Let’s face it—adulthood is more complicated now than it has ever been. With the technological, economical, and societal landscapes changing right before our eyes, it’s no surprise that so many adults are seeking out additional education.
For those who never graduated from high school, the GED test can open up new occupational and academic opportunities amidst the shifting scene.
What is the GED?
The GED is a nationwide exam designed to determine high school equivalency as well as college and career readiness.
Depending on your high school experience or how long it’s been since you attended high school, you may feel that getting your GED diploma is a daunting proposition. Thankfully, there are plenty of expert tutors out there that can guide you on the path to that diploma.
As you enter that first tutoring lesson, you may be wondering what to expect as you embark on the preparation experience.
1. Understand the purpose of the GED
What does GED stand for? Originally, the term was short for the Tests of General Educational Development, but since 2011 the company has just used the term GED.
As the most recognizable of the high school equivalency tests, the GED is used in 40 of the 50 states, although some of those states also accept the TASC™ (Test Assessing Secondary Completion) and/or the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test). Three states use only the TASC™ (Indiana, New York, and West Virginia), while seven states use only the HiSET (Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, and Tennessee).
The GED includes the reading, writing, thinking, and problem-solving skills needed for postsecondary programs and for the workplace. This means that your high school equivalency diploma is not an end in itself—it’s the springboard to more education, to better-paying jobs, and to more rewarding career paths.
2. Gain an overview of the GED as a whole
Each subject exam tests a student’s knowledge of topics covered in a typical high school classroom, from history and government to life science and algebra.
Overall, the GED has a length of more than 7 hours, but you don’t have to take all four subject tests on the same day. In fact, it’s better to prepare for each subject test individually and then take them separately.
During that preparation process, you’ll become familiar with all the question types in the GED:
- Multiple-choice: Click to choose from four choices (A through D).
- Fill-in-the-blank: Type a word, a phrase, or numbers in a box.
- Drag-and-drop: Move words, numbers, or objects across the computer screen.
- Drop-down: Select from menus embedded in text on the computer screen.
- Select-an-area: Click on graphics on the computer screen.
- Short-answer: Write a paragraph or two of explanation in response to passages and/or graphics.
- Extended response: Compose a well-developed and supported response to two passages.
Of course, you want to how to take the GED, and you may even be asking about how to get your GED online. Unfortunately, online testing is not currently an option according to the GED Testing Service: “The GED test must be taken at a physical test center on a computer, where there is a proctor on site to monitor all test takers and ensure all protocol is followed.”
The GED test must be taken at a physical test center on a computer, where there is a proctor on site to monitor all test takers and ensure all protocol is followed.
3. Become acquainted with the nature of the four subject tests
The official titles for the four GED subjects are Mathematical Reasoning, Reasoning through Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. While the tests utilize most of the same question styles, each one has its own unique combination of content covered, format presented, and time allotted.
- Elementary math
- Basic algebra
- Graphs and functions
- Two parts, one break
- 5 questions with no calculator: 20 mins
- Short break
- 35-40 questions with the official GED calculator: 95 mins
Total test time: 1 hr, 55mins
Reasoning through Language Arts
- Reading for meaning
- Identifying and creating arguments
- Grammar and language
- Three sections, one break
- About 20 questions in 30 mins
- Written essay (extended response comparison of two passages); maximum 45 mins
- 10-min break
- 30-35 questions in 65 mins
Total test time: 2 hrs, 30 mins
- Reading for meaning in social studies
- Analyzing historical events and arguments
- Using numbers and graphs in social studies
- 30-35 questions in 70 mins (no breaks)
Total test time: 1 hr, 10 mins
- Reading for meaning in science
- Designing and interpreting science experiments
- Using numbers and graphics in science
- 30-35 questions in 90 mins (no breaks), including two short-answer written responses to passages and/or graphics (up to 10 mins for each)
Total test time: 1 hr, 30 mins
4. Learn about the content and format of each subject test
Once you have a big-picture perspective of the four subject tests, you’ll want to spend time going over the GED requirements for each exam.
Except for the first five questions, a calculator is permitted on the GED math test. However, only one calculator model is permitted: the TI-30XS. It’s recommended that you purchase one so you can practice with it, but even if you don’t have one of your own, a virtual version will be available on the computer when you take the test.
In addition, you will have access to a calculator reference sheet and a math formula sheet. Instead of scratch paper, you will be provided with a hand-held whiteboard and dry-erase marker, which you can make use of throughout the test: don’t hesitate to ask for a new one if you feel that you need it.
The Mathematical Reasoning Test covers two broad categories of material using multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and drop-down question types:
- 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): included expressions, polynomials, equations, inequalities, linear equations, quadratic equations, and patterns and functions.
Reasoning through Language Arts
This GED subject test consists of questions (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and drop-down) on English and reading comprehension and an essay testing your rhetorical and composition skills:
- Reading Content: Approximately three-fourths of the questions are based on informational texts, which include workplace- and community-based documents, general nonfiction, and nonfiction related to general-interest social studies and science topics. The other fourth of the test is based upon fiction selections.
- Language Content: The language skills required for the test model real-life editing that ensures correct grammar, sentence structure, capitalization, punctuation, and word choice.
- Extended Response: The essay requires that you read two passages and then respond to a writing prompt by developing and supporting your ideas with evidence from the text.
The extended response is an evidence-based writing task, meaning that you need to base your position on the information and arguments in the reading materials. Your submitted essay will be assigned a score from 0-2 in three “traits”: Creation of Arguments and use of Evidence; Development of Ideas and Organizational Structure; and Clarity and Command of Standard English Conventions.
The GED Social Studies test covers material from Civics and Government (50% of the content), U.S. History (20%), Economics (15%), and Geography and the World (15%).
Questions in the exam are primarily based on your understanding of Social Studies Practices:
- Determining central ideas, inferences, hypotheses, and conclusions
- Analyzing words, events, and ideas in social studies contexts
- Analyzing author’s purpose and point of view
- Evaluating author’s reasoning and evidence
- Analyzing and integrating relationships within and between social studies materials
- Interpreting data and statistics in graphs and charts
- Finding the center (mean, median, and mode) in a statistical data set
Because the test includes data and infographics, you will be permitted to use a calculator and be given access to the calculator reference sheet. All questions in the Social Studies test are multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and drop-down.
Covering material from Life Science (40% of the content), Earth and Space Science (20%), and Physical Science (40%), the Science test consists of questions that are primarily based on your understanding of Science Practices:
- Comprehending scientific presentations to interpret passages and graphics
- Using the scientific method to design investigations, reason from data, and work with findings
- Reasoning with scientific information to evaluate conclusions with evidence
- Applying concepts and formulas to express scientific information and apply scientific theories
- Using probabilities and statistics in a science context
You may use a calculator on the GED Science test, so you will have access to the calculator reference sheet. While most of the questions are the usual styles (multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and drop-down), there are also two short-answer questions where you will type in a text box to write a summary, create an experiment design, or explain how evidence supports a hypothesis or conclusion.
An effective response should not be based on your opinions or personal experiences, but rather will use specific information from the source materials to answer the questions. Each short-answer response is worth up to 3 points, so take the time to understand the question plan your response, and choose several facts from the information to back up your position.
5. Set personal goals based on test score requirements
The number of points you earn is translated into a scaled score ranging from 100-200 for each subject test. Knowing what opportunities each score tier offers will give you something to shoot for as you enter the test prep process.
145: GED Passing Score
To earn your high school equivalency, you’ll need to score 145 or higher on all four subjects. If you score below 145 on any of the subject tests, you’ll have to retake all four tests regardless of how you performed on the others.
165–174: GED College Ready
Scoring above 165 (on any test subject) means you have demonstrated you are ready to take college level courses. If you ever choose to enroll in college, you may qualify for waivers from placement testing or developmental education requirements.
175–200: GED College Ready + Credit
Scoring above 175 (on any test subject) means you have demonstrated skills that could qualify for up to 10 college credit hours.
6. Lay out a plan for test preparation
You’ll need two more things to really get rolling on the test prep process: a calculator and some form of GED prep materials.Remember that the TI-30XS is the official calculator for the test, and obtaining one of your own will enable you to get comfortable with its many functions. As for prep materials, look for books that have practice tests, as those will offer you the most effective training. Some companies also have personalized GED 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, tutors can guide your GED classes just as effectively as they could if they were right next to you.
- Register for the GED tests when you feel you’re readyAfter your first session with a GED tutor, you should sign up for MyGED, a personalized online program that will be your entry point to all test activities, including scheduling tests, viewing score reports, ordering transcripts, and obtaining your diploma.
As a final step before scheduling any actual GED tests, you should 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.
When is the GED?
To find a test center and a date to take the GED, you’ll have to explore the available options on the official scheduling website. Registration costs vary from state to state, with the most common fee 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 the COVID-19 restrictions.
While everyone’s test preparation varies in duration, just eight hours of tutoring can give you a significant advantage. Reach out to an experienced GED tutor today to get started on your journey to greater educational and occupational opportunities.