How to Get Your GED: a Guide to Earning a GED

Earning a GED credential requires preparation but can open the doors to many opportunities. Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to attain your GED.

How Do I Earn a GED?

If you did not finish high school in the United States, you may seek better employment opportunities or higher education by obtaining a General Educational Development (GED) credential. A GED is equal to a high school diploma and can be earned by passing the GED exam. The exam is comprised of four subjects, and three months of preparation are generally necessary.

Step One: Research State Guidelines

The first simple step to getting your GED is to check your state requirements. Generally, if you are not enrolled in high school and are eighteen, you qualify. Fees and re-take procedures vary by state, and some states allow testing at sixteen or seventeen.

Step Two: Prepare for the Test

Next, prepare for the test. The general timeline to prepare for the GED exam is three months, depending on your existing knowledge and study schedule. There are several resources available online from the GED Testing Service; courses are also available through local adult education centers. Practice tests may be helpful. Some states require completion of an official GED preparation program.

Step Three: Schedule the Test

Registering for the test can be done before, after, or during preparation. Register and pay the fee either through GED Testing Service or at a local learning center. The GED Testing Service site allows you to create an online account, choose which subjects to take, pay for the subjects separately based on your state's fee schedule, and select a day and time at a testing center near you.

Step Four: Take the Test

The next step is to take the test on your designated appointment date at your designated testing center. The test is administered through a computer station. If taking all four GED sections, seven and a half hours are required to complete the test. The exam may be taken one subject at a time. It is helpful to know the various timeframes allotted to take each section:

  • Mathematical Reasoning: 115 minutes
  • Language Arts: 150 minutes
  • Social Studies: 70 minutes
  • Science: 90 minutes

Special accommodations can be requested to aid testers with learning disabilities, handicaps, and vision impairment.

Step Five: Check Your Score

Next, it is time to check your score. The score is completely automated and can be obtained within 24 hours after you test. The required score for passing is a 145 on each section (150 in New Jersey) or a total score of at least 580. The scores on the GED test are divided into three categories for the purpose of demonstrating how prepared you are for employment or college courses:

  • 145-164 is a passing score, and it is indicative of having achieved the equivalency of a high school diploma with the same skill set as an average graduating senior.
  • 165-174 is college ready, and this indicates that you are ready for some college-level courses and may be able to skip remedial courses and placement tests.
  • 175-200 is a college ready + credit score, meaning the test taker may qualify for up to 10 college credits.

Step Six: Get Your GED

The next step after passing your test is to obtain your GED and use it to increase college and employment opportunities. Official documents are issued through your state of residence, and the GED diploma and transcripts can be sent to your home. Each state does have differing policies for receiving transcripts, and these can viewed at the GED Testing Service site. You will need these transcripts to apply to colleges or complete scholarship applications. With your new GED diploma in hand, you can view opportunities and start making plans for a bright future.

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