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The Definitive Practice Test Guide for the GED Test
- About the GED
- Sections of the GED Test
- What to Expect on Test Day
- Best Ways to Study for the GED
- GED Tips and Tricks
- GED FAQ:
About the GED
The General Education Development test, or GED, is an alternative way to demonstrate high school proficiency. Taking the GEDTest can be a stepping stone for furthering education or expanding one’s employment opportunities.
The GED was first developed in 1942 by the American Council on Education and Pearson Testing Services. The exam itself has gone through many changes since its inception. The current version of the GED consists of four sections: Mathematical Reasoning, Reasoning through the Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.
It is a computer-based exam with multiple question formats, including multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop questions, short answer, essay, and those with a pull-down menu, among others.
Sections of the GED Test
The entire Mathematical Reasoning portion of the GED Test is timed for a total of 115 minutes and is made up of one single testing period. Questions in this section will be in one of four formats: multiple choice, drag-and-drop, hot spot, or fill-in-the-blank.
For the first five questions, which are not timed separately, you may not use a calculator. They must be submitted before you answer the remaining math questions. The following 41 questions do permit the use of a calculator and must be completed during the remaining time of the Mathematical Reasoning testing period.
You will have access to an online calculator for items that require one or you may bring your own handheld TI-30XS multiview scientific calculator, since most testing centers do not furnish handheld calculators. You will also have access to a page of formulas during the GED Mathematical Reasoning Test.
Questions in this section are drawn from the mathematical areas of quantitative and algebraic problem solving. Content may come from academic or workforce situations. You will need to draw on mathematical knowledge as well as have the ability to apply this knowledge to solve problems.
Reasoning Through Language Arts
This section of the GED Test is timed for 150 minutes as follows:
- Section 1: 35 minutes of content questions
- Section 2: 45 minutes for the Extended Response portion (essay)
- Break: 10 minutes
- Section 3: 60 minutes of content questions
In two parts of the Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) section of the GED Test, you will be asked questions about passages that are between 450 and 900 words long. These passages vary in difficulty and questions about them vary in type. You may be asked to recall stated facts or to make inferences from the material written. Additionally, there will be questions about the author’s use of words and use of standard written English, including grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and usage. You can practice these skills by taking our practice test now.
The third part of the Reasoning Through Language Arts section of the GED Test will require you to write an extended response, or essay. Suggestions for practicing for the essay portion, as well as the other parts of the RLA section of the GED Test, can be found in our Reasoning Through Language Arts Study Guide.
This part of the GED Test is timed in one section for 90 minutes. Most of the questions are multiple choice, hot spot, drag-and-drop, or fill-in-the-blank. There were previously two short answer questions in this section, but these were discontinued in 2018. The time limit remains the same and it is up to you to watch the clock provided and conserve adequate time to answer all the questions.
Questions in the Science section of the GED Test concern three main topics:
Earth and Space Science
All questions also fall within two general themes:
Human Health and Living Systems
Energy and Related Systems
About half of the Science questions refer to a passage or graphic given with the question. The other half of the questions are stand-alone items about the topics and themes.
If a Science test item requires mathematical skills, such as data analysis, you can use the online calculator provided. Alternatively, you may bring your own handheld TI-30XS multiview scientific calculator. Do not count on the testing center to supply a handheld calculator for your use.
You can practice your Science skills by trying the multiple-choice questions in our practice test. Also, check out our Science Study Guide for information on answering other question types.
The Social Studies section of the GED test is timed for 70 minutes, without a break, and contains content questions, delivered in four different question formats: multiple choice, drag-and-drop, hot spot, and fill-in-the-blank.
This section focuses on topics from four areas of study:
Civics and Government
Geography and the World
All of the questions also pertain to one of two main themes within the four areas:
Development of Modern Liberties and Democracy
Dynamic Responses in Societal Systems
About half of the questions in this section refer to a passage or graphic that accompanies the question. The other half of the questions are stand-alone items concerning one of the two themes.
Some questions require using data analysis and statistics. An online calculator will be provided for this type of item or you may bring your own handheld TI-30XS multiview scientific calculator. The testing center will probably not furnish handheld calculators.
You can practice your Social Studies skills with the multiple-choice question type here. Be sure to see our Social Studies Study Guide for more information on the other question types.
What to Expect on Test Day
Taking the GED can be incredibly nerve wracking for many individuals. However, it always helps to have a good idea of what to expect on testing day and how to best prepare to get a great score.
You can opt to take either the full GED in one sitting or break it up so that you do each section on individual days. If you take the exam all at once, you will be at the testing site for a full day since the exam itself takes over seven hours, plus breaks. Either way, you will want to eat a nutritious meal before arriving to take the test (or test section) to ensure that you are able to focus on the test itself. If it turns out to be an all-day event, don’t forget to have a plan for lunch, too. Getting a good night’s sleep before taking the test is also important to improve your performance.
You will want to arrive early to ensure you have enough time to find the right location and register. You’ll need to arrive at least 15 minutes early; if you arrive late, you may be required to take the test another day and forfeit any fees you have already paid.
What to Bring
You are required to bring a valid, legal identification, such as a passport, driver’s license, military ID, or state identification card. You may also bring a scientific calculator, which is permitted when taking the Mathematical Reasoning, Social Studies, and Science tests. If you did not pay your testing fees during online registration, you will also need to bring them with you on the day of your exam. Fees vary across the states, so you should verify the cost beforehand to ensure that you bring the correct amount.
What Not to Bring
Cell phones and other electronics are prohibited while taking the exam. There may be space outside of the testing room for personal items and last minute studying material, however, this varies depending upon the testing center. You should check with your testing location beforehand or plan to leave these items in your vehicle while taking the test.
Best Ways to Study for the GED
Take GED Practice Tests
Taking the GED is a huge milestone in many people’s lives, and preparing for it can take months. One of the best ways to ensure you are ready to take the exam on the testing day is by completing GED practice tests in the period leading up to the test. GED practice tests can give you an idea of what to expect on your actual testing date, and they can help you identify which subjects you need to focus on while studying. Additionally, these practice tests can help you to become more comfortable with the types of questions you are likely to encounter.
Use Alternative Study Methods
In addition to GED practice tests, you can enhance your preparation by using alternative study materials, such as flashcards and study guides for the GED. Many test-takers find that by varying the types of material they use to study, they can improve their retention of information and boost their test score.
Simulate the Testing Experience
Simulating the actual testing experience is another key strategy that can help you to prepare for the GED. This process is especially important if you plan to take the entire exam in one day. Simulating the test gives you an idea of how you will perform in each of the timed sections. It will also help you to identify how long you can test in one sitting before you begin to experience mental fatigue. This type of simulation can help you plan your testing days in a way that ensures your best performance.
GED Tips and Tricks
Use Quality Study Material
There is a ton of GED test prep material online. However, it doesn’t matter how much studying you do if you aren’t studying the right material. Before selecting any study aids, it’s important that you ensure you are using a reputable company that publishes high-quality testing material. The GED Testing Service offers official GED practice tests that can help give you a sense of the difficulty level and subject matter you’ll be expected to know on test day.
If You Don’t Know the Answer, Guess
The GED does not penalize you for guessing, which means that you should produce an answer for every question, even if you aren’t sure of its accuracy. You may be able to narrow down your selections by eliminating obviously wrong answers, but if you still don’t know the correct one, take a guess anyway.
Watch Your Time
The GED is a timed test, and you only have a certain amount of time for each section. To complete the entire exam, you will have to pace yourself. It’s also a good idea to answer the items you know first, then come back to the harder ones. This process helps you to allocate your time better and ensure you aren’t rushing to finish in the final minutes.
1. How much does it cost to take the GED?
The cost of taking the GED varies depending on your location and if you choose to take the exam at a testing center or at home with a proctor. If you choose to take the exam at a testing center, the price ranges from $30-40 per subject. If you take the exam online at home it’s slightly more expensive, ranging from $36-46 per subject. Be sure to contact the GED testing center in your area to get the most accurate and up-to-date information.
2. What is a good score?
Each section of the GED is scored between 100 and 200. A score of 145 is considered passing and will earn you the GED credential. A score of 165-174 earns you a College Ready GED credential, and a score above 175 will earn you a College Ready + Credit GED credential, which may be eligible for up to 10 hours of college credit.
3. When will I receive my results?
You will likely receive your GED score quickly after taking the test. Results are available between three and 24 hours after you have completed the exam. Your results can be accessed through the online GED portal.
4. Can I retake the test?
Yes. If you don’t pass or want to achieve a better score, you can opt to retake all or part of the GED. You are allowed two retakes with no time restriction between them. After your third sitting for the exam, you must wait at least 60 days before taking it again.
5. Do colleges accept a GED?
Yes, most colleges and universities in the United States do accept the GED as equivalent to a high school diploma. The GED is recognized as a valid credential for admissions by many postsecondary institutions and employers. However, admissions policies can vary significantly from one institution to another, so it’s always a good idea to reach out to the specific institutions you’re interested in to confirm their policies regarding the GED.