What Happens If You Fail A GED Test?

Last Updated on June 19, 2024.

If you fail a GED test, you can retake that subtest as many times as needed to earn your GED diploma.

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Obviously, everyone who fails the exam has the right to feel disappointed.

And it’s okay to feel this way… for a moment. But you need to regroup and make a plan to take the test successfully as soon as possible.

You may go over our free GED classes online again and take one of our free practice tests to check your GED knowledge. If our approach appeals to you, move ahead with Onsego’s online classes and practice tests.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, says: “When you have a setback, you get back up and try again. You can invent your way to a better place.”

So, here’s the way to go:

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  • Analyze the test and figure out what parts were difficult for you.
  • Did you answer all the questions? Or did you run out of time?
  • If you failed the Math or Science subtest, did you know how to use the calculator? Or did you not use it at all?
  • What about writing the essay? Did you fail that part? Was this task easy or difficult? Did you answer the prompt? Was your essay long enough?

Think about these aspects and your weak points, then find the learning materials that can help you improve your skills.

When you feel ready, consider taking the GED Ready practice test before scheduling the real test.

Make also sure that your GED vocabulary is up to par. The GED is a timed test, and many students complain they didn’t have enough time to answer all of the questions.

A well-rounded GED vocabulary helps you understand and answer the questions correctly and quickly.

Retaking a Failed GED Test

In most states, you will receive two retests at a reduced rate. But after 12 months of your initial testing appointment, you need to have taken these retests, or the full fee is due again. See below for retake policies in your state.

Many GED students also retake a specific GED subtest to improve their scores and be more easily accepted into their preferred college more easily.

When taking the GED exam online, slightly different rules apply. First of all, you’ll have to score in the “green zone” on the GED Ready practice test, and after two failed attempts, there’ll be a 60-day wait period before you can retake that subject test. Make also sure that your time zone is correct when scheduling the GED tests!

The GED (General Educational Development) exam is a battery of four separate tests that can be taken by people who did not finish their regular high school curriculum.

The four tests cover the four main subject areas of

  • Social Studies
  • Reasoning through Language Arts
  • Science
  • Mathematical Reasoning

The diploma that’s awarded upon successful completion of these four subtests provides the same benefits as the diploma that’s earned by graduating high school students.

Retake Fees

The GED Testing Service testing fee per subtest is $26. When you have to retake a GED subtest, the $26 fee is waived, but that is limited to two retakes. Note that this does NOT count for online GED testing! You are, however, required to do the retakes within 12 months to benefit from this offer. After that period, regular fees apply again.

How Many Retakes Can You Do?

There are no restrictions when it comes to how many times you can retake a subject test. You must, however, follow the waiting period requirements that apply in your state. Read more below.

After three takes (one test and two retakes), you must pay the full testing fee again, but then, the same policy applies, so you can retake that subtest again twice without having to pay the $26 fee within one year.

Registration Process

You already have an account on the website GED.com/MyGED. You can simply log in and register for retaking one of the four modules through that same account. When you have selected the testing location and date, the price will automatically be discounted. See also this post: How does the GED work?

What Is the GED Passing Score?

To pass each one of the four GED subtests (modules), you are required to attain 145 out of 200 points. That implies that your minimally required overall score needs to be at least 580.

Averaging is no option. So you need a total GED score of at least 580 AND at least a 145 score on each subject test.

In case you fail one of the four subject tests but attain relatively high scores on the other modules, so your overall score is 580 or more, you still do not pass the GED test. You’ll be required to retake that failed subject test until you reach the passing score of 145.

Please remember that only states issue real GED certificates. They will get notified by GED Testing Service as soon as they have attained passing scores on the four GED sub-exams.

GED Score Levels

On each of the four GED modules, there are four score levels. One is the below-passing category, and there are three passing score categories.

The modules are scored on a 100 – 200 scale, and the following applies:

  1. GED Below Passing Score: 100-144 – You have not earned enough points to pass this module. The GED passing score is 145 on all four modules.
  2. GED High School Equivalency Passing Score: 145-164 – You have demonstrated that you command skills and knowledge at the high school graduation level.
  3. GED College-Ready Score: 165-174 – Your skills and knowledge show that your college readiness is fine, and you can apply to college with your GED.
  4. GED College Ready + Credit Score: 175-200 – You have shown to command knowledge and skills above average. You may even earn up to ten college credits, depending on the subject area and the school.

If you have scored in the GED below-passing range, you should take a practice test and discover what your weak points are so that you can focus on those topics.

Additionally, learn all about retaking the test and use all available educational resources so you will do better when you retake the subtest. This website offers numerous GED video lessons and practice tests at no cost at all.

Below-Passing GED Score

So when you think you are optimally prepared for the GED exam, and you have spent so many hours of lessons and practice tests, you take the four GED modules…

Only to learn that you failed a subtest. Sure, you will feel frustrated, but bear in mind that average high school students require 3 or 4 four years of instruction to get to this point, and you may have had just a limited period of time to get all set for this exam.

And realize as well that you have multiple options to improve your score. You just have to take that section again. That’s all.

Retaking Subject Tests

If you do not attain the required passing level score on the entire exam or one subject test, you have the option to retake the test or tests that are at the below-passing level.

Also, when you are simply looking to improve your GED scores, even when you’re already a proud GED graduate as you passed all four modules, you can retake the subtests as many times as you like. Just adhere to your state’s retake policies.

A few years ago, the GED organization, GED Testing Service, changed its policies regarding retakes. They now offer discounted retakes for each subtest up to two times within 12 months.

The only fees you’ll have to furnish this time include state charges and/or testing center fees. Please go to the GED.com website and check out your state’s regulations before you register for a retake. More details can be found below.

Most states allow you two retakes (so three attempts in total) within the following 12 months, but there might also be a waiting period after two attempts of sixty days.

Prepare Well

If you need to retake one of the GED subject tests, make sure you’ll become as optimally prepared as possible, and you may also consider looking again at your study plan and using different test-taking strategies, including more of this website’s free GED practice tests.

The advantage is that you can prepare specifically for only that section that you have to retake. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer face-to-face GED prep courses, though usually, those classes cover the GED exam in its entirety.

There are also some great online GED study courses that cover single-subject fields. This website provides free single-subject GED study guides at no cost at all.

GED Score Report

More help can be found on your GED score report. Here, you can find information about the fields in which you have demonstrated proficiency and in which fields you scored insufficiently. Your GED score report gives you the following information:

  • Your score report tells you whether you passed, in what score range, or that you failed that subtest.
  • In another part of your score report, you can learn what skills need your attention for improvement if you want to attain a passing score. Here, you’ll also find some personalized study strategies.
  • You may also learn from the provided score explanations. You can learn in which areas you did not perform well so you can focus on improving those topics.
  • You can also find information about how to improve your score on the GED reading/language arts module. You can look at your open-response answers and learn how to improve that for the next time you sit for that section.

So you see, when you failed one or more subtests of the GED exam on your first try, you have numerous resources to help you prepare for more success on your next try. There are discounted retakes, you can use your detailed score report, and you may benefit from some pretty good online study programs.

How Many Questions Must Be Correct to Pass?

As said before, on each GED subtest, you must attain a scaled score of no less than 145 out of 200 to pass that module. It is not so simple to translate that to the number of questions that you have to answer correctly.

Roughly speaking, it will translate to that you’ll need to have over 60-65% of correct answers, but to give an answer isn’t quite that simple. So it might help if you would take what you feel is the easiest GED subtest first. This way, you’ll get used to the testing format, and your confidence may get a boost.

First of all, the number of questions that you’ll see on a subtest may vary from test to test. If you take the GED Social Studies test, for example, one day, you’ll have to answer 36 questions, while on another day, the number of questions could be 38. What will not change, though, is the number of points that can be earned on each GED subtest.

This is because not all questions will result in the same points. All answers on the subtest are worth 1 raw point, but there are questions that have more than just one answer.

A multiple-choice question that has just one correct answer will give you one point, but another question might ask you to select multiple correct answers. In such a case, each of the answers is worth 1 point. If, for example, one single question has two correct answers, the question is worth 2 points.

Raw Points Available

Let’s take a look at the number of raw points to be earned on each of the four GED modules:

  • Reasoning Through Language Arts – Number of Raw Points Available: 65
  • Mathematical Reasoning – Number of Raw Points Available: 49
  • Science – Number of Raw Points Available: 40
  • Social Studies – Number of Raw Points Available: 30

For Social Studies and Mathematical Reasoning, the points are the same as the number of answers in that subtest. This also applies to the Science subtest except for that section’s two short answer questions. These are worth maximally three points each, and here, partial credit is also possible. So you might attain a score of 1, 2, or 3 points on these short answer questions.

The Reasoning through Language Arts module is different since it includes writing your essay, which is scored in a different way than the rest of this test. Your essay is worth 20 percent of the entire score for the Language Arts subtest. That implies that your essay is worth around 13 points, while the other Language Arts questions are good for around 52 points.

How GED Testing Service handles this conversion from raw points to a scaled score (from 100 to 200 on each subtest) remains somewhat unclear. GED Testing Service isn’t clear about how exactly they do the magic.

What is clear, though, is that to pass each of the four subtests with a 145 score, you are required to get some 60-65 percent of the available points on each module. This also means that you need to answer at least 60-65 percent of all questions correctly.

What Are the Retake Policies?

In most states, you are allowed to retake a GED subtest without some waiting time between your attempts. That implies that if you want, you’ll be able to retake a GED module within a few days after your first attempt.

Generally, you can retake a subtest twice so that you have three testing attempts overall without having to respect a waiting period.

In most states, when you’ve tried to pass a subtest three times, there’ll be a waiting period of 60 days before you’re allowed to take that section again. This policy applies in the following states and territories:

  • Wyoming
  • Wisconsin
  • Vermont
  • Utah
  • South Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Oregon
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • New Mexico
  • New Jersey
  • Mississippi
  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Kentucky
  • Kansas
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Florida
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Arkansas
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Alabama
  • Virgin Islands
  • Bermuda


The following states and jurisdictions use a slightly different policy when it comes to retesting:

Connecticut – Here, test-takers need to complete all 4 GED subtests before they are allowed to retake any of the subtests. They can only retake a subtest three times per year, and after each retake, there is a waiting time of 60 days.

Maryland – In Maryland, test-takers can only take three retests per year.

Nebraska – In Nebraska, students must respect a 30-day waiting time before they can retake a subtest. Students who have failed three times must wait for at least 60 days before they can retake that module.

Nevada – In Nevada, test-takers need to wait for a 60-day period when they have tried to pass a GED subtest three times. They must also take all of the four GED subtests before they are allowed to retake any subtests.

North Dakota – In North Dakota, a 3-day waiting time applies when you want to retake a GED subtest, and this also applies when you want to schedule a second attempt. After three attempts, a 60-day waiting time applies.

Virginia – GED test-takers in Virginia have to wait for 60 days after their third attempt. Additionally, after each third attempt, they’ll have to wait 60 days before they can retake a subtest.

Washington – In Washington, test-takers also need to respect a 60-day waiting period after the third attempt. Like in Virginia, they must wait 60 days after each 3rd attempt before they’re allowed to retake that section.

District of Columbia – In Washington, DC, there’ll be a 30-day waiting time between the first and second attempts. Thereafter, a 60-day waiting time applies.

American Samoa – In American Samoa, there is a 30-day waiting time after a test-taker fails a GED subtest. When they have failed that section three times, there’ll be a 60-day waiting time before they can take it again. Test-takers must first complete the entire GED battery before they can retake a subtest.

Guam – In Guam, a 10-day waiting period applies after the first attempt. When test-takers have failed three times, they are required to respect a waiting time of 60 days before they retake that section.

Northern Mariana Islands – In the Northern Mariana Islands, a 90-day waiting time applies after the first attempt. If a third attempt is required, there’ll be no waiting time, but if that attempt also wasn’t successful, there’ll be a 60-day waiting time before students are allowed to retake that subtest for the fourth time.