GED Requirements-What You Need To Know

GED requirements guard who can take the GED® test. The rules are strict and related to age, level of education, and residency. Read on to get familiar with all GED prerequisites.

The GED test is an American High School Equivalency exam for individuals who could not complete their regular high school education.

It is a state-specific exam created and administered by ACE (the American Council of Education) together with publisher PearsonVUE. GED testing requirements may vary slightly by state.

There are four independent GED subtests that cover the academic subject areas of Language Art, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science. The four GED subtests must be taken on a computer.

There is no paper-formatted test anymore and GED hopefuls can also not be registered for another educational program.

Who can take the GED test?

The GED exam consists of four independent modules or subtests and can be taken by an adult individual that doesn’t have a high school diploma. In most states, the minimum age to qualify for GED testing is sixteen though some states require a higher minimum age.

The GED diploma is awarded when test-takers attain sufficient scores on each of the four GED modules. These scores are measured on a 100-200 scale and the passing score is 145 on all four subtests. Many students can benefit from GED tutoring to get them ready for the test and attain better jobs.

The GED exam was administered only at state-designated testing centers, but recently, an online proctored testing option was welcomed as well.

How old do you need to be?

Most states require GED test-takers to be at least 16 years of age. For underage applicants (16 or 17 years old) however, some strict additional criteria apply such as being officially withdrawn from school, holding permission from their school districts, and having parental consent.

Residency requirements

As said above, the GED is a state exam and regulations vary slightly by state. Some states subsidize GED testing partly or fully and residency requirements also vary by state. For the situation in your state, go to this page.

Generally, states that subsidize GED testing (or one of the alternatives TASC and/or HiSET exams) require test-takers to be state residents while states that do not subsidize the test generally do not require state residency.

States with residency requirements are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Obligatory classes and pre-tests

The GED subtests are pretty rigorous. Testing takes place at a level that is comparable to the academic knowledge level of high school seniors. Many colleges require college-bound students to take the ACT or SAT college entrance exam but students with GED scores in the ‘college-ready’ range may see this requirement waved.

So it is recommended that test-takers not only prepare extensively for the tests but also take the official GED Ready® practice test that indicates whether the student is “likely to pass” the real thing or that extra preparation is needed.

In some states, GED hopefuls must take and pass an official qualification test before they can register for the exam. Some states require test-takers to take the official GED Ready test and score at least in the Likely to Pass or Too Close to Call range before they are allowed to take the official test. In most states, however, there is no such requirement. For an overview of the situation in your state, check out this post.

In Arizona, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, students must also take and pass a Constitution test to earn their GED diplomas and in North Dakota, GED applicants must additionally pass a Civics Test.

States requiring applicants to first register for a prep course or take and pass a pre-test (such as the GED Ready practice test) are Arkansas, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Can you sign up for the GED test without prep classes?

This question is answered in the paragraph above. The GED is a state exam and, as stated above, states have the liberty to impose their specific requirements, also when it comes to taking prep classes before test-takers qualify for GED testing.

However, because the four GED subtests assess your knowledge and skills at a rigorous level, you should absolutely become perfectly prepared. There are numerous sites where preparation classes are offered across the nation and these days, online GED prep courses have gained much popularity as well. This website offers you also lots of free GED practice tests to help you get all set for the real thing real fast!

Age requirements

As indicated above, the GED is a state exam, and regulations and requirements may vary by state, though in general, you need to be 16 years of age to be eligible to take the GED exam or one of the alternatives (TASC or HiSET).

Be aware, though, that for test-takers 16 or 17 years old, extra requirements apply. Underage applicants need to have permission from their school districts and have parental approval as well. In some states, they also must first pass a qualification practice test. For age requirements in your state, check out this page.

How many times can you take the GED test?

You can take the four GED subtests one at a time. In case you failed one of the four subject tests, you have two subsequent retests at a reduced rate and usually, there are no restrictions with regards to retakes but state regulations vary so check out this post about what happens if you fail a GED subtest.

If you also didn’t pass that subject test for the third time, however, you’ll have to wait for at least 60 days before you can take that section again in most states. Please keep in mind that states may impose additional requirements so get well informed.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of American adults sit for the GED exam to qualify for a college education, get a decent job, earn promotions, and work toward a better future.

The fact of the matter is that practically all American colleges and universities are accepting the GED diploma in lieu of a common high school credential.


Last Updated on August 30, 2020.

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