GED officially stands for General Educational Development, but is commonly assumed to mean General Equivalency Diploma or General Education Diploma. It is a group of five subject based tests. Taking and passing the tests allows the American or Canadian candidate to be granted a GED credential, often referred to as a diploma, which is widely treated as equivalent to graduating from high school. Since the test is never given by mail or online, taking it requires going to one of the many GED Testing Sites.
The American Council on Education (ACE) has overall responsibility for the GED program. However, much of the policy on what is required to take the tests and the scores required to pass are set by the states and provinces.. The actual administration of the test is handled locally. The ACE has a web site where much of the policy information is consolidated.
The ACE web site also has a GED Testing Center locator. Site locations may also be available from your state's Department of Education, or local adult education programs. There are thousands of testing sites located throughout the United States and Canada.
Candidates outside of the United States and Canada may be able to take the GED tests through a special program established by the Maine Department of Education. They have authorized the testing company Prometric to offer GED tests at sites located in most countries. Those who pass the tests will be given a Maine High School Equivalency Diploma.
Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations in the testing process. The disability must have been documented by a qualified professional. A wide range of accommodations are possible, from braille or large print versions of the test to extended testing time. This should be worked out through the testing center to be used.
Support for those preparing to take the GED tests is available in many areas. The ACE web site has information by state on official preparation resources. There are also many other preparation resources available. Free GED practice exams are available, but many do charge fees.
There are 5 GED tests. Candidates must take all of them. The criterion for passing is different in different states. With a minimum score of 200 and a maximum of 800, a typical passing requirement would be to have a minimum score of 410 on each test and an average score over all tests of 450.
The GED is intended to be approximately equivalent to graduation from high school. Some tests have indicated that it may actually be more difficult to pass the GED than to graduate from high school. In most situations passing the GED will be accepted as an alternative to high school graduation.