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How to Get a GED

Three Methods:Understand GED BasicsPrepare to Take the GEDTake the GED

The GED, which stands for General Educational Development, is a test developed by the American Council on Education (ACE) that determines whether you have knowledge comparable to that of a high school graduate. The GED is accepted at the majority of colleges, technical schools and employers as equivalent to a high school degree. Read on for information about how to prepare for and take the GED.

Method 1
Understand GED Basics

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    Review your state's requirements for taking the GED. In most states you must be at least sixteen years of age and not currently enrolled in a high school. The requirements are different for every state.
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    Know what the GED entails. The GED tests your knowledge in five subject areas: writing, mathematics, social studies and history, science, and reading.
    • The writing section is composed of two parts.The first section tests your skills in grammar, word usage, spelling and capitalization, and the second section is a written essay in response to a prompt or question.
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    • The mathematics section covers arithmetic, measurement, basic algebra, geometry, number relations, trigonometry and data analysis of charts and graphs. It is also split into two parts.
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    • The social studies portion includes geography, civics and government and economics.
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    • The science section tests life science, physical science and earth science.
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    • The reading portion tests sentence structure, reading comprehension and language usage.
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    Know how long you have to take each subject test. The GED is taken over the course of 7 hours and 45 minutes. Depending on which testing center you choose, you may be able to divide the test into parts taken on separate days, rather than sitting for the entire test at once.
    • The first writing section contains 50 questions to be answered in 80 minutes, and the second writing section gives 45 minutes to plan, write and edit an essay.
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    • Each mathematics section contains 50 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.
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    • The social studies component contains 50 questions in 70 minutes.
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    • The science portion of the test contains 50 questions to be answered in 80 minutes.
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    • The reading portion of the test contains 40 questions to be answered in 65 minutes.
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    Understand the scoring system. The scores for each subject test range from 200 to 800. In order to pass the test, you must have a total score of at least 2250, and you must score at least 410 in each individual subject area. Note that the arithmetic is wrong in the illustration!

Method 2
Prepare to Take the GED

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    Start studying. Several months you plan to take the GED, begin studying for the test using a GED preparation book or online resources.
    • Begin by taking a practice test. This will show you which areas you should target for further studying.
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    Retain good study habits. That is the main key to GED success. Every day at the same time, sit down at the same place and study hard!
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    Consider getting outside help. Most communities have adult education programs that are often connected to finding employment or entering a certification program or college.
    • GED preparation courses are available at many community colleges and literacy centers. They provide tips on how to study for the test, more information on what to expect, and additional practice tests. Search to find preparation courses in your area.
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    • If it isn't convenient for you to sign up for a GED preparation class in person, consider taking one online.
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    Develop a test-taking strategy. It's not easy to concentrate for over seven hours straight. It's important to strategize ways to get through the test before you walk into the testing center.
    • Practice, practice, practice. Get used to the feeling of sitting down and taking the tests while you time yourself.
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    • Talk with people who have taken the GED about what to expect, and ask them for tips.
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    • Most importantly, be prepared. If you've studied for each subject test and done well during your practice tests, you'll be just fine on testing day.
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Method 3
Take the GED

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    Sign up for a test. Find a local GED testing center and sign up for a time that is available to you.
    • The GED must be taken at a testing center in person. It is not available online.
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    • Make sure that you give yourself enough time to adequately prepare for the test. You may want to schedule the test several months in advance.
    • In some cases you can pre-register online or download forms to print, fill out and mail in.
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    • If you have special needs, be sure to indicate that on your registration form. Your needs will be accommodated by your testing center.
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    Take the test. Arrive promptly on testing day and use the techniques you practiced to take the complete test.
    • If you arranged to take the test on several different days, make sure you complete each portion of the test.
    • Follow the test administrator's instructions closely so you don't disqualify yourself from taking the test that day.
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    Receive your score. Every testing center handles giving out scores differently. In some cases you may have to contact the testing center to receive your score, and in other cases it may be sent to you.
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    Take the test again. If you didn't pass, you may take the test again after a specified waiting period. Check your state's requirements and ask your testing center when you may schedule a second test time.


  • Arrive about ten minutes early to your test; you will not feel rushed and sometimes testing centers become packed.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours each night, especially in the weeks approaching your test.
  • Read plenty of material in your free time, including novels, newspapers and magazines. This will help to improve your reading comprehension and general knowledge of the English language.
  • It's a good idea to purchase the model of calculator that you will be using in the GED test and become familiar with its functions.


  • Do not attempt to take the GED test without studying first. You will be unprepared, and may be disappointed in your results.

Things You'll Need

  • a GED study book
  • plenty of college ruled paper
  • pencils
  • a scientific calculator like the CASIO fx-260 solar (the official GED testing calculator)
  • An open mind

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Tests and Exams