Earning Your GED in a Few Simple Steps 

How to get a GED

The GED is an acronym for the original name of the General Education Development credential. The GED examination was originally developed for returning veterans after the end of WWII, because so many high school-aged students had left to serve their country before they had had a chance to complete their high school education and earn a diploma. 

The GED was designed to determine if the academic knowledge of the test taker meets (or exceeds) the skills and knowledge of the average high school senior. Since 1943, more than 17 million individuals have earned the GED credential.  In this article, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to get a GED.

Since its inception, the GED acronym has also been used to describe the General Equivalency Diploma or the General Educational Diploma. Ultimately, though, these various monikers refer to the same high school equivalency credential one earns by passing a series of tests that comprise the complete GED exam. 

A GED credential holder has the appropriate credentials to apply for – 

  • Enrollment in a professional school or institution of higher learning to further one’s education
  • Civil service employment opportunities as well as most general employment jobs

The GED credential test was revamped back in 2014.   This significant revision ultimately removed one of the previous GED version’s subject areas. As a result, the refurbished GED now included four primary subject areas. Additionally, the 2014 revision of the GED test now evaluates each test-taker’s deep reasoning skills.  

However, it is noted that not every state recognizes the GED credential, as there are other similar credentials they require, i.e. the HiSET, the TASC, and the NEDP. It is imperative to check with the state’s education authority to confirm the requirements for that particular state. 

How To Get a GED: Step-by-Step

#1 - Confirm Your State’s GED Requirements

Every state has been authorized to set forth its own GED examination 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. 

Test-Guide.com offers a consolidated webpage that allows those interested in taking the GED to confirm their state's GED requirements

General GED Exam Requirements

Every state's GED rules and requirements speak to the following items regarding the test-taker -

  • Their 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. 

#2 -Prep for the GED Exam

The GED credential test is a four-section exam that is designed to reflect and assess the test-taker’s knowledge and aptitude of the core academic areas defined in a high school curriculum.  These sections include mathematics, science, social studies and language arts. 

Studying for the GED examination 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, it is noted that the exact amount of time a GED test-taker will need to prepare for the GED test will vary as it is contingent upon –

  • The student’s current knowledge and aptitude.
  • The amount of time the test-taker has been out of the classroom. 
  • The exact subject, among others.  

As you prepare to take the GED test, take advantage of the many online resources in place to help General Education Development credential exam takers excel on the test’s sections – 

>>Test-Guide.com's Free GED Practice Exams

#3 – Understand the GED Exam’s Format & Timing

Prepping for the GED credential exam is of utmost importance; however, it is also valuable to be certain that you take the time to understand the GED exam’s format and time constraints. Here are a few general concepts about the GED exam -

  • Most questions are answered by multiple-choice answers. However, the science, social studies and reading portions of the test require written answers or essay responses. 
  • Each state determines the test’s time limits.  
  • The scoring results for the GED test are typically available in about a day; sometimes as quickly as several hours after the GED exam.  
  • Although it varies by state, many GED test-takers have the opportunity to take each test separately (and in any order) or together. 
  • Student’s who successfully pass the GED exam become Federal student-aid eligible. 
  • Re-Test Rules – Most states allow GED test-takers two re-test attempts with little fuss. However, should the test-taker need a fourth attempt, there is generally a pre-established required waiting period.

Noted below are the four sections of the GED exam and each section’s time limits. 

Subject Section  Time Limits 
 Science - calculator allowed  90 minutes - No Breaks
 Mathematics  - 2 parts – calculator allowed on 2nd part  115 minutes - Scheduled Breaks
 Social Studies - calculator allowed  70 minutes - No Breaks
 Reasoning Through Language Arts  150 minutes - Scheduled Breaks
 45-minute essay
 Total  425 minutes ~ About 7 hours

More information about the exam can be found at the GED.com website.

#4 - Register Online for the GED Examination

When you have appropriately prepared for the GED test, the next step is to register to take the text and to set forth the dates, the testing location, and testing specifics moving forward. The registration process requires the creation of an online account. 

It is noted that 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. 

#5 – Take the GED Exam and Get Your GED Diploma

As noted above, the total time allotted to complete the entire four-section GED credential exam is 425 minutes, or 7 hours and 5 minutes. 

GED Diploma

Source: Nichoxiii [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How the GED is scored

GED Scores Explained 

Every section of the GED exam – Science, Mathematics, Social Studies and Reasoning through Language Arts – is scored separately. Each of the four subjects utilizes a scoring scale that ranges between 100 and 200 points. 

The GED testing service also assigns scoring levels for each of the subjects as follows:

  • The Perfect GED Credential Score is 200 points. 
  • Scores between 175 and 200 points are indicative of a test-taker who has shown great aptitude for college-level classes. In certain cases, a GED score within this range offers the test-taker potential college credits. The college credits offered, depend upon the college-level program you have applied to attend. Potentially, though, you could earn – 
    • 3 credits in the subject area of science for a score of 175+ on the science portion of the GED exam.
    • 3 credits in the subject area of mathematics for a score of 175+ on the science portion of the GED exam.
    • 3 credits in the subject area of social studies for a score of 175+ on the science portion of the GED exam.
    • 1 credit in the subject area of humanities for a score of 175+ on the science portion of the GED exam. 

GED test-takers who earn college credits by acing the GED exam will find that they have the opportunity to save on tuition costs and the time required to complete their degree of choice. 

  • Scores between 165 and 174 points – reflect that the test-taker is prepared to successfully pass college-level coursework. Additionally, a GED score in this range might exempt the test-taker from having to take a placement test or remedial coursework. 
  • A Passing GED credential Score is 145 points or higher on each subject test. 

To successfully pass the GED examination, a test-taker must score 145 or above on each of the four subject area tests. (Remember, state regulations vary. For example, the state of New Jersey requires GED test-takers to score at least 150 on all subject tests. 

Note - Adult learners scoring 170+ receive an honors GED diploma. 

Challenging your GED Score

If you believe that the GEDt credential score you received does not accurately reflect your performance on the GED’s written answers or essays, the test-taker must contact a GED customer service representative to request that the written responses on your GED exam be re-scored.

The cost of this re-score service that challenges your original score is $50. However, should the original GED score change, this $50 fee will be refunded to the test-taker. 

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