Getting your GED

You probably already know that a high school diploma can open up employment opportunities for you and enable you to enter college. But, did you know that the General Education Development (GED) test can serve as an alternative to a high school diploma? Although a GED is not the same as a high school diploma, passing it can earn you a high school equivalency certificate, which is accepted by many employers, colleges and universities across Canada and the U.S. in lieu of a completed high school education. If the thought of going back to high school makes you want to crawl under a rock, the GED is probably a better solution. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about getting your GED.


Who Can Take the GED Exam?

Generally, the GED is designed for adults in the U.S. and Canada who have never finished high school. To take the GED exam, you must be at least 18 years old (16 years old in some states) and not be currently enrolled in high school. Each state has different age restrictions and rules regarding how long you must be out of high school before taking the exam. To find the GED rules in your state, contact the American Council on Education (ACE), your local library, or a local adult education school.


About the GED Exam

The GED exam includes five subject tests, which test your knowledge at a high school level.



There are 50 multiple choice questions in the mathematics section, covering algebra, data analysis, measurements, geometry and number operations.



There are 40 multiple choice questions in the reading section. This section tests your ability to comprehend information from various written fiction and non-fiction excerpts.



There are 50 multiple choice questions in the writing section and one essay question. The multiple choice section tests you on sentence structure and grammar. For the essay section, you will be asked to write an essay expressing your opinion or views on a general interest topic


Social Studies

There are 50 multiple choice questions in the social studies section, covering history, geography, government and economics.



There are 50 multiple choice questions in the science section, covering life scie3nce, earth science, space science and physical science.



The entire test lasts for about 7 – 1/2 hours. The possible scores on each section of the exam range from 200 to 800. To pass the exam, you must get a minimum of a 410 score in each section and an overall exam score of 450. For the essay in the writing section, you must get at least a 2 (out of 4). If you score less than a 2, you will have to re-take the entire writing test.


Do I Need to Study for the GED Exam?

It’s always a good idea to study before taking the GED to ensure that you will get a passing score. However, the amount you need to study depends on your situation.


Did You Recently Exit High School?

If you just recently stopped attending high school, the subject matter may still be fresh in your mind. However, since you did not finish high school, you may have not learned everything you need to know to pass the GED exam. The GED exam is designed to test you at a level equivalent to what a person would learn through the end of 12th grade. So, the less school you completed, the more you will need to study. You may even need catch up on some of the skills you never learned.


Has it Been Years Since You Last Attended High School?

No matter how smart you are, you may be surprised to find out how much you forgot in high school. Science, social studies, math and grammar rules easily slip the mind, especially when they are not used everyday. If you haven’t been in school for quite some time and you don’t regularly use your reading, writing, math, social studies or science skills, you should study to brush up on what you’ve forgotten.


How to Study for the GED Exam

Here are some tips to help you study for your GED exam:


Finding Out What Will Be on the GED Exam

The best way to find out what will be on the GED exam is to get a GED study guide. You can get a GED study guide from ACE, an adult education school, from the bookstore or online.


Sitting Down and Studying

Now that you know what will be on the GED exam, it’s time to study. If you don’t feel you know the subject matter well enough, you can should take a GED preparedness course (available at adult education schools and online) or hire a tutor to coach you. If you feel you have a good handle on the subject matter, but just need to do a little brushing up on your skills, you can use your GED study guide to help you catch up.


Testing What You’ve Learned Before Taking the Exam

Once you have done all your studying, you should take a practice GED exam. GED practice exams ask you questions that are similar to the ones you will be asked on the official GED exam. You can find practice GED exams in your GED study guide or online at places like Some adult education schools and tutoring centers also have practice GED tests.


Enrolling for the GED Exam

The GED exam must be taken in front of a proctor. Check with your local adult education school, tutoring center or with your librarian to see if they have a proctor who administers the GED exam. Alternatively, you can contact ACE to find an approved proctor in your area.

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