What's On The GED Math Test

What’s On the GED Math Test?

If you have ever contemplated the notion of getting your GED, chances are you’re already apprehensive about the Mathematical Reasoning test. That’s nothing to be ashamed of—in fact, it’s totally normal. Regardless of which standardized test people take, math is the subject area that stands above all others when it comes to the level of confusion, frustration, and anxiety.

At this point, you have already done a little research, so you understand how to get your GED.


More than with any of the other three sections, prepping for the GED Math test essentially demands the guidance of a tutor. Not only do you have to recognize your own math anxiety, but you must also deal with the fact that time has passed by and your skills have been diminished. When you see all the types of math on the GED, the task of preparing for the test may seem overwhelming. Well, now is the time to secure a tutor who can provide you with a complete breakdown of the Math section and guide you through the entire preparation process for taking and passing the test.

Preliminary Steps: Obtaining the Proper Materials and Securing a Tutor

If you haven’t done so already, you’ll want to sign up for your personalized MyGED online program so you can schedule tests, view score reports, order transcripts, and obtain your diploma. Once that’s taken care of, you will be ready to drill down on the GED sections one-by-one, starting with the Mathematical Reasoning test.

You’ll need two more things to really get going on the test prep process: a calculator and some form of GED study materials. Only one model of calculator is permitted in the math section: the TI-30XS MultiView. In order to have enough time to get comfortable with its many functions, you should obtain one as soon as possible. As for GED prep materials, look for books that have practice tests, as those will offer you the most effective training. Some companies also have personalized GED Math courses and additional practice material online.

Although the GED itself cannot be administered remotely, your tutoring can take place online. Thanks to the development of powerful online learning platforms, test prep tutors can guide your lessons just as effectively as they could if they were right next to you. The help and direction of an experienced online tutor is critical to your success, and there’s no shame in recognizing that preparing for the test is not something you can handle alone. Beginning with just your first tutoring session, you’ll begin to get a handle on what math is on the GED and how to study for the GED Math test.

Format: GED Test Structure and Question Types

Before you dive into content, your tutor will go over the format of the GED Mathematical Reasoning test. You will have 115 minutes to complete 45-49 questions, with one short break built in. The first five questions must be completed without the use of a calculator, but don’t worry—you’ll have 20 minutes to work on them. After those first five questions, a calculator is permitted on the rest of the GED Math test. However, only one calculator model is permitted: the TI-30XS MultiView.

The GED is a computer-based test, so you don’t need to bring any supplies to the testing facility. You will be provided with a math formula sheet and a calculator reference sheet, as well as a hand-held whiteboard and dry-erase marker in lieu of scratch paper. Once you get into the calculator-allowed portion of the test, a virtual version of the official calculator will be available on the computer. Nevertheless, your tutor will surely recommend that you purchase your own calculator so that you can get accustomed to its many features.

As your preparation process continues, you’ll become acquainted with all the question types in the GED Math test, as well as how to choose the right strategy for each one.

  • Multiple-choice: Click to choose from one of four choices (A through D).
  • Fill-in-the-blank: Type a word, a phrase, or numbers in a box. No answer choices to pick from here—you have to come up with one yourself.
  • Drag-and-drop: Move numbers, symbols, or expressions across the computer screen. Examples of this type include choosing the correct elements for an equation and correctly ordering values on a number line.
  • Drop-down: Select from menus embedded in text on the computer screen. This is often used when determining whether one value is greater than, less than, or equal to another value.
  • Select-an-area: Click on graphics on the computer screen. For example, clicking on a graph to place ordered pairs at the proper coordinates.

Content: Quantitative and Algebraic Reasoning

What kind of math is on the GED? Essentially, the Mathematical Reasoning Test covers two broad categories of material:

  • Quantitative Reasoning (roughly 45% of the test): includes problems with positive and negative whole numbers, decimals and fractions; ratios, proportions, and percents; data and statistics; and geometric measurement.
  • Algebraic Reasoning (roughly 55% of the test): includes expressions, polynomials, equations, inequalities, linear equations, quadratic equations, and patterns and functions.

If you’re wondering how all this matches up with what you may have been taught in high school, it’s safe to say that you’ll need to be familiar with concepts up through Algebra 2. The Quantitative Math and Algebra on the test corresponds mostly to material from courses you probably took from 7th to 11th grade: basic math, geometry, basic algebra, and graphs and functions.

Of course, you’ll also be confronted with word problems—sorry, but it’s true. If you are like most students who have struggled with math, you have a justifiable fear of such problems. That’s not your fault, though: due to the burden of state educational objectives, math teachers often lack the time to teach the conceptual reasoning necessary for solving such problems. Well, this is where you really need to lean on your tutor for guidance. With attention to the various question types and the allotted time, an experienced tutor will be able to show you how to read, assess, and solve those troublesome word problems.

Calculator Use: Key Features and Test-Taking Strategies

A significant part of your GED math prep will be familiarizing yourself with the functions of the official GED calculator. While it’s not one of those super-powered graphing calculators you may have had access to in high school, it still has plenty of features that will make your test experience less stressful:

Fraction-to-decimal conversion

This is a godsend for anyone who has difficulty with fractions because the calculator does the work for you. The TI-30XS has a key that automatically converts decimals to fractions, and vice versa.

Fraction bar and mixed number format

This feature permits you to enter fractions and mixed numbers into the calculator exactly the same way they appear on the test, using a horizontal fraction bar.

Natural “mathprint”

When you enter expressions into the TI-XS, they appear just as they they’re written in the questions. The exponents are superscripted, the radical signs extend over whatever you’re taking a root of, and juxtaposing numbers next to parenthetical expressions is interpreted to mean the application of multiplication.

Continuous entry

This calculator lets you type in all the mathematical operations at once, so there’s no need to do calculations in stages. In case you were wondering—yes, the TI-XS follows the order of operations.

Remember, you are permitted to use the TI-30XS MultiView for close to 90% of the question—so don’t hesitate to use it! Skilled GED Math tutors will emphasize the calculator’s value in two powerful test-taking strategies:

Plugging in the Answers (PITA): When a multiple-choice question presents you with an equation and lists possible numerical answers, that’s when you want to apply the PITA strategy. Your calculator streamlines this process through the STO feature: you can store a number as a variable, then type in the algebraic expression from the question exactly as it’s written on the test. For example, suppose you are to find one of the solutions to the equation x2+10x+24=0, and the choices are –4, –2, 4, and 12. You could store each of the answer choices as the variable x, then enter x2+10x+24, and the calculator would take care of the substitution for you. Whichever answer choice produced a value of 0 would be the correct one. The big advantage of PITA is that it prevents careless mistakes when plugging negative numbers into polynomial expressions.

Plugging in Numbers (PIN): While PIN is not as well-known a strategy as PITA, it’s actually the more versatile method. The difference between the two strategies is that PIN is used with expressions rather than equations. When a problem asks for the simplified form of an expression, that’s when you pick a number to plug into the original expression. Using the calculator, you can store that number as a variable, then enter both the original expression and the four answer choices into the calculator just as they’re written. If only one answer choice produces the same value as the original expression, then you have solved it! If more than one answer matches the output of the given expression, that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong: it’s possible for more than one expression to produce the same output for only one input value. When that happens, just choose another number and repeat the process until you have isolated the correct answer choice.

Final steps: Taking GED and Getting Your Scores

Once you have studied for a while under the direction of an expert tutor, you may naturally ask, “Should I take a GED Math practice test?” Yes, you certainly should! The final step in your preparation should be to take the GED Ready Official Practice Tests, which are available through the MyGED portal. If you get 75% or more questions correct on a GED practice test, you are highly likely to pass the actual GED subject test. Go over those results with your tutor to make the final determination on whether you are ready to take the GED Mathematical Reasoning test.

To find a test center nearby, you can search directly from your MyGED account. Once you know which GED testing location works best, you can explore the available dates on the website for that particular facility. Registration costs vary from state to state, with the most common GED test costs being $30 per subject test ($120 total). Make sure you check for updates to GED test dates, as certain test centers may not be open due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The number of points you earn is translated into a scaled score ranging from 100-200 for each subject test. Understanding the different tiers of passing GED math scores will give you something to shoot for as you go through the test prep process.

What are the Requirements for a GED?

That all depends on what your goal is. To earn your high school equivalency, you’ll need to get a score of 145 or higher on all four subjects. If you get a GED math score below 145, you’ll have to retake all four tests regardless of how you perform on the others. A score of 165-174 is considered GED College Ready: if you ever choose to enroll in college, you may qualify for waivers from placement testing or developmental education requirements. A score of 175-200 qualifies as GED College Ready + Credit, meaning you have demonstrated skills that could earn you up to 10 college credit hours.

Once you have passed your GED Math test, you can turn your attention to the Social Studies, Science, and Reasoning Through Language Arts tests. You’ll be ahead of the game by that point, though: not only will you be familiar with both the preparation process and testing experience, but you’ll also have a reliable tutor already in place. Few people are built for self-guided learning, so it’s natural to feel directionless as you begin the path toward obtaining your GED. Reach out to an experienced tutor today to get the GED help you need to complete your journey to greater educational and occupational opportunities.

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