The General Educational Development test, or GED, is an exam taken by people who have not completed a traditional high school program but who want to prove they have knowledge equivalent to a high school education. Subjects covered on the GED cover the core curriculum taught in high school including math, reading, writing, science and social studies.
The GED was created in 1942 to help World War II veterans resume their civilian lives by getting jobs and, if they chose, enrolling at a college or university. The GED program was first implemented in New York state and is now administered in all 50 states and territories.
Several criteria make a person eligible to take the GED. Although eligibility rules vary from state to state, generally GED candidates cannot be enrolled in high school and also cannot have a high school diploma, and they must meet various state and local residency and age requirements.
18 and Older
GED age requirements vary to some degree from state to state, but typically anyone age 18 (sometimes 18 and a half) and older may take the GED.
Testing at 17
To take the GED at 17 years of age, you cannot be enrolled in a high school. You may, however, take the exam if you are enrolled in an approved GED preparation program. You must also have parental permission to take the test. Some states have an additional requirement that you must be out of school for at least one year before taking the GED.
16-Year-Old Age Waiver
Some 16-year-old students may take the GED Tests if they have been accepted into a University or vocational program. The college must provide a letter and the student must fill out an age-waiver application to take the exam. The GED is usually required before the student can be officially accepted into the college program.