The GED, also known as a General Equivalency Diploma or General Educational Development, is a certification issued in lieu of a high school diploma, provided the applicant passes a standardized test. According to Education-Portal, 95 percent of colleges and universities accept a GED as a high school equivalent (see Reference 2). The test is broken up into five sections and takes around eight hours to complete. The length of the entire process varies; between studying and scheduling, your pace is up to you.


The amount of time it takes to complete the GED process depends on your ability to learn and apply the information you need to pass the test. This depends on your level of education, your ability to study competently, your access to study materials, your time management and your self-discipline. This process can take anywhere from six weeks to a year; it's up to you. Some facilities require you take a GED prep class before you can sign up to take the exam, or you may choose to take a class rather than study independently. Class lengths and times vary, and this will be another factor in the length of the GED process.


Scheduling is another factor in the length of the GED process. You will not be allowed to take the test before your scheduled date. Some facilities give GED tests daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly. In some cases, you might be able to shorten your GED process by scheduling the test and studying for the exam in the meantime. The success of this strategy depends on your ability to study and retain information in a short amount of time.


The actual GED examination takes approximately seven to eight hours to complete and is typically broken up over two to three days. The exam is composed of five sections: mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies.


Once you have finished sitting for your GED exam, the test will be scored and the results sent in the mail. This can take anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on the volume of tests that need to be scored. Other delays can include problems with your test such as stray markings on test sheets, not filling in the bubble correctly or torn answer sheets. If you've passed, you'll be sent your diploma. If you haven't passed, you can retake part or all of your test, although this will add a variable amount of time to the GED process.