What Is Covered in the GED?

by Lee Grayson, Demand Media Google
GED tests offer adults a way to qualify for advanced training and education programs.

GED tests offer adults a way to qualify for advanced training and education programs.

The General Education Development Test, a registered trademark of the GED Testing Service, offers a method for adults without a diploma to earn certification for high school-level skills and knowledge. Passing the GED exam gives adults an opportunity to enter some colleges that require a high school diploma and apply for jobs asking for an academic diploma. Test takers must be 18 years old, or 16 with permission from the district superintendent, and have residency in any of the 50 states offering the GED test. Some states, including California, issue high school equivalency certificates for passing the GED exam.

Language Arts Reading

The timed GED language arts segment focuses on reading questions about fiction literature and multiple-choice questions about poetry, drama, prose fiction divided into three categories -- before 1920, between 1920 and 1960 and after 1960. The nonfiction questions, part of the same timed reading section, focus on nonfiction prose, visual and performing arts reviews and workplace and community documents, such as reading tax documents.

Language Arts Writing

The language arts writing portion of the GED test has two separate parts. The first features a timed segment asking only multiple-choice questions. The second requires the test taker to write an essay as a separate timed test. The first test format provides passages followed by questions about the information presented in the passage. Answers ask for interpretations about the passage organization, sentence construction, word usage and grammar mechanics, including punctuation and capitalization. The timed essay allows time to organize and complete an essay covering one topic assigned by the testing facility on the lined pages of the separate official test booklet. Essay scoring judges your ability to stay focused on the topic and develop the main points with clear organization. Scoring also evaluates how well you handle spelling, grammar, word selection, sentence structure and punctuation.


The multiple-choice math questions test your knowledge of number operations and sense, measurement and geometry and algebra functions and patterns. Questions also assess your understanding of data analysis, statistics and probability.


The timed science portion of the exam features multiple-choice questions. The questions test your ability to solve problems and use sound reasoning skills. Half of the questions about life, physical, earth and space sciences involve problem solving. The largest number of questions deal with life sciences, including plant and animal subject areas. Exam takers must read passages to select a correct answer and interpret the material based on science knowledge. This segment also has science-based multiple-choice questions using graphs, maps, diagrams, charts and tables.

Social Studies

The separately timed social studies GED test segment asks questions about history, geography, civics, government and economics. Some of the multiple-choice questions use a short reading as a basis for answering the questions. Test takers must use logic, reasoning and information about history and political science to decide on the best answer. This segment requires reading charts, maps, graphs and political cartoons. Questions also test your social studies understanding by asking you to apply your knowledge. Test takers, for example, must select the correct example of a spoils system or identify one situation protected by one of the federal constitutional amendments.

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About the Author

Lee Grayson has worked as a freelance writer since 2000. Her articles have appeared in publications for Oxford and Harvard University presses and research publishers, including Facts On File and ABC-CLIO. Grayson holds certificates from the University of California campuses at Irvine and San Diego.

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