The General Educational Development test allows those who did not graduate from high school to obtain equivalency certification that may help them get better jobs or enter college or technical schools. The exam covers reading, writing, math, social studies and science. Knowing what to expect on test day may increase your chances of success.
You'll be required to check in at the testing center and prove your identity. To meet eligibility requirements, you must be at least 16 and not enrolled in high school. If you are a minor, complete the necessary permission forms and have your parents or guardians sign. Testers must present identification before testing, which may be a driver's license or state-issued ID, passport or military documentation that shows your name, address, birthdate, signature and photo. You will likely need to fill out several pages of information about yourself and your background before testing.
Most GED testing centers offer the exam on computer, and as of 2014, all testers will take the computer-based version. Using a computer for the test requires moving a mouse to click on a button for a multiple-choice question. Some questions allow users to open information windows and use the mouse to drag the smaller windows on the screen. You may need to use a scroll bar with some windows to view all the information. Math questions may include links that open windows with formulas or explanations of how to use your calculator for the problem. Some require keyboard typing.
Each content area has its own time limit, adding up in total to about seven hours. Math, science and social sciences portions each require 90 minutes, and the language arts portion takes 2 1/2 hours. Centers do not typically allow testers to take breaks between sections within each content area, only short breaks -- think 10 minutes or so -- between content area exams. You cannot take scratch paper, pencils, music players or phones into the testing area.
Do not expect to find out if you passed the GED right away. While the computerized version allows for fast scoring, GED guidelines prohibit administrators from giving scores of even parts of the exam to testers. You will receive official scores and transcripts in the mail, possibly in two to three weeks. You may retake portions of the exam if you did not pass them all the first time, testing only the sections you still need to complete.
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