Interpretation of GED Test Scores

by Fitzalan Gorman, Demand Media

The General Educational Development examination is a set of five tests that serves as the equivalency to a high school diploma. This exam tests your knowledge on core high school subject areas, including reading, mathematics, science, social studies and writing. On the GED, your final score does not reflect only how many questions you answered correctly, but also how you compare to other test-takers.

Section Scoring

Each section of the GED test is scored on a range of 200 to 800 points. You must earn a minimum of 410 points on each section to pass it. To receive your GED diploma, you must earn at least 2,250 total points across the five sections. This averages to 450 points per section, but it allows you to have stronger and weaker sections as long as you achieve the minimum score. The maximum score for all five tests is 4,000 points.

Scaled Score

Your raw GED test score is calculated by giving you one point for each correct multiple-choice answer. Incorrect answers and skipped questions carry no penalty. The American Council on Education, who administers the test, uses an internal process to adjust your raw score to a standard score based on a national average. Each year, a sample of high school graduates sit for the GED test. Half of these seniors earn standard scores above 500, and about half earn standard scores below 500 on each test. The ACE determines how many correct answers are needed to achieve this average. At the end of each section, your points are tallied and then are converted to a standard score.

Essay Score

The language arts writing section has a slightly different scoring method than the other sections because of the essay portion. For this section, you must write a two-page essay. Two expert readers score your essay on a scale of 1 to 4. The two scores are averaged. If the readers’ scores vary by more than a point, a third reader is brought in, and the three scores are then averaged. You must get at least an average of 2 to pass this section. Your essay score is then combined with your multiple-choice results to form a composite score for this section. The essay represents 35 percent of your score while the multiple-choice portion represents 65 percent of your score.

Percentile Ranking

In addition to your standard score, you also receive your percentile ranking with your GED results. The percentile ranking ranges from 1 to 99 percent. Your percentile ranking indicates how you compare to graduating high school seniors. A percentile ranking of 62 means that 62 percent of graduating seniors earned your score or lower on the GED.

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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