Close this search box.

GED Requirements: How to Get a GED

The GED is a certification that can be obtained by individuals that shows the have high school-level academic skills in the United States or Canada. The certification is used as an alternative to a high school diploma.

There are some GED requirements that must be met before taking and receiving the certification. We will review those requirements as well as how to get a GED in the article below.

Summary: Learn the requirements for the GED as well as how to get a GED. If you want to begin practicing, visit our free GED test home.

GED Requirements

The GED is developed and administered by the General Education Development Testing Service (GEDTS). The GED is administered via a partnership between GEDTS and the local U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and various U.S. Territories. 

GEDTS develops the tests, sets the administration procedures, specifies minimum test requirements and passing standards. The local jurisdictions deliver the test and award the high school credential to adults who meet eligibility standards and pass the tests.

Listed below are the requirements for the GED. These requirements are the bare minimum which are set by the GEDTS. Requirements may vary depending on the state in which you will be taking the exam.

  1. Student must not currently be enrolled in high school
  2. Student must not have graduated from high school
  3. Student must be at least 16 years old (varies by state – see table below)
  4. Student must meet jurisdictional requirements regarding residency, age, and length of time since leaving high school.

GED Requirements by State

Each state has its own GED eligibility requirements. For example, some states may require a test-taker to be at least 18 years old before sitting for the GED exam. Review the table below for more information.

In the past, you were only able to take the GED exam at an in-person testing site. However, now you can take the exam online (if your state allows it).

State or TerritoryGED Test OfferedOnline GED Test OfferedMinimum Age
American SamoaYesYes18+
District of ColumbiaYesYes18+
New HampshireNoN/AN/A
New JerseyYesYes16+
New MexicoYesYes16+
New YorkNoN/AN/A
North CarolinaYesYes18+
North DakotaYesYes16+
Northern Mariana IslandsYesYes18+
Rhode IslandYesYes16+
South CarolinaYesNoN/A
South DakotaYesYes16+
Virgin IslandsYesYes17+
West VirginiaNoN/AN/A

More information on GED state pricing and rules.

Recap of GED Requirements

As mentioned above, each local jurisdiction (whether a state, territory or province) is allowed to set their own requirements for GED eligibility as long as they meet the GEDTS minimum standards (i.e., at least 16 years of age, not enrolled in high school and not a high school graduate). In practice the vast majority of the local regions have very similar requirements.

For example, most states require a GED test taker to be 18 years of age. This rule is often intended to discourage students from dropping out of high school early. The reasoning is: if students feel that they can drop out of high school at 16 and easily get a GED, then more high school dropouts will occur.

Most jurisdictions will argue that dropping out of high school will have an adverse impact on a students career prospects (as well as other social implications) so they do not want to do anything to encourage more high school drop outs.

The other requirements for taking a GED are less controversial. All states, territories, and provinces do not allow current high school students or high school graduates to take the GED test.

Local testing authorities will also require GED test takers to be a resident of the area that is administering the GED credential. Test takers will have to supply a valid form of ID, such as a current driver’s license, state issued ID, military ID or passport.

GED test takers are also required to pay a testing fee. The fees will differ from state to state and can also vary by local testing center. Fees can range from $50 to $150 and are sometimes charged on an individual test basis (e.g., $20 per individual GED exam or $100 for all 5 exams).

How to Get a GED

#1 – Confirm Your State’s GED Requirements

Every state has been authorized to set forth its own GED exam requirements. Some states allow for test-takers to be as young as 16 years old, while others require a 16-year-old to seek an age waiver or wait until they are 18 years old and no longer a minor.

Every state’s GED requirements involve the following items:

  • Age – confirm the state’s minimum age requirement.
  • Residency Concerns – determine if your state has residency requirements.
  • Photo ID mandates – determine what ID is acceptable.
  • Preparation Course Requirements – determine your state’s prep course requirements.
  • High School Enrollment Status – determine if your state has High School enrollment status requirements – i.e. must the test-taker be out of school for a specified time frame?

As a reminder, it is prudent to confirm if your state even recognizes the GED credential. Please reference the table above for more information on these items.

#2 – Prep for the GED Exam

The GED is a four-section exam that is designed to reflect and assess the test-taker’s knowledge of high school-level concepts. These sections include:

  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts

Studying for the GED is critical to optimize your final GED test results. This sage advice is especially true for GED test-takers who have not been a student in a long time.

However, the amount of time needed to prep for the exam will depend on the following:

  • The student’s current knowledge of subjects that will be tested
  • The amount of time the test-taker has been out of the classroom.
  • Other things going on (job, children, etc..)

As you prepare to take the GED, take advantage of the many online resources available. You can use our free GED practice questions to begin your studies.

#3 – Understand the GED’s Format and Timing

Prepping for the GED is very important. However, it is also valuable to take the time to understand the GED’s format and time constraints. Here are a few general concepts about the exam:

  • Most questions are answered by multiple-choice answers. However, you will find drag and drop, fill-in-the-blank, select an area, and drop-down questions as well.
  • Each state determines the test’s time limits.
  • The scoring results for the GED are typically available in about a day. Sometimes they are available as quickly as several hours after the exam.
  • Although it varies by state, many GED test-takers can take each test separately (and in any order) or together.
  • Students who successfully pass the GED become Federal student-aid eligible.
  • Re-test rules – Most states allow GED test-takers three re-test attempts with little fuss. However, should the test-taker need a fourth attempt, there is generally a pre-established required waiting period.

#4 – Register Online for the GED

When you have appropriately prepared for the GED, the next step is to register to take the test and to set forth the dates, the testing location, and testing specifics moving forward.

The registration process requires the creation of an online account.

Students needing special accommodations should contact the testing center to learn of the testing site’s accommodations. However, the special accommodations take extra time to secure, so GED test-takers should account for the necessary time.

The GED used to only be offered in-person. However, they now offer the option to take the exam online. Review the links below for more information:

  1. Register for the GED
  2. Find a GED Testing Center
  3. Taking the GED Online

#5 – Take the Exam and Get Your GED Certification

The final step for getting your GED is to take the exam and pass each section. You will need to score a 145 or higher on each section in order to pass. You can read more about GED scores  to learn more specific information about scoring.

An image showing a GED diploma

GED Requirements FAQs

The actual process for getting your GED is not difficult. There are a couple of requirements, but most of them are pretty straightforward. The hard part of getting a GED is the actual preparation needed before taking the exam.

Many individuals have been out of school for a while before taking the GED. This requires them to get back into an education mindset and dedicate some time to studying. However, with some preparation, you should be able to pass the exam and get your certification.

This varies on a state-by-state basis. However, the youngest age you can be is 16. Some states require you to be 17 or 18. Reference the table above for specific state GED requirements.

Yes, you can get your GED at age 16. However, this is only available for 25 states. You can review the GED requirements by state in the table above and view the minimum age for different states.

The cost to take the GED varies state by state. You can expect to pay about $30 per subject test which comes out to about $120 if you are taking all GED subject tests.

Dave Evangelisti
Dave is our founder and CEO. He has 20+ years of experience in the testing and test prep industry.