What Should I Know About the GED Before Taking It?

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The General Education Development or GED Test is a nationally recognized exam that is used as a requirement for a high school equivalency diploma. The GED can lead to a better job and a college education, but there are several things you should know before you take the test.
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The GED Test

The GED was designed to assess your college and career readiness skills. Launched in 1942 to help World War II veterans advance their careers, the GED Test been updated several times, most recently in 2014. The test is now taken on computer with a variety of questions that have expanded the original multiple-choice format. The seven-and-a-half hour test is divided into four sections that cover math, language arts, science and social studies. In most cases, you have the option of taking the entire test all at once, or taking the following test sections separately, in any order:

  • Reasoning Through Language Arts - This section of the GED lets you demonstrate your reading ability and writing skills. Part of the 150-minute test involves answering questions that ask you to analyze aspects of different types of reading passages. Other questions will require you revise written selections to correct errors in grammar, organization and language use. You will also be given 45 minutes to write an original essay.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The math test section measures your problem-solving skills. Multi-step questions cover percents, proportions, fractions, decimals as well as geometry topics such as area, volume and the Pythagorean Theorem. The math test emphasizes algebra and questions may also involve factoring polynomials, solving linear equations and inequalities and graphing functions and solutions. For most of the questions on this 115-minute test, you will be able to use a calculator and a formula sheet.
  • Science - The science test requires you to interpret and evaluate scientific information and explain and apply scientific principle. Questions are based on reading selections, charts, graphs and illustrations that present topics in life sciences, physical science and astronomy. The 90-minute test has two short written-response questions.
  • Social Studies - The Social Studies test section evaluates your ability to interpret and analyze texts, maps, tables and charts that present ideas and information on government, history geography and economics. The 90-minutes test requires an short essay that you have 25 minutes to write.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements for GED testing vary from state to state. In most cases, the minimum age is 18. However, states usually allow 16 and 17-year-old students to take the test if they provide certain types of documentation such as age waivers or parental consent forms. Some states and jurisdictions have residency requirements, but many do not. Several states require you to pass a practice test before you take the actual GED Test. You can check the specific requirements of each state and jurisdiction on the GED Testing Service website, GED.com.

Scores and Fees

You need to score at least 150 on each of the four test sections and have a total score of 600 to pass the GED Test. If you score below 150 on a test section, you can usually take it again twice without waiting. If you need a third retest, you generally need to wait 60 days.

Although fees vary, in most areas you will need to pay $120 to take the GED Test. Usually, there are additional fees for retests.

Registration and Testing

You must take the GED Test in person at an authorized GED Test Center. You cannot take the test online. You can find a list of test centers in your area at Ged.com. Once you decide on a test site, you can register and schedule you tests online.