GED Test Overview

GED test overviewThe GED test was completely revamped in 2014.  The 2014 GED program is the first major revision of the GED since 2002. The new GED tests are focused on four specific content areas: Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science and Social Studies.   The intent of the GED program is to assess whether a student has the academic skills of a typical high school graduate.  GED candidates have not earned a high school diploma and are typically older than 16 years of age. GED is an acronym for General Educational Development Tests.  The GED tests are developed by the General Educational Development Testing service (GEDTS) which is part of the American Council on Education.  The GED testing program is a partnership between GEDTS and local jurisdictions (i.e., U.S. States, Canadian provinces etc.)  The local jurisdiction set some requirements, administer the tests and award the high school credentials.  The GED tests are only given in person, on computer, at one of 3,400 testing locations.

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The GED Tests are standardized regularly by testing a sample of graduating high school seniors. This standardization process sets the benchmark that candidates must achieve to earn a GED credential. In 2014, two GED scores are offered:

  • GED Passing Score - demonstrates high school equivalency
  • GED Passing Score with Honors - demonstrates career and college readiness (CCR).

The GED credential is issued by the state (territory or province) that the student resides in.  The GED credential is typically considered to be equivalent to a high school diploma.

GED Test Format2014 GED Test Format

The GED Tests are made up of four subject area tests and one written essay.  There are a total of 8 sections.  The 2014 GED test format does not specify the number of questions in each of the sections.  The GED uses raw score points since not all test items are worth just one point. You are given about 7 hours to complete the tests. The table below lists the sections of the test in more detail.

GED Test Areas

GED Test Area Time Limit Raw Score Points Summary
Reasoning Through Language Arts, 3 Sections

35 minutes (section 1)
45 minutes (section 2)
60 minutes (section 3) 

65 Evaluates student’s ability to revise and edit workplace and informational documents.  Covers areas such as: organization, sentence structure, usage, and mechanics. Essay evaluates the student’s ability to write an essay that explains, clarifies, or informs.  Topics are general in nature and require no specialized knowledge.
Mathematics 90 minutes 49 Covers basic mathematical skills that are typical for a high school graduate.  You will be tested on: number operation and number sense; algebra, functions and patterns; geometry and measurement; and data analysis, statistics, and probability.
Social Studies 90 minutes 44 Measures a student’s knowledge of  key history, geography, economics and civics concepts.  Covers areas such as: U.S. History, World History, Civics and Government, Geography, and Economics.
Science 90 minutes 40 Measures a student’s skill in understanding the key concepts in physical sciences. Covers areas such as: Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Science.

GED Preparation

Preparation is key to the GED tests.  Students can learn at home, online or take a GED preparation course.  To determine how much preparation you may need you should take a GED practice test to help pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.  Local school districts and community organizations offer programs and support to individuals seeking their GED.

Video: Introducing the 2014 GED Program


GED Scores

In 2014, the GED changed the scoring format.  The GED score range is now 100 to 200.  A scaled score of 150 is now considered a Passing Standard for high school equivalency.  Students scoring 170 or higher are considered to have passed with honors (GED Score with Honors). The high school equivalency passing scores are intended to signify that the GED candidate has demonstrated knowledge equivalent or greater than 40% of high school graduates. Approximately 700,000 candidates take one or more of the GED tests on an annual basis. Of these test takers, approximately 600,000 take the entire set of exams.  Approximately 73% of the test takers who take the entire set of GED exams receive a passing score.

GED History

The GED testing program begin in 1942 with the intent of helping returning World War II veterans.  In 1947 New York state began offering the tests to civilians who were awarded a high school diploma if they passed.  The test has been revised over the years, specifically in 1978, 1988, 2002 and 2014.  The 2002 series of tests focuses on the role of the GED as a gateway to job advancement, occupational/career training and postsecondary education.  The 2014 GED expands the focus of the program from high school equivalency to career and college readiness.

To prepare for the exam, try our Free GED Practice TestsGED Courses may also help you prepare and meet the GED requirements.