The General Educational Development (GED) certificate is often confused with a high school diploma. Though both allow the recipient to demonstrate knowledge of basic high school skills, concepts and facts, there are some significant differences in these two certificates.


The GED was introduced in 1942, with the intention of assisting soldiers returning from the war in continuing their educational and vocational endeavors.


A high school diploma is a certification of successful completion of a specific number of credit hours or education, while the GED is a certificate of satisfactory completion of a test of basic high school level skills and knowledge.

Time Frame

In general, a high school diploma takes a full 4 years of full-time classes to complete. The GED consists of a five-part, 7 1/2-hour testing battery.


A GED is enough for acceptance to certain colleges or for obtaining certain jobs. However, more opportunities are available to those who have obtained a high school diploma.

Fun Fact

The GED test is developed by the American Council on Education and is identical throughout the U.S. and Canada. High school diplomas must conform to certain national standards. However, specific requirements vary between states and school districts.