Upon passing the exam, the GED confers a high school equivalency diploma. The GED diploma can be used to apply to higher education or to join the workforce, just like a typical high school degree.

GED vs High School Diploma

The GED test is a reliable alternative option for those without a typical high school diploma. However, there are many differences between a GED diploma and a high school diploma, and you will want to know these well before you make a decision.

GED Diploma High School Diploma
Can be completed in a short period of time Takes at least four years to complete
May not be recognized outside the U.S. Will be recognized both in the U.S. and internationally
GED test is required No test required, but passing grades are required for mandatory courses
Can be earned at any age Typical for students of high school age

Explore further similarities and differences between a high school diploma and a GED.

What is on the GED test?

The GED test consists of four different subtests that measure your proficiency in mathematics, science, social studies, and language. It is possible to take all these subtests together or separately at times convenient to you. Check the table below to learn more about these four subtests. Please note that the price of each test varies by state, which is why a price range is given.

Test subject Total time Price range for each test
Mathematical Reasoning 115 minutes $3 - $75
Reasoning through Language Arts 150 minutes
45 minutes for the written essay
$3 - $75
Social Studies 70 minutes $3 - $75
Science 90 minutes $3 - $75

GED Social Studies

The GED social studies test is not just an assessment of historical knowledge. Instead, the social studies exam assesses your skills in interpreting data and applying the concepts of social studies. For example, you might be given some data or information related to social studies in the form of graphs, charts, or excerpts, and you will have to use your reasoning abilities to derive a conclusion from them.

Test topics Format Total time
  • Social Studies reading comprehension and reasoning
  • Analysis of historical events and social studies concepts
  • Understanding numbers and graphs within Social Studies
  • Question types include: multiple-choice, drag and drop, fill-in-the-blank, select an area, and drop down
  • Calculation (calculator reference sheet is provided, and calculators are permitted)
70 minutes, without breaks

The GED social studies syllabus covers a wide range of topics in U.S. History, World History, geography, economics, and politics. Check out this complete study guide with quizzes and flashcards to prepare for the test.

GED Math

The kind of math on the GED test differs from typical mathematical tests because you don't have to memorize any math formulae; instead, all the formulae will be shown on the test screen and given in a formula sheet. Questions on the exam will ask you to apply these mathematical equations and concepts to practical problems.

Test topics Format Total time
  • Basic math
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Graphs and functions
  • Two sections, one of which allows calculator usage
  • Question types include: multiple-choice, drag and drop, fill-in-the-blank, select an area, and drop down
  • Provided through entire test is a formula sheet and a calculator reference sheet
115 minutes, with a short break between the parts

The topics asked on the GED math test include probability and statistics, functions and inequalities, ratios and proportions, decimals and fractions, and geometry. Get a detailed understanding of these topics and learn the tools and strategies that help for GED math.

GED Science

The GED science test evaluates your understanding of science concepts, scientific reasoning, and data interpretation. This test doesn't require you to memorize anything, but you should prepare by reviewing scientific concepts and their applications. You should also be able to recognize important symbols, names, and scientific vocabulary.

Test topics Format Total time
  • Comprehension of scientific concepts
  • Interpretation and design of science experiments
  • Use of numbers and graphics in science
  • Question types include: multiple-choice, drag and drop, fill-in-the-blank, select an area, and drop down
  • Calculator permitted
  • Calculator reference sheet given
90 minutes, without breaks

GED science includes topics from the fields of life science, physics, and chemistry. Visit GED Science: Life, Physical and Chemical to get a detailed understanding of these topics and to learn about question types and test-taking strategies.

GED Language Arts

The language arts GED test consists of questions that assess reading, comprehension and writing skills, and basic grammar. You might be required to analyze excerpts or compare two passages to reach evidence-based conclusions. In the writing portion, you must craft a clear, convincing, and well-reasoned argument.

Test topics Format Total time
  • Reading comprehension
  • Identification and creation of arguments
  • Grammar and language
  • Three sections, including an essay section
  • Question types include: multiple-choice, drag and drop, fill-in-the-blank, select an area, drop down, and essay
  • 150 minutes, with a 10-minute break between parts 2 and 3
  • 45 minutes for the written essay

Word choice, organization of ideas, sentence structure, and good analytical and comprehension skills are essential to ace this test. Improve your reading and writing skills for GED language arts with this study guide.

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How do you study for the GED?

The GED exam measures your understanding of the high school-level topics in the areas of math, science, social science, and language arts. You can find many online GED programs by accredited institutions.

Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the GED efficiently:

Familiarize yourself with the content and the format of the test. It is important to know what is asked and not asked on the exam so that you study the necessary topics. Understanding the format of the exam will help you to tackle different kinds of questions with confidence. To gain this familiarity, study using a comprehensive study guide or course syllabus, and take practice exams to test your knowledge and become comfortable with question formats.

Create a study plan. Time management and focus are two major factors in acing any exam, and a good study plan takes care of these. Categorize the subject areas and topics you need to study as easy, moderate, and difficult. Allot time to review each of these topics based on their difficulty and importance. Use the time when you are more awake and focused to study the topics that you find difficult or boring and leave the easy topics for the end. This way, you will be able to give the required attention to all the topics.

Take a practice test. Practice tests are helpful to understand the format of the test, determine your areas of strength, recognize the topics that you need to study more, and find out ways to manage time effectively during the exam.

GED scores

The scores in each of the four GED subtests are converted to a scaled score in the range of 100-200. A passing grade is required in each of these subtests to earn the GED credential. The result consists of two passing levels: high school equivalency and GED honors.

To pass the high school equivalency level, you need to get a minimum score of 145 in each of the four tests. A score in the range of 165–174 in any subtest corresponds to the college-ready level, which means you have the potential to take college-level courses and get waivers for non-credit courses and placement tests. Scores above 175 in any test subject correspond to the GED® College Ready+ Credit level and qualifies you to get up to 10 college credits. Read further to learn how the GED is scored.

What is a GED passing score?

The passing score for each subject test is the same. Achieving higher than the passing score can give you extra benefits, as mentioned in the previous section.

Subtest Passing score
Mathematical Reasoning 145
Science 145
Social Science 145
Reasoning through Language Arts 145

How to get GED test scores online

Scores will be provided on the GED website within 24 hours from the time of the test. You will get an email notifying you that scores have been posted. At that point, log in to your account and view the score under the section named "My Scores." Once you have your passing GED scores, you can then obtain your diploma and transcript.

Do GED scores expire?

The GED scores do not expire. They are valid for a lifetime, just like traditional high school diplomas.

GED registration information

The eligibility requirements for the GED test varies for each state. You will need to check if you meet all your state's requirements before registering for the exam.

Follow these steps to register for the GED test:

  1. Create an account on the GED website.
  2. Log in to the GED account for registration.
  3. Register for the exam by providing additional information.
  4. Choose the test subject(s) that you want to take.
  5. Schedule a day, time, and center for the test.
  6. Pay the registration fee online.

For additional information about test dates and locations, check with the test provider.

How much does the GED test cost?

The GED test cost varies for each state. Generally, the GED test cost ranges between $3 - $75.

State GED test cost (per subject test) GED total cost (4 subject tests)
Florida $32 $128
California $35 $140
Texas $36.25 $145
Colorado $37.50 $150

Not seeing your state? Check out this detailed list of GED test costs by state.

Where can you take the GED test?

The GED test is conducted in testing centers located all around the U.S. These testing centers are usually community colleges, high schools, or other education centers.

If you are concerned about how to find a testing center and where to take the GED test, don't worry. You can find the nearest testing center by entering in your zip code on the GED testing services website.

What are the available GED accommodations?

Test accommodations are provided on a case-by-case basis to test takers with certain needs.

This list of qualifying medical issues includes:

  • Learning and cognitive disorders
  • Psychological and psychiatric disorders
  • ADHD
  • Physical disabilities
  • Chronic health conditions

Major accommodations offered include:

  • Extra testing time
  • Separate testing room
  • Extra break

To receive proper accommodations, you must apply along with your registration. As approval for accommodation requests can take up to 30 days, make sure to plan in advance.

How long do you have to wait to retake a GED test?

If you fail one of the subject tests, there is no waiting period for the next two retakes. However, after the third attempt, you will have to wait for 60 days for a retest. Please note that this period might vary for some states.

For example, states like California, Florida, Colorado, and Texas follow the rule mentioned above, whereas in Maryland, you can attempt the test three times per year. In North Dakota, the waiting period is three days. Confirm your state-specific retake policies before planning to sign up for retakes. GED scholarship

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How can you get your GED online?

It is not possible to take the GED test online. It is conducted solely in testing centers. However, it is possible to prepare for and apply for the GED test online. Many online GED preparation programs are also available and you can use these resources to prepare for the test. GED practice tests are also offered online.

What is the best GED online program?

To understand which is the best online GED program, you have to see whether the program aligns with your study goals. While selecting an online program that is best for you, you must consider the following factors:

  • Quality of the program
  • Affordability
  • Detailed syllabus
  • Practice test opportunities provided
  • Flexibility with your schedule

Is the GED test hard?

The difficulty of the GED test might depend on your preparation. Since this is a high school equivalency program, a good and solid understanding of the high school-level concepts in all the subjects will help you to ace the exam. It is important to approach these concepts with an analytical mindset as the tests focus on application skills, and not mere memorization. Practice tests will be crucial for understanding the actual difficulty of the exam as well as preparing for the content covered by the exam.

How long does it take to get a GED?

The total time required to get a GED credential depends on how prepared you are, the number of retests, and the time you require between each test. According to the GED Testing Service, the average time required for those who prepare and pass the test is under three months.

What is the difference between HiSET and GED?

HiSET stands for High School Equivalency Test. Just like GED, HiSET also grants a high school equivalency diploma. However, there are a few differences between the HiSET and GED.

* Costs vary per state
Cost* $30 per subtest $10.75 per subtest (computer-based)
$15 per subtest (paper-based)
Number of sections 4 4
Time for each section
  • Social Studies: 70 minutes
  • Science: 90 minutes
  • Math: 115 minutes
  • Language Arts: 150 minutes
  • Social Studies: 70 minutes
  • Science: 80 minutes
  • Mathematics: 90 minutes
  • Language Arts (Reading): 65 minutes
  • Language Arts (Writing): 120 minutes

About 40 states accept the GED and 20 states accept the HiSET for high school equivalency.

Test name States that accept this test as high school equivalent
GED Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
HiSET California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming

How do you get a copy of your GED?

To get a copy of your GED transcript, you will need to log into your account on the GED website. Then, you can request the transcripts online and track their status. If you earned the GED credential before 2014, you need to choose your location from a drop-down menu on the website and then request the transcript.

Do colleges accept the GED?

Yes, they do. About 98% of colleges and universities in the U.S. accept the GED credential, as well as many foreign colleges. In fact, earning the college-ready level on the GED exam will qualify you to waive placement tests.

To make your college application even more competitive, bolster your GED credential with involvement in community volunteering programs, professional experience, and high SAT/ACT scores. If you set your mind to it, you can certainly go to college with a GED.

What should you bring to the GED test?

You should bring a valid photo ID issued by the U.S. government. You will be provided with three erasable whiteboards and a marker. All other personal items must be kept outside.

Can you use a calculator on the GED test?

Yes, you can. You are allowed to bring a TI-30XS handheld calculator.

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