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How to Earn Your GED

by Fitzalan Gorman, Demand Media

    The General Educational Development exam is administered by the American Council on Education and serves as an alternative to a traditional high school diploma. The GED exam tests your knowledge in five content areas: mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies. Historically, this test was designed for World War II veterans to receive their diploma after the war, but now it is taken by a variety of people for a range of reasons.

    State Requirements

    To take the GED, you cannot be enrolled in high school or have graduated from high school. The American Council on Education sets the age requirement at 16 years old, but there may be stricter state requirements regarding age, residency and length of time since you left school. In California, you must be 18 years or older or within 60 days of your 18th birthday. In Florida, you can take it at 16 if you have been granted an age waiver from your local educational agency.

    Preparing for the Exam

    The GED is a rigorous battery of five tests that can take more than 7½ hours, so the American Council on Education recommends that you study to ensure you have the skill level to successfully complete the exam. To pass the GED exam, you need to be able to read, write, analyze and compute information on a level that is equal to 60 percent of graduating high school seniors. Each year, a sample of graduating high school seniors takes the GED test to establish this number.

    Registering for the Exam

    You only can take the GED exam at an official testing center. There are approximately 3,400 testing centers in the United States, Canada and their territories. Local schools, adult education centers and community colleges run most testing centers. Do not register for the GED test until you are ready. Many testing centers offer practice exams. Consider sitting for a practice exam before taking the real exam to ensure you are prepared. The practice exam helps familiarize you with the testing format and the results can help reveal any areas where you need extra practice. While you are taking the practice exam, pay attention to question formats that make you struggle. Place extra attention on these types of questions in your future GED studying.

    Passing the Test

    Each section is scored on a range of 200 to 800 points. In order to pass the GED, you must have a combined passing score of 2,250 points. This averages out to 450 points per section, but it allows you to have stronger and weaker sections. For a content area to be accepted, you must get a minimum of 410 points. It may take several weeks to receive your scores.

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    About the Author

    Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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