Passing the General Educational Development exam offers you the equivalent of a high school diploma, which can open opportunities in employment and higher education. If you're considering a GED, you aren't alone. Almost 800,000 people take the test yearly, according to the American Council on Education, the organization that developed the exam. To earn a GED, you’ll have to successfully complete an exam that tests your knowledge and skills in the areas of writing, reading, science, social studies and mathematics.
Review the GED eligibility requirements. The GED test is available in all states, but each state sets its own qualifications to take the test. In general, you cannot be currently enrolled in high school or have a high school diploma. The minimum age varies by state. For example, in New York, 16 is the minimum age to take the test. In Oregon, you must be at least 18 unless you meet specific requirements to test earlier.
Locate the closest official testing center. The official website of the GED Testing Service offers an online database of testing centers across the country. Most testing centers offer the option of taking the GED on the computer or taking a traditional paper and pencil exam. Review the options available at your local testing center. Contact your closest center for its hours of operation.
Register for the GED exam. If you need time to study, choose a date in the future. Taking the test immediately if you aren't prepared is a waste of money if you don't pass. Visit or call the testing center to request registration forms. You need a government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license, passport or Armed Forces ID. You must also pay the fee to take the GED exam.
Study for the exam. Preparation courses may be available at nearby colleges, high schools or GED testing centers. Online practice tests and books related to the GED offer another way to study.
Complete the exam’s five sections. The exam requires roughly seven hours of your time. Depending on the regulations of your local testing service, you may be allowed to take the entire test in one sitting, or take one section per session.
Contact the testing center to find out when your scores will be available. This may take several weeks.
Review your scores to determine if you passed the GED exam. Averaging at least 450 in each content area -- or a total score of at least 2,250 -- is the minimum for passing. You also need a minimum score of 410 in each content area on the test to pass. This gives you some flexibility if you are strong in one area and not another. For example, if your score is low in social studies but high in science, your science score could boost you enough to reach the 450 average, assuming your social studies score is at least 410. Some states may require higher scores to pass, so check on local requirements.
Plan to retake the GED exam if you didn't pass. You can retake the GED test for total of three tries in a year to improve low scores on certain subtests. Check on the specific requirements for retaking the exam in your state.
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