Once you have completed all five test sections, a General Educational Development diploma, like a high school diploma, does not expire. However, there are some situations where individual section scores do expire. For example, when the GED test undergoes changes, the old test and all of the scores that you earned will be discarded, such as in January 2014. If you do not obtain the GED certificate by the change date, you must retake the entire test with the new test version.

Retained Value

Since a GED certificate is a high school equivalency diploma, demonstrating that the person who earned it has the same level of knowledge as 60 percent of high school graduates, it retains its educational value. That means that once you earn it, you can use this credential to obtain employment or higher education at most organizations as long as those organizations accept the GED certificate. According to the GED Testing Service, the organization responsible for developing and issuing the GED test, approximately 95 percent of U.S. colleges and 96 percent of U.S. employers accept a GED as an equivalent to high school graduation.

Expiring Scores

Individual section scores are valid in some states, such as Washington, until a new version of the GED test becomes available. The GED Testing Service issues a new version of the test about every decade. At the time of publication, a new test was scheduled for release in January 2014. In other states, you must complete all test sections within one year of taking the first test section, whether you pass the sections or not. You must pass all test sections within three years of taking the first test. These distinctions sometimes apply to different jurisdictions, as well, including federal prisons and the military. For more specific information, contact the GED testing administrator for your jurisdiction, which you can find on the GED Testing Service website.

Relocating

If you begin your test in a state with a score-expiration policy -- where you must complete and pass all five sections within three years -- and you move to a state that does not have that restriction before completing all sections, the original jurisdiction’s time limit may or may not apply. The GED Testing Service recommends contacting the GED testing administrator for the original jurisdiction to determine if the three-year time limit applies to transferred scores. It could take several weeks for scores to transfer from one state to another, and the transfer process varies from state to state. This impacts the available time to complete testing, which could be an issue if the original time limit still applies for finishing the full GED test.

Better Scores

Since a GED credential never expires, you never need to renew the certificate or complete additional learning to maintain the credential. There are some circumstances, however, when you may not be satisfied with your final grades and would like to retake the test. As with most GED test-taking policies, each jurisdiction varies on when and how certain people can retake all or a portion of the GED test. The Education Portal website indicates that it is often only possible to retake the GED test if a college or employer requires it.