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The GED - Common Questions and the Answers

The GED is the General Education Development credential. For adults who never finished high school, statistics show it's adult learners' best alternative to a high school diploma.

The first GED Tests were developed in 1942 to help war veterans finish their basic education. Today, there are more than 39 million adults in the US who don't have a high school degree. For them, the GED is the best solution to advance in education, a job or career, and to build financial security.

But many people don't understand the GED and the process of how to get it. As a GED instructor, curriculum developer and volunteer online forum moderator with Essential Education Corporation and PassGED, I've answered hundreds of questions from students. It's likely their most common questions and answers will be helpful to people who need more information about the test and the testing process.

What does the GED actually test?

The GED is a set of five tests, which measures knowledge of math, science, social studies, reading and writing. For the science, social studies and reading tests, you need to be able to read a short passage, and then answer questions that show you understand the information that's given.

These tests mostly measure your ability to make evaluations and inferences in the material.

The math test requires knowledge of basic number operations, very basic geometry and algebra and some data analysis. You'll also want to know how to use a scientific calculator, since part of the test allows you to use one.

The writing test has two parts. The first is a multiple-choice test about the mechanics of English usage. The second is an essay test, and youíll write based on your background and experiences.

What's a passing score on the GED test?

That's the big question, right? The standard scores for the GED tests range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 800 on each test. To pass, you must score about 60% on each test, which translates to a score of at least 410 on each GED test to pass it, and an overall average score of 450 for the five-test battery. This means that your score for any individual GED test cannot be below 410, but if you get some that low, you need other GED tests to be well above 410 so that the scores for all five GED tests average out to at least 450.

Each question on the GED test equals one point. You can miss one out of three questions, and still pass the GED.

The essay portion of the test is scored differently, and readers score it based on your writing ability to use language and your word choices.

What's the pass/fail rate?

On average, two out of three people who take the GED Test pass. The better prepared you are for the test, the greater your chances of doing well.

Why do some people pass easily, and other people fail?

Some people seem to pass the GED test the first time they take it, without studying. It's likely that they are good test-takers, and they can remember lots of knowledge from high school. But since one out of three people don't pass, this is the exception to the rule. To pass the first time, most people really need to spend some time getting ready for the test.

How do I increase my chances of passing?

The best advice is to study as much as possible for the GED test. The biggest reason people don't pass it the first time is that they donít prepare well enough. What this means is that you'll probably need to spend time relearning some of the skills and knowledge you've forgotten since high school. But don't panic. If you do a little studying in the right areas, you can pass it.

It's also a good idea to get familiar with the test, so you know what to expect and to increase your test-taking skills. Taking some GED practice testsis a good idea. It will show you how the test works, give you an idea of a score and help you identify areas where you most need to study.

Whatís the best way to study?

Taking some classes is always a good idea. Most communities have classes through their local high schools, community colleges or universities. But often it's hard to fit them into your schedule, especially if you have job and family obligations. And lots of my students have problems with childcare and transportation. If going to a class is a problem, you can find some GED study-at-home programs and online GED classes that allow you to work at your own pace, on your own schedule. Just make sure the online education you choose is the real thing - lots of companies are out there that promise bogus diplomas after simple online tests.

You can also get preparation books, study guides and GED practice tests, which will help you get ready for the GED test. Many are available online, but your local library or community college may offer GED materials through loan programs at no charge. You may also find materials in your local bookstore. Chances are, stores that sell used books, or even thrift stores will also have some GED test prep books.

Where do I take the GED test?

The GED tests are given at official test centers in all major cities across the U.S. and Canada. Even though some companies or schools claim you can get your GED online, you can't. The GED is not given online, only at official test centers. International testing is also available.

More Resources
You can find test site information at passGED to help you locate your local official test center, at Source for online practice tests:

Study hard, and good luck on your GED!

About the Author: Leonard Williams, an e-learning instructor with, is also a curriculum specialist who focuses on research and development, implementation and assessment of best-practice learning solutions for adult learners and people with educational challenges. Leonardís email is He invites feedback and questions from GED students and instructors.

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