Student Learning Objectives for the GED

by Avery Martin, Demand Media Google
The GED provides a path to a high school certificate or diploma.

The GED provides a path to a high school certificate or diploma.

Over 18 million people have taken the GED since its inception in 1942. Many colleges and universities accept the GED in place of a high school diploma. Passing the GED shows that you have the knowledge required of current high school seniors. Understanding the objectives and requirements of each test section provides a framework to study and prepare for the test.


The GED Test consists of five academic areas: Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Test-takers are timed and it benefits you to complete all the questions, since there are no penalties for wrong answers. Testing options are available for paper-based tests and computer-based tests, at supported locations. The GED does not offer an option to take the test online, regardless of whether you use the paper-based or computer-based test.

Language Arts: Writing

The GED writing section tests your ability to identify, write and analyze provided writing samples. The writing section always comes first and includes an essay question. The essay question requires an original analysis and tests your ability to express your views on a general interest subject. Additionally, the writing section contains 50 questions that assess your ability to correct sentences and make revisions, and tests your knowledge of grammar and construction. The test provides 75 minutes to complete the first section and 45 minutes for the essay.

Language Arts: Reading

The reading portion of the GED test determines your ability to extract and respond to information provided in various types of publications. Fiction and nonfiction materials are covered. Reading several types of books, newspapers, journals, short stories and other writings can help improve your reading comprehension. However, you must actively read, ask questions and analyze the information presented to do well. The test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions, in which you must answer within 65 minutes.


The mathematics portion of the GED test contains 50 questions of mixed multiple-choice and grid-ins. Half of the math questions allow use of a calculator that the testing center provides. For computer-based tests, you are given the choice between an on-screen calculator or a physical calculator. The mathematics section tests your knowledge of algebra, measurements and understanding of geometry. The test also evaluates your ability to understand graphs, number theory, probability and statistics with real-world applications. Word problems make up a large portion of the test. The mathematics section consists of two 45-minute sessions.


The science section of the GED test contains 50 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of life science, earth and space sciences, chemistry and physics. You must have a basic understanding of the principle foundations in each field. Additionally, the test requires strong reading skills and the ability to analyze and understand various forms of scales, maps, figures, charts and scientific data. The science section provides 80 minutes to complete the questions.

Social Studies

The social studies portion of the GED test contains 50 multiple-choice questions from several fields in the social sciences. For example, the test measures your understanding of the constitution, how government works, basic principles of inflation, economics and U.S. history. You must read, view political cartoons and analyze graphs and charts to answer the questions. Canadians are provided with a version of the test suitable for Canada. Social studies allows 70 minutes to complete the questions.

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About the Author

Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.

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