What does it take to earn a GED?

What is A GED?

The initials GED stand for General Educational Development, which is an alternate way to receive a diploma, equivalent to that of high school, for nontraditional students who don’t obtain a high school diploma.  It was first developed in World War II to give veterans a quick way to receive the qualifications to be able to go on to college, but was later available for all adults and adolescents older than 16.  The GED measures skills and knowledge that one would gain from four years of high school, in addition to life experiences, and critical thinking about a variety of issues including, but not limited to, television, radio and consumer products. 

What Work is Expected When Attaining A GED

Once you decide that you want to go through the process of obtaining your GED, you may want to know what to expect from the GED test. The test is created so that even if you have been out of school for a long period of time, you would have no disadvantage.  As long as you have a 9th grade reading level or higher, can read and understand newspapers and forms, can subtract, add, divide and multiply without a calculator, and can read and think critically, you will be able to take the GED.  Like any test, studying is the key to success – and with a variety of topics, it’s important to be aware of what you will be tested on.  There are 5 different subject tests within the GED – Language Arts: Writing, Social Studies, Science, Language Arts: Reading, and Mathematics.

Language Arts: Writing – The writing portion of the GED is a two-part exam.  Part one of the exam focuses on the test taker’s ability to correct grammar, spelling and compose sentences correctly.  The second part is a 250-word writing prompt based on a topic that most adults would have some sort of knowledge about.

Social Studies – In the Social Studies exam, a variety of topics such as World History, Government, Geography and Economics will be tested.  The test taker will have to be able to look at and interpret maps, political cartoons, speeches and documents, and have some knowledge about important documents such as the Declaration of Independence, and different Supreme Court landmark court cases.  Questions are not limited to the above topics, so being aware of different events, documents, and people will be very beneficial.

Science – Using critical thinking and reading skills, you will have to be able to answer many questions about the broad topic of science.  The GED covers physical science, life science, and earth and space science.

Language Arts: Reading – In this section you will have to read essays, stories, reviews, or scenes from plays, depending on what is on the exam that day.  You may be asked to summarize the readings, compare and contrast, or apply the situation to a real life circumstance.

Mathematics – Lastly, math is also a two-part exam – the first part allowing a calculator, and the second must be taken without a calculator.  For both parts, it’s important to have knowledge of algebra, geometry, problem solving, and data analysis in addition to the basic knowledge of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

GED Timeframe

Depending on how long you stayed in school, and how developed your skills are, how long it will take for you to finish your GED will depend on your studying skills.  It’s recommended that you study five days a week, for at least two hours a day – and those who do follow a strict studying regiment will finish their GED sooner than those who do not.

Each topic in the GED exam gives an allotted time in which the section must be completed.  The writing section, which has two parts, will take 75 minutes to complete 50 multiple-choice questions for the first part, and 45 minutes for the essay.  The score of this section is based on a combination from both test parts.  The Social Studies section is compiled of 50 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 70 minutes.  The Science section also has 50 questions that are multiple-choice, but is 80 minutes long.  Reading will have 40 questions that must be completed in 65 minutes, and lastly, the Math section has 50 multiple-choice questions with a 90-minute time limit.  All together, 7 hours and 20 minutes will go towards taking the GED exam.

Depending on what state you live in, you may be able to just take one section at a time, or you may have to take them all at once.  Make sure to check with your GED Test center in your state to find out their policies.

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