Is A GED Worth Getting?

Last Updated on May 16, 2024.

Individuals who don’t hold a conventional high school diploma have the option to earn a high school equivalency credential if they pass the four subtests of the GED exam.

It is definitely worth getting your GED as the credential has the same value as a high school diploma.

It is accepted as such by practically all governmental bodies, employers, and institutions of higher education.

But what exactly is a GED credential? What does GED mean? What is the value of a GED? Well, in North America, the GED diploma can substitute for a common high school diploma.

For most entry-level jobs and to get into college, you generally are required to hold a high school or equivalent diploma.

So if, for whatever reason, you could not complete high school, it’s a good idea, or even necessary, to earn your GED credential to make sure you qualify for a decently-paying job or education in a post-secondary school.

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The GED (General Educational Development) exam allows people to demonstrate that they command knowledge and skills at a level comparable to that of high school graduates.

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How is a GED Different from a Common High School Diploma?

There are some employers and colleges and universities that favor high school graduates over persons with a GED.

There are still some stigmas associated with the GED credential. One of these relates to the fact that GED holders merely took a set of four individual tests. But the fact of the matter is that a GED doesn’t limit opportunities. On the contrary, it expands them.

If we would remove the barriers to getting a GED, highly talented youth can also take the GED to pursue a college education at a young age, these stigmas would disappear rapidly.

Holding a GED may still be seen as an indication of your lack of academic perseverance when compared to those who completed their regular high school curriculum, but the current GED is definitely a true equivalent of a high school credential.

However, the fully computer-based latest edition of the GED exam measures knowledge and skills at such a level that 40 percent of high school grads would not be able to pass the exam on the first try.

Among the employers that make a distinction between GED holders and high school graduates are the departments of the U.S. armed forces. The Air Force, for example, allows only up to 1% of recruits to be GED holders.

Students who are under the age of 20 still have the option to go back to high school and finish their regular high school curriculum. This is a good option for younger students who quit school, but keep in mind that GED policies may vary across states.

Four GED Subtests

The four independent GED subtests (modules) assess skills and knowledge in the four subject fields of core high school content areas:

  • Math (Mathematical Reasoning)
  • Literacy (Reasoning through Language Arts)
  • Science
  • Social Studies

The latest edition of the GED exam was instituted in January 2014, and a test-taker’s writing skills are measured all through the exam as opposed to in a separate test, as was the case before.

The latest GED exam version requires students to command more advanced analytical and reasoning skills and a deeper and broader understanding of the presented material.

Students who successfully take the four GED modules will receive a GED credential (depending on the state, this could be a certificate or a diploma). The GED diploma technically has the same validity as a common high school diploma.

Is a GED Worth Getting?

You may wonder whether it’s worth getting a GED. Maybe there are other options. Well, in the first place, holding a GED in comparison to having no secondary education diploma at all is perfectly fine.

You will have access to many more job opportunities, and you will be able to get on with your education. But keep in mind that if you’re young enough, you may also go back to high school.

As said earlier, holding a GED could make you look somewhat less qualified to some colleges or universities and some employers. So again, if you have the opportunity to go back to high school, please give that option some well-thought-out consideration.

So a GED is definitely worth getting as, just like a high school diploma, it makes you qualified for most entry-level jobs, and the GED credential qualifies you for practically all colleges and universities.

So keep in mind that it is better to hold a GED diploma than no high school diploma at all. The fact of the matter is that the changes made to the GED exam have made it more rigorous, which has caused many employers and schools to view the GED differently than before.

GED Qualification Requirements

GED qualification requirements vary slightly by state, but in most states, applicants need to be at least 16 years of age to be eligible for GED testing, and they cannot be signed up for another educational program.

Applicants additionally meet their state’s eligibility requirements with regard to how long they must have been officially withdrawn from high school. There are states that require GED test-takers to have been out of school for 60 consecutive days or more before they’re allowed to sit for the exam.

GED Scoring System

To earn a GED high school equivalency credential, applicants are required to pass all four subtests of the GED battery. The GED results are measured on a 100-200 scale, and the passing score on each of the four modules is 145.

Averaging is not possible, so attaining this passing score (145) on EACH of the subtests is required. This means the overall minimum score needs to be 580 or more. So if a student has an overall score of over 580 but did not attain a 145 score on one of the modules, s/he has NOT passed the GED exam.

The four GED subtests have calibrated the testing performance levels as follows:

  • 100 – 144: GED Below Passing Score
  • 145 – 164: GED High School Equivalency Score
  • 165 – 174: GED College-Ready Score
  • 175 – 200: GED College-Ready Plus College Credit Score

Modular GED Exam

The four GED subtests will take just over seven hours to complete, but the exam is modular, meaning the subtests can be taken individually. There’s no need to take it all in a row or within a certain time frame.

The four modules are administered by computer only. Most questions on the GED exam are still multiple-choice, though the latest edition also contains draggable, fill-in-the-blank, and essay-style questions on the Literacy and Science portions of the exam.

Some states require GED test-takers to first attend a prep course and/or attain sufficient scores on the GED Ready practice tests. There are also states that require test-takers to additionally take and pass a Constitution and/or Civics test.


Students who don’t pass a subject test the first time around can retake that section, and also those who want to improve their scores can retake the subtests as often as they wish.

Keep in mind, though, that different states may have different retesting requirements, such as proof of attending a prep course or additional fees.

To be able to take one or more of the GED subtests, students need to go to the website and set up an account at MyGED. For students with disabilities, testing accommodations will be provided, but timely requests are needed through the MyGED account.

Students are only required to pay for the subtest(s) they register for, and the costs vary by state. This website includes pages where you can find the testing costs in their individual states.

Will a GED Get You into College?

There are so many things that you can do with a GED! The GED diploma is equivalent to a standard high school degree, and more than 97 percent of all North American universities and colleges accept the GED in the same way as a common high school diploma.

Keep in mind, though, that in the same way as high school grads, you must also meet other admission requirements. GED graduates must meet the schools’ specific admissions criteria in the same way as incoming high school students must do. Read also this article about how Amazon offers GED support and free college tuition in Michigan to help its employees further their career options.

Many colleges and universities require incoming students to submit their SAT or ACT results, and a good GPA is often also required. This may be somewhat problematic for GED graduates, but schools have a pretty good way to compare GED scores to GPA.

The GED exam doesn’t prepare students for long-term projects or more in-depth assignments, so many GED graduates start out on their further academic path at a community college or technical school to transition later to a four-year college after a few years.

This will also help them develop and acquire the study skills they will need for success in college. Financial aid is available for GED holders in the same way as it is for high school graduates.