The GED® (General Education Development) diploma is generally considered equal to a mid-level common high school diploma in terms of skills, basic information, work ethic, and so on.
But the GED credential is, though the equivalency of a high school degree, not in all ways equal to a regular high school diploma, so saying that a GED is equivalent to a grade 12 would be not correct.
Passing the four independent subtests (modules) of the GED exam will result in a diploma that’s equivalent to a regular high school degree. The requirements, however, are quite different, and so may be the results.
The GED exam is a great option for individuals who did not complete their high school curriculum and are not in a position to complete high school.
The credential is recognized and accepted by practically all U.S. universities and colleges and employers as proof that the holder has academic skills and knowledge at a level comparable to that of high school graduates.
Just about all jobs in America require applicants to be educated at a level of at least Grade 12 or equivalent.
Grade 12, twelfth grade, or senior year is the last year of secondary education (high school) in North America. Twelfth grade is graduation year, the last year of a student’s high school education.
What classes do students take in 12th grade?
The 12th-grade curriculum usually includes classes in Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and General Electives. Students may also choose to take classes in a Foreign Language.
- Math classes cover typically Algebra 2 and/or Precalculus and/or Statistics.
- Science includes typically classes in Physics and Chemistry
- Social Studies may include classes in U.S. & World History, Economics, and/or Geography
- General Electives include typically classes in Fine Arts, Music, Psychology, Technology, Computer Science, and Physical Education, just to mention a few
- Foreign Language classes may cover Spanish or French
There are also community colleges that provide high school completion programs. Simply put, these are programs in which students can receive their high school diplomas in preparation for college or university entrance.
Students looking to enroll in college should already in high school take classes that prepare them for their chosen academic field(s). Study advisors will help them decide on what to take. This is a great advantage compared to college-bound GED grads.
High school equivalency
High school equivalency in the U.S. means that students have knowledge and skills at the same level as students who finished high school (grade 12).
They can achieve that status by completing the GED exam or one of the available alternatives, the HiSET and TASC exams. Which option is available depends on the state. When we say GED here, we refer to the credential that’s awarded upon completing one of the HSE exams.
The high school equivalency exam
Through a high school equivalency (HSE) test, people without a high school diploma have the option to demonstrate that they have the same knowledge and skills as high school grads.
By achieving HSE status, they will be able to create a better future. The credential allows for better employment options as, even at the entry-level, most positions require at least e high school or equivalent degree, and the diploma also opens the doors toward a college education.
Once students have passed the GED, HiSET, or TASC exam, their state or jurisdiction awards them with their high school equivalency diploma or certificate, depending on the state.
Let’s take a look at some key differences between a high school diploma and a GED. One difference is the time needed for completion.
To earn a high school diploma, students usually invest four years, though many students manage to complete their high school degree in just three years.
A GED, however, is a four-subtest exam that takes around 7 hours to complete though the four modules may be taken one at a time over an extended period of time.
The four GED subtests are independent modules that cover the academic subject fields of Mathematics, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.
Generally speaking, we can say that the GED high school equivalency exam assesses knowledge and skills relative to Grade-12 English and Grade-10 Applied Math.
The tests are computer-adaptive, however, so this corresponds to the high school equivalency GED passing level (145-164 on the 100-200 GED scoring scale). More about GED scoring below.
Computer-adaptive GED exam
The GED exam must be completed entirely on a computer and the four modules are computer-adaptive. This means that the difficulty level of the questions is based on the answers given.
If students answer questions correctly, the difficulty level will go up, and if they answer incorrectly, the level will go down.
The four GED modules always needed to be taken at authorized GED testing centers. It used to be that there was no online option to deal with the exam.
But recently, GED Testing Service has introduced an online proctored option as well to deal with the four GED modules. Not all states participate in the GED online testing program.
Four GED scoring ranges
The four GED modules are scored on a scale that’s running from 100 to 200. In each module, students are required to attain a score of at least 145 out of 200.
The four GED scoring ranges are as follows:
- 100-144: scoring in this range means failing the subtest. The passing score on each subtest is 145.
- 145-164: scoring in this range means the test-takers have a high school equivalent level of skills and knowledge.
- 164-174: scoring in this range indicates that students are college-ready. They are qualified to attend credit-bearing college coursework.
- 175-200: scoring in this indicates that test-takers are not only ready for college but that they will also get up to ten college credits depending on the subject field and the school.
Keep in mind that with a GED, just like with a common HS diploma, you may still be required to take additional courses in, for example, science or math to be eligible for attending a school’s academic programs.
On the other hand, an increasing number of post-secondary educational institutions are accepting GED college-ready results and these students will have these requirements or submitting ACT/SAT scores waived.
Usually, colleges and universities require applicants to have completed coursework at the Grade-12 level, be it through a regular HS curriculum or through attaining college-ready scores on the GED modules.
What are good GED scores?
The passing score on each of the four GED modules is 145 points. So students are required to attain at least 580 points for the entire GED test (4 modules).
In that respect, 145 or 580 overall could be considered as good GED scores. These scores guarantee that you pass all of the GED subtests and that you’ll receive your state’s High School Equivalency Diploma. This may be the perfect solution to attain decent employment that requires a secondary education degree.
However, if it is your goal is to enroll in a credit-bearing college course, a 145 score per subject or 580 overall is definitely NOT sufficient. If you want to go to college, you really should aim for higher GED scores than just the passing scores and attain scores in one of the two college-ready categories.
Lack of a high school or GED diploma
The lack of a GED or high school diploma precludes students from getting a decently-paying and rewarding job and the option to get a college education.
So it is a crucial barrier to partake in the workforce successfully and students currently enrolled in high school need to understand that completing their high school curriculum is key for getting a better future.
Technically and legally the GED and a high school diploma are equivalent, but there are professional fields that prefer applicants to hold a high school degree rather than a GED. Just think of the Armed Forces where only a small percentage of recruiters will be accepted with a GED and for the Marines, qualification requirements are even more strict (more details below).
So if you can, see it through until high school graduation. For students who already quit high school, obtaining a GED will certainly give them an edge in the workforce.
Colleges, universities, businesses, state and federal government agencies, and all branches of the U.S. military accept the GED diploma in lieu of a common high school diploma. Be aware, though, that all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and especially the Air Force, have limitations as to the number of GED applicants they will enlist.
To qualify for attending college or university programs, both a high school diploma and a GED is good, and if students get accepted to college, they qualify for financial aid in the same way as high school graduates.
The U.S. Military
For the military, recruits are categorized into 3 tiers, or categories, based on the applicant’s education. High school graduates are enlisted in Tier 1, GED holders in Tier 2, and applicants that don’t have either are enlisted in Tier 3.
This means that regular high school diploma holders, assuming they pass the other requirements for enlistment such as physical and psychological assessments, will be accepted for military service before candidates from the other categories.
In addition, GED graduates need to attain higher scores on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) to qualify for enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces.
This discrepancy lies in the fact that research and Army statistics have demonstrated that applicants with a high school diploma have a far lower attrition rate than applicants with a GED.
The acceptance percentage of Tier 2 applicants is depending on which specific branch of service they ally to. The U.S. Air Force will accept less than 1 percent GED grads, while the U.S. Navy and Marines are accepting less than 10 percent.
Who qualifies for GED testing?
Students are eligible to sit for the GED exam if they meet three criteria:
- First, they cannot have already graduated from high school or have earned a high school equivalency diploma or certificate.
- Second, they cannot be signed up for another education program.
- Third, in most states, they are required to be 16 years old. GED applicants 16 and 17 years old, however, generally must meet additional strict requirements to qualify.
Last Updated on October 4, 2021.