Over 15 million people have earned a General Educational Development (or GED) since the program began after WWII. The GED tests, also known as General Education Diploma, General Equivalency Diploma or Graduate Equivalency Degree, were initially created to serve those returning from war re-enter the work force. Currently, 1 in 7 Americans with high school credentials have received the GED, as well as one in 20 college students.
The GED tests are broken down into five (5) different subject tests, that when passed, certifies the student as achieving American or Canadian high school-level academic skill levels. The testing is only available to individuals who have not already earned a high school diploma. It is not intended for upgrading or improving on already achieve grades.
The most common modern day reasons for students not having received a high school diploma include adult immigration to the United States or Canada, dropping out of high school early for personal or medical reasons, the inability to pass required courses or mandatory achievement tests, the need to work or wanting to get into college early.
In addition to English, the GED tests are available in Spanish, French, large print, audiocassette, and braille. Tests and test preparation are routinely offered in prisons and on military bases in addition to more traditional settings. Individuals living outside the United States, Canada, or U.S. territories may be eligible to take the GED Tests through private testing companies.
GED classes help you prepare for each of the five mandatory tests. These test subjects are “Language Arts – Writing”, “Social Studies”, “Science”, “Language Arts – Reading”, and “Mathematics”. Classes are located all throughout the US and Canada, and those students ready to take the final tests can find more than 3,200 Official GED Testing Centers.
What Is Included on The GED Tests?
Here is the official breakdown of the GED testing subjects, along with exactly what is expected of you, according to Wikipedia:
Language Arts: Writing
The “Language Arts: Writing” test portion is divided into two parts, of which the first covers sentence structure, organization, usage, and mechanics. Test-takers read text from business, informational, and instructional publications and then correct, revise, or improve the text according to Edited American English standards (or equivalent standards in Spanish and French versions). Test-takers have 75 minutes to complete the 50 items in Part I.
This part of the “Language Arts: Writing” test requires the student to write an essay on an assigned topic in 45 minutes. Persons who finish Part I early may apply the remaining time to their essays. A passing essay must have well-focused main points, clear organization, and specific development of ideas, and demonstrate the writer’s control of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice, and spelling. There is no minimum word count.
The essay should be long enough to develop the topic adequately. Assigned topics are always an opinion or perspective that does not require special knowledge, such as the influence of violent music on teenagers or the advantages and disadvantages of living without children.
This test covers American history, world history, civics and government, economics, and geography; 70 minutes are allotted for the 50 questions.
In the social studies test, test-takers read short passages and answer multiple-choice questions. Some passages come from such documents as the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Many questions use graphs, charts, and other images, such as editorial cartoons, along with or instead of written passages.
Questions involving economics as well as civics and government rely heavily on practical documents, such as tax forms, voter-registration forms, and workplace and personal budgets. Topics such as global warming and environmental law also are covered.
This 80-minute test of 50 multiple-choice questions covers life science, earth science, space science, and physical science. It measures the candidate’s skill in understanding, interpreting, and applying science concepts to visual and written text from academic and workplace contexts.
The test focuses on what a scientifically literate person must know, understand, and be able to do. Questions address the National Science Education Content Standards and focus on environmental and health topics (recycling, heredity, and pollution, for example) and science’s relevance to everyday life. Students should expect to see tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams, as well as complete sentences.
Most questions on the “Science” test involve a graphic, such as a map, graph, chart, or diagram. Subjects covered include photosynthesis, weather and climate, geology, magnetism, energy, and cell division.
Language Arts: Reading
This 65-minute, 40-question test examines a test-taker’s ability to read and understand texts similar to those encountered in high-school English classrooms. The test has five fiction and two nonfiction passages, each about 300–400 words long. The fiction passages include portions of a play, a poem, and three pieces of prose. The nonfiction passages may come from letters, biographies, newspaper and magazine articles, or such “practical” texts as manuals and forms. Each passage is followed by questions that assess reading comprehension, as well as the test-taker’s ability to analyze the text, apply the information given to other situations, and synthesize new ideas from those provided.
Questions do not require test-takers to be familiar with the larger piece of literature from which the excerpt is taken, the author’s other works, literary history, or discipline-specific terms and conventions.
This 90-minute, 50-question test has two equally weighted parts, the first of which allows candidates to use calculators, while the second forbids their use. Test-takers must use the calculators issued at the testing center, no other.
Forty of the 50 questions are multiple-choice; the other 10 use an alternate format, requiring the test-taker to record answers on either a numerical or coordinate-plane grid. Both portions of the test have questions of both types. The test booklet offers a page of common formulas as well as directions for completing the alternate-format items and using the calculator.
The test focuses on four main mathematical disciplines:
- Number operations and number sense
- Measurement and geometry
- Data analysis, probability, and statistics
- Algebra, functions, and patterns