The GED provides an alternative to a high school diploma.

The GED test allows you to earn certification or a diploma that shows you have equivalent knowledge of current high school seniors. The examination contains five parts that test various subjects and knowledge areas. You must pass each of the five tests to earn your GED diploma or certificate. Tests are administered only at official GED testing centers.

Language Arts: Writing and Reading

The language arts portion of the GED constitutes two of the five tests -- writing and reading. The writing portion provides you with 75 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions that test your ability to construct, correct and revise sentences. You must read and respond to an essay question within 45 minutes. Adjudicators grade your essay based on how well you explain your opinion and views on a general-interest subject. The reading part of the test provides 50 multiple-choice questions that you must answer within 60 minutes. The reading questions test your ability to extract information from a passage and comprehend what you've read.

Social Studies and Science

The social studies part of the GED tests your ability to answer questions from history, economics, geography, government and civil matters. You are graded on how well you respond to the various cartoons, graphs and charts presented to you. The social studies test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions with a time limit of 70 minutes. The science portion also contains 50 multiple-choice questions and tests your ability to answer life science, earth and space science, chemistry and physics questions. The science test provides you with 80 minutes to complete the questions and grades you based on your knowledge of how to interpret graphs, charts, test results and figures.


The mathematics test consists of two parts with a time limit of 45 minutes for each part. Each part contains 25 questions in multiple-choice and grid formats. Part I allows you to use a calculator. Part II does not allow the use of a calculator. The test center provides you with a calculator and grades you on your knowledge of algebra, geometry and measurements. Additionally, statistics questions are asked that deal with number theory, data analysis and probability.

GED Scores

Once you complete the test, each question that you answered correctly earns you one point. The test does not assign negative points for incorrectly answered questions, so answering every question helps your chances of receiving a higher score. The GED score report shows how well you did in each section, but you won't receive information on how many questions you answered correctly. Instead, you receive a standard score from 130 to 170. Higher scores are better. Additionally, a percentile score compares your scores with high school seniors. The GRE score report also contains a pass or non-pass status. There are four jurisdictions for the GRE in the United States and each jurisdiction determines the minimum pass or non-pass scores. Tests taken before Aug. 1, 2011 were scored in 10-point increments for a total score of 200 to 800.

Scoring Formula

The scoring formula contains provisions to compensate for another section if you do poorly in one section but exceptionally well in another section. This provision may help you get a higher overall score. Passing the GED provides you with the opportunity to apply to more than 95 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. Additionally, a passing score on the GED means you scored in the top 40 percent of the current senior class of students. If you plan to attend college, check with the college to learn about the minimum GED score required for entrance.