Many colleges and universities require GED graduates to take the SAT or ACT college entrance exam to determine their college readiness level.
So yes, you can take the SAT with a GED and it is often even required.
College-bound GED grads that scored in the GED® ‘college-ready’ or ‘college-ready plus credits’ ranges may, however, have this requirement waived depending on the school’s admissions policy.
Practically all U.S. institutions of post-secondary education accept the GED degree in lieu of a common high school diploma. However, there are still schools that have additional requirements for GED holders.
Applicants with GED scores in the GED ‘high school equivalency’ passing score (145-164 out of 200) usually need to take the SAT or ACT test.
This allows schools to determine what remedial courses are required for the students to take before they can be admitted to credit-bearing academic courses.
GED scores compared to SAT scores
The GED exam contains four separate modules that cover the academic content fields of Social Studies, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Reasoning through Language Arts.
The GED subtests are scored on a 100-200 scale and there are four GED scoring ranges: 100-144 is below-passing; 145-164 is HS equivalency; 165-174 is college-ready; 175-200 is college-ready + up to 10 college credits.
The SAT is scored out of 1600 and the average score is 1000. Your total score is a combination of your scores on the reading/writing and math sections, and the maximum composite SAT score is 800+800, so 1600.
On the SAT, writing an essay is not required and if you do, it is not factored into the overall SAT score report.
If you write an essay, your score is shown separately on your report. For more information about GED scoring, check here.
Do GED students need an SAT or ACT?
More and more schools accept the ‘college-ready’ GED scores meaning college-bound GED holders with scores in those ranges in all four GED subject tests have the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Test) requirement waived.
Well, the fact of the matter is that if you command the specific GED words and GED vocabulary in general well, your chances of reaching s good score report on the GED exam will improve significantly. You’ll understand the questions better and be able to produce correct answers faster.
Some states also use state-specific college entrance tests to determine the college readiness of students. Texas has the TSI (Texas Success Initiative) Assessments, for example, that all students must take before admission to a public Texas institution of higher education unless they hold exempt status.
SAT vs GED
The most important difference between the GED and SAT is that the GED credential demonstrates that the holder has knowledge and skills at the same level as high school grads and that the SAT is an admissions test for students looking to enter college.
The SAT and ACT have set the standards for assessing the college-readiness level of college-bound students for a long time across the U.S. but with the latest edition of the challenging computer-based GED exam, an increasing number of American institutions of higher education additionally accept GED College-Ready scores.
GED vs SAT difficulty
Some people think that the GED is a bit easier than the SAT or ACT but taking the GED and attaining scores in the college-ready ranges is very challenging, especially for students that typically made low grades during their high school years and quit school prematurely.
The GED exam allows students to demonstrate that they have skills and knowledge at the level of holders of a common high school diploma. Attaining passing scores on the four GED modules proves that they are academically advanced at a level that compares to that of high school grads.
GED students that have received passing scores across the four subtests can apply for jobs that require a high school degree and apply to college in the same way as holders of a high school diploma.
The Scholastic Assessment Test
The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) is a standardized, computer-adaptive test used by many colleges and universities and required to be taken by high school juniors or seniors before the schools will accept them for admission to their academic programs.
The SAT measures knowledge and skills in the subject fields of reading, writing, and mathematics in two testing fields: writing/reading and math. Students will receive separate scores in each of these two subdivisions.
SAT testing will take 4 hours and the test includes 10 separate sections that include both multiple-choice and essay-style questions. For each of the two SAT subdivisions (reading/writing and math), test-takers receive scores between 200 and 800. A 500-score is considered average.
So an overall score of 1800 is the maximum possible score possible but on average, students score around 1000. Decent preparation is absolutely needed to attain good SAT or GED scores so taking a GED or SAT prep course including numerous practice tests will prove to be very helpful to score as high as possible.
Most schools require certain SAT scores for admission. The scores tell the schools to what extent the students are academically advanced and whether they are able to attend credit-bearing college courses successfully.
Different colleges and universities may require different SAT scores for admission, so please check with the admissions department of your preferred school to learn what score is required.
To start college, do I need to get a GED or SAT?
Many community colleges, technical colleges, and junior colleges use an open enrollment system, meaning applicants don’t need a high school diploma or GED to get in, and taking the SAT or ACT is also not required.
Applicants just need to be at least 18 of age and fill out the schools’ application forms. Even for students looking to earn a bachelor’s degree, attending a community college may be very beneficial.
By enrolling in a community college, students may meet prerequisite course requirements for a 4-year school at probably a more affordable rate.
When completing the community college program, they have also demonstrated that they are able to handle college-level course work, and they can earn credentials such as specialized certificates or AA degrees.
Generally, community colleges don’t offer programs that lead to a bachelor’s degree, though we can see more and more states that start to do so. But isn’t it great that these schools offer so many educational opportunities?
So if you’re thinking of getting a 2-year degree, signing up for a community college may very well be your best option. Generally, community colleges are far more affordable than 4-year colleges and universities and, usually, they offer many postsecondary certificate programs and associate degrees.
A 2-year degree from a community college can really bump your application to a 4-year college or university ahead and keep in mind that a strong GPA will be complimenting your GED scores in a tremendous way!
What school to apply to
To decide which course you may take, or what school to apply to, think first of subjects that interest you or that you find exciting. These are generally the subject fields you find fun and easy to study for.
There are, of course, other factors that should be considered if you want to be successful in college such as the school’s location, the entry requirements, tuition fees, and other costs, but if you choose a subject field that interests you, your chances of success are much higher.
So holding a GED diploma typically gives you access to college in a similar way as a high school diploma does and will lead to the same SAT score requirements. Keep also in mind that often, strong GED results give you much more wiggle room on the SAT.
The websites of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the University of Florida, for example, mention on their admissions pages that GED applicants must meet identical admission requirements as high school diploma holders.
A different way to get into college
The way students earn their GED (General Educational Development credentials is quite different from how students earn their high school diplomas.
The GED test offers students to earn the equivalency of a high school diploma through a 4-part exam that takes around 7 hours to complete. The four GED subtests may be dealt with separately. Earning a high school diploma is an achievement that will take four years.
GED testing is only available to individuals that didn’t finish their high school education. There could be many valid reasons why a student has quit high school prematurely, but especially at colleges with highly competitive admissions criteria, admission offices may take a closer look at the applications of GED graduates.
For many GED holders counts, especially for those that barely passed the exam, that they will have to make their college applications stand out. Volunteer work or a steady job, for example, may well help to offset some negative perceptions regarding the ability of GED holders to successfully attend college.
Unfortunately, these stigmas still exist. Keep in mind that your college application essay offers you the opportunity to tell your individual story. It offers you the chance to share why your chosen path was not simply the easy way out.
Then again, strong scores on the four GED subtests, and especially in the college-ready plus credit range (175-200), will definitely give you an edge over most high school graduates. Scoring in this range is definitely considered more than just academically equivalent to a standard high school diploma.
GED scores compared to GPA
It is difficult to translate GED scores to a high school GPA. The developers of the GED test do not suggest any equivalent, partly because GPA standards may vary from school to school, but you may come to some careful conclusions if you want.
Let’s try to kind of gauge what your GED score means. The GED organization (GED Testing Service) has used a random sample of high school graduates to develop their GED testing baseline.
So your GED score report is showing the percent of high school graduates that you have outperformed. And to merely pass a GED subtest, you’ll need to do better, meaning scoring higher, than 60 percent of all graduating high school seniors!
So academically, the GED has theoretically the same value as a high school diploma. GED testing is based on the same criteria as happens at the average U.S. high school. And don’t forget that standardized tests, regardless of what you think whether they can actually measure knowledge or not, are frequently used in your future college.
Do colleges accept students with a GED?
More than 98 percent of all North American colleges and universities accept GED diplomas in the same way as they accept high school diplomas.
But many 4-year academic educational institutions have very selective or rigorous admission standards. That’s where your GED score report comes to play a crucial role, and taking the SAT or ACT and performing extremely well on these tests may prove to be critical for admission.
The fact of the matter is that the more competitive the admission standards of a college or university are, the more you’ll have to compensate for what you’re missing in your application. So it may be wise to apply to more than just one school.
So holding your GED diploma is often not all you need. If you haven’t attained scores in the college-ready ranges (165-174 or 175-200), and you want to apply to a 4-year university or college, chances are you’ll additionally have to sit for the SAT or ACT exam as well and even a GED college-ready score doesn’t guarantee that requirement will be waived.
Traditional colleges experience
If you want to enroll in a 4-year college or university and enjoy the traditional on-campus college experience, your GED will definitely get you there though you may face some extra obstacles you’ll have to deal with. Many famous and successful Americans are GED holders!
Not every academic institution will treat GED holders in the same way as they treat high school graduates, though overall, that practice is disappearing. There are still some differences, though, especially for students looking to get into the U.S. armed forces.
Then, there are also states where schools require college-bound students to pass a state-specific college entry exam. However, GED holders with college-ready scores across all four GED subtests are often exempt from having to take these tests or from submitting ACT or SAT scores.
Does a GED qualify for financial aid?
Definitely! Your GED diploma qualifies you for federal financial aid just like a high school diploma does. You can apply for a federal grant or loan and don’t forget that there are numerous scholarships waiting for you. You only need to apply for them.
The fact of the matter is that you, as a GED holder, may very well be a ‘non-traditional’ student meaning you could be eligible for some unique scholarship opportunities. Just go online and discover your options. You’ll be amazed!
If you want federal financial aid, you’ll have to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This is how the U.S. federal government determines if and how much financial help you require.
Bear in mind that you may also qualify for one of the scholarships offered by the institution you apply to. So when applying to a college or university, take a good look at the school’s financial aid section.
Last Updated on October 4, 2021.