What Subjects Are on a GED Test?

by Linda Hinkle, Demand Media

Mastering the General Educational Development test requires careful preparation, and much of that preparation hinges on knowing what to expect on the exam. The GED test covers five core subject areas: mathematics, social studies, science, reading and writing. The level of mastery required to obtain a GED certificate is generally equivalent to that of a high school graduate.


The GED mathematics test consists of 50 questions covering number theory, algebra, geometry, and data analysis and statistics. Each content area contains approximately the same number of questions. This test is divided into two timed segments of 45 minutes each. On the first part, you are allowed to use an approved calculator but not on the second part. Eighty percent of the questions are multiple choice, while on the others you’ll label information on a graph or write your answers in a space provided. Expect to solve word problems and interpret information displayed in charts, graphs, diagrams and tables.

Social Studies

The social studies section of the GED test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. The questions test your general knowledge and your ability to understand and analyze information in documents included on the exam. You can expect questions about civics and government, geography, economics and history. The history questions include both world history and U.S. history unless you take the test in Canada, which tests Canadian history. You will have 70 minutes to complete the social studies test.


On the science portion of the GED test, you will complete 50 multiple-choice questions in 80 minutes. The content areas covered are physics and chemistry, life science, and earth and space science. Many of the questions will test your vocabulary and basic understanding of concepts and principles normally studied in high school science courses. Some questions will require you to analyze and interpret scientific information presented in charts, tables, graphs and diagrams.


The reading test measures how well you can understand and interpret written passages, both fiction and nonfiction. Seventy-five percent of the questions are about fictional passages from literary selections with the other 25 percent coming from nonfiction passages such as workplace or business-related documents. The test is 65 minutes long with 40 multiple-choice questions.


You will complete the GED writing test in two parts. On the first part, which is 75 minutes long, you will read passages and answer 50 multiple choice questions covering four components of writing -- sentence structure, usage, mechanics and organization. On the second part, you will write an essay expressing your opinion or viewpoint on an assigned topic with which you should be familiar. You have 45 minutes to complete your essay.

About the Author

Linda Hinkle has been a writer since 2004. She spent 29 years teaching mathematics in public high schools and now maintains a private tutoring practice. In addition to writing about education and parenting issues, she writes mathematics assessment and test prep items. Hinkle is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, where she earned a bachelor's degree in education.

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