The GED (General Educational Development) degree is a high school equivalency credential that is earned after passing a group of four independent subject tests.
The GED degree certifies that the holder has North American high school-level knowledge and academic skills.
The GED test is for adults who did not complete their regular high school education. The test is available online and at certified test sites.
The diploma that’s awarded upon successful completion of the four GED® modules (subtests) is equivalent to a regular high school diploma. The GED diploma is the next step towards college or a new career.
The GED test comprises four independent subtests in ‘Language Arts’ (Writing and Reading combined), ‘Social Studies’, ‘Science’, and ‘Mathematics’ and requires a little over seven hours to complete.
There’s no need, however, to take all four subtests in one session. The GED test is modular and you have the option to take the four subject tests one at a time.
The GED test is entirely computerized. Paper-based testing is no longer an option, everything must be done on a computer.
In most states, applicants who want to take the GED test and earn a GED degree must be at least 16 years of age though, for underage test-takers (16 and 17), strict additional requirements apply.
These candidates must be officially withdrawn from school and hold parental consent, just to mention a few. Check out also our post about dual-enrollment courses offered by universities and colleges.
The GED test is administered under the direction of the American Council of Education (ACE) in combination with Pearson VUE, one of America’s major educational publishers.
Every year, some four hundred thousand adults take the GED test in order to get better jobs, earn promotions, further their careers, or be eligible for education at a university or college.
Some states offer high school equivalency testing only to state residents.
Keep in mind, though, that the GED (an acronym for General Education Development) is a state exam and that regulations may vary slightly by state, so get well informed.
The GED test was given only at designated test centers but now, there also is an online GED testing option.
There are grade schools and community colleges that you still can go to without a GED, but most colleges and universities require you to hold the degree. More than 96% of American universities and colleges accept the GED degree in lieu of a high school diploma.
Underage GED test-takers
In most states, GED test-takers must be at least 18 years of age but 16- and 17-year-olds may also qualify if they meet further strict requirements. They can, for example, not be signed up for another school program, hold parental permission, be officially withdrawn from high school, and hold an age waiver from their school districts. Click here to learn more about age waivers and how to get one.
There are also states that require underage testers to attend a prep course and attain satisfactory scores on a practice test, for example, the GED Ready test to show they are ready to sit for the exam. Other states require underage test-takers to have been officially out of school for a certain time frame.
For a few years, there have been two alternative high school equivalency tests available in America, the TASC and HiSET exams. States decide which option they are using and quite a few states use multiple options. Check here for an overview of GED developments through the years.
Regardless of which exam you take, you will see that it’s absolutely worth getting your GED diploma. Your job options will drastically improve and the doors of colleges will open up to you.
The GED must be taken entirely on a computer whereas the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) and the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) are offered on paper and on a computer except for New Jersey where all options must be dealt with in a computerized format.
The GED exam is a seven-hour exam that checks the important basic skills of the candidate but the four subtests can be taken one or more at a time as said above. Some homeschooled students also are looking to earn a GED as it is an affordable way to get into college, especially if they score in the GED College-Ready ranges.
Test-takers who have earned their GED degree have shown that they have thinking, reading, writing, and math skills that are the key foundation for jobs and higher education which qualifies them for a college education.
Over the past few decades, the GED test has provided personal, professional, and academic satisfaction to the millions of adults who were unable to complete their formal high school education. Students that attain GED scores in the ‘college-ready’ and ‘college-ready PLUS credit’ ranges may also see the SAT or ACT testing requirement waived.
The four GED subtests (modules) are measured on a 100-200 scale and the minimum score on each of the four GED modules is 145. Averaging is no option! There are three GED passing score ranges:
High School Equivalency: 145-164
College-Ready Score: 165-174
College-Ready Score PLUS Up To 10 College Credits: 175-200
GED degree vs high school degree
Across the nation, there are still some stigmas associated with GED degree holders but nowadays, that’s absolutely not fair anymore. There are several occasions where a GED is not considered equivalent to a grade 12 education, particularly in the armed forces.
The fact of the matter is that some sections of the U.S. Armed Forces prefer high school grads over GED holders but there are so many highly successful people that are GED degree holders.
In the past, some employers and institutions of higher education expressed opinions that perhaps high school graduates were more persistent and motivated than GED graduates but these days, the GED passing criteria are so rigorous that this a thing of the past.
However, some employers still are biased when it comes to hiring new employers and we still see situations where high school graduates are making more money than their GED counterparts.
Due to the changes implemented in the GED exam, however, expectations are that the differences will disappear soon though there still are quite a few stigmas associated with holding a GED.
Today, the diploma that’s received upon successful completion of the four GED subtests is truly high school diploma-equivalent. Around forty percent of U.S. high school grads would not be able to pass the tests on their first attempts!
Last Updated on October 4, 2021.