5 Things You Need to Know About GED Testing

Millions of adults in the U.S. never graduated from high school. But that diploma is still an achievable goal: each year, approximately 750,000 adults take the General Educational Development (GED) test to improve their prospects for the future.

The GED is offered in countless versions and languages so anyone can take the exam, covering reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. If you pass it, you earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. And that success will open up a world of opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise. Here are a few things you need to know about the GED exam.

The Benefits of Having a GED

There are many advantages to earning your GED. With your GED, you’re able to enroll in college or trade school and get financial aid. The diploma is accepted by 97 percent of colleges around the country, according to The Atlantic. Additionally, a GED helps you to get a good job. CareerBuilder.com reports that around 95 percent of employers in a wide range of fields consider the GED as good as a high school diploma.

Having the skills to pass the test will continue to impress your boss long term. When layoffs are necessary, education factors into most decisions about who does or doesn’t make the cut. Not only that, but you’ll be considered more promotable if you have a diploma. You’ll increase your earning power as well. Studies show that people with at least a high school diploma or GED out-earn people with no diploma by about $385,000 over their lifetimes.

Lastly, one of the biggest benefits of earning your GED is your own sense of accomplishment. About 72 percent of those who take the test pass it, according to the College Board, but hardly anyone says it’s a breeze.

GED Eligibility Requirements

In most states, you qualify to take the GED if you meet these conditions:

  • You’ve never graduated from high school.
  • You’re not currently enrolled in high school.
  • You’re at least 17 years old or, in some states, 16.

Depending on where you live, there may be restrictions on the allowable length of time that has passed since you quit school. Some states allow 16-year-olds to take the GED if their parents and a school administrator sign a consent form.

The cost of taking the GED ranges anywhere from $45 to $120. If you’re on a tight budget, you can save up while you’re preparing for the exam. Some states offer payment plans.

How Should You Prepare for the Test?

You may need extensive preparation before taking the GED exam, or you might just need a brief review in one area of weakness. In either case, take the GED seriously. It has five separate sections, requires a brief essay, and takes more than seven hours to complete.

As with any exam, you’ll find the test fairly easy if you study and very difficult if you don’t. You’ll be expected to read, write, solve math problems, and interpret information. Most people who pass the test spent around three months studying. It all depends on your current knowledge and skills.

There are hundreds of resources on the internet that cover everything you’re expected to know. They provide online classes, sample questions and self-scoring practice exams to give you an idea of where you stand.

It’s important to note, however, that the real GED cannot be taken online and that diplomas awarded online are fake. You can only earn a genuine diploma at an authorized testing center.

Tips for Exam Day

GED exam day is a long day, so get plenty of sleep the night before. Eat a healthy, satisfying breakfast to boost your brainpower. Wear comfortable clothing. Allow about 30 minutes for check-in and be on time to the test center. If you’re more than 15 minutes late, you won’t be able to take the test or have your money refunded.

Follow these additional tips for success:

  • Remember to take a GED-approved photo ID.
  • Cell phones are not permitted in the test-taking room, so find out ahead of time if storage lockers are available. Also, ask in advance if you’re permitted to bring in test-taking aids such as a calculator or dry-erase lapboard for working out problems.
  • Manage your time wisely. First, work through the questions you can readily answer. Flag the difficult ones and go back to them later.
  • Answer every question. A 50 percent chance of being correct is better than no chance at all.

What Can You Use GED Certification For?

You can request a hard copy of your certification in case employers, colleges or trade schools ask to see it. If you did well on the test, you can also show off your transcripts.

Getting your GED certification will open doors to better jobs, better educational opportunities, a better income and a brighter future. It’s your key to accomplishing just about any goal for your future, from applying to college, earning graduate degrees, and getting the job or career you’ve wanted for years.

Featured Tip

Having a degree makes a big difference when it comes to money. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that college graduates make $1.1 million more over their careers than those without a degree.