General Educational Development test
The General Educational Development test, or GED, is a test for individuals who didn't receive a high school diploma, but who wish to prove they have equivalent academic skills. You must be at least 17 years old to take the GED. The test is typically taken by individuals who have been out of school for several years and who, for personal or professional reasons, require a certified high school level education. However, the GED is also suitable for immigrants who don't have a recognized diploma. Students who pass the GED can enter colleges and universities.
How Do I Pass? What if I Fail?
Although it's often considered a single entity, the GED is actually comprised of five distinct tests, all of which must be passed to be granted a GED. You need a total of 2250 points, and a basic score of 400 on each test, in order to pass. The scores are derived from a special scoring system that isn't based on percentage or rank. If you fail any of the individual tests, you'll have to take that test over again. If necessary, you can take each test up to three times in the span of one year.
- The GED Writing Skills Test measures your ability to use Standard English in writing in two ways. Multiple choice questions test your knowledge in sentence structure, usage, punctuation, capitalization and ability to organize sentences. The second part is a 200 word essay in which the student is asked to demonstrate an ability to organize thoughts and express them clearly. Two hours are allotted for this section of the GED.
- The GED Social Studies Test is 80 minutes in length and tests knowledge of US geography, history, political science, behavioral science and economics. The student reads articles and essays on social science topics and answers questions about maps, charts and related graphs. Students are expected to understand broad concepts and trends in US history and politics.
- The GED Science Test covers life and physical sciences, and includes formats such as short essays, diagrams and charts. Students are expected to understand the context of the readings and answer questions based on a solid knowledge of science. 80 minutes are allotted for this section.
- The GED Literature and Arts Test includes excerpts from short stories, poetry and novels. Students are asked to understand and describe the themes, meaning, tone and mood of the pieces, expressing themselves in clear and concise English. This section is comprised of 40 questions and takes approximately 65 minutes.
- The GED Mathematics Test covers knowledge of arithmetic, algebra and geometry. Questions are posed as sentence problems that cover a variety of mathematical concepts. A calculator (provided by the test administrator) can be used for the first half of the math test, but not the second half. There are 50 questions in total, and a 90 minute period in which to complete them.
It's a good idea to spend a few months preparing for the test, particularly if you've been out of school for a long time. The best strategy is to organize your study time to prepare for each of the tests individually.
Several websites offer practice questions for GED preparation, but the official test cannot be taken online. You will need to find a local literacy centre that is sanctioned to administer GEDs.
GED for Foreign Language Students
Few foreign language students know that they can take the GED in their own language. The GED is available in Spanish, French, large print, audio tape, and braille.