The GED is a high school equivalency exam, but rather than testing your knowledge of high school curriculum, its focus is on your ability to interpret information, think critically, and apply essential skills to specific situations. Don’t worry if you don’t remember many of the concepts from high school. The GED tests what you can do more than just facts and figures. To help you with your GED Prep, we will review the basics of the test and then provide 6 strategies that will help you pass the test on your first try.
There are 4 specific tests on the GED:
- Reasoning Through Language Arts – (150 minutes, including 1 essay)
- Mathematical Reasoning – (115 minutes in 2 parts)
- Science – (90 minutes, including 2 short answer questions)
- Social Studies – (70 minutes)
Each of these exams features a variety of question-types:
- Multiple choice
- Drag and drop
- Select in passage
- Fill in the blank
- Short answer
- Extended response (essay)
How do I pass? To pass the GED, you’ll need a minimum score of 145 on EACH of the 4 tests. If you score a 160 on any test, you earn the GED College Ready, and if you score a 175 on any test, you earn the GED College Ready and up to 10 college credits in that field. The better you do on the exam, the higher the rewards, so study seriously, and reach for your full potential. Don’t just aim to “pass.”
Am I eligible? Eligibility to take the GED is available to anyone who is not currently enrolled in high school, and is at least 18 years old. In certain states, 16 or 17 year olds may take the exam if specific outside requirements are met. To register for the GED, create an account at GED.com, log into MyGED, and click on “Schedule Test” to set up your appointment. The exam is paid for and scheduled one exam at a time.
How much does the exam cost? The cost of the exam varied by state, but is not more than $120 total for all four exams ($30/each). If you do not pass, you may re-take the exam at a discounted rate!
What if English is not my first language? You can take the GED in Spanish in many states! Even if you struggle with English, that will not hinder you in attaining your high school diploma.
GED Prep Strategies
Prep Strategy Tip #1 — Use the TI-30XS calculator. The GED is a computer-based exam, and one interesting component is that the second part of the Mathematics exam, as well as the entire Science exam and the entire Social Studies exam, provide you with an online calculator! If doing calculations in your head makes you nervous, or multiplying and dividing larger numbers can take a long time for you, be sure to take full advantage of this calculator. At GED.com, under the “Test Tips” tab, there is even a free Calculator tutorial that will show you exactly how the calculator looks and how it will function on Test Day. Be sure to use it!
Prep Strategy Tip #2 — Take a free full-length practice test! The GED’s official website offers a completely free practice version of the exam. If you think you might be ready to take the test, take the GEDReady practice exam. To do this, simply log on to GED.com and create a free MyGED account. You can also find study materials available for purchase at the GEDMarketplace. It’s important to use reliable study books so you can get a sense of the general difficulty of the exam.
Prep Strategy Tip #3 — Focus on your pacing. One confusing aspect of the GED is that it is actually four separate exams, and each exam has its own timing guidelines. Always be aware of how long you have left in any given GED exam. Don’t rush through each test, but don’t allow yourself to be surprised when “time” is called, either. As you study, try to get a sense of which sections are harder for you to complete within the given time. You may find one test extremely easy, and another test much more challenging. It is completely normal to have different strengths and weaknesses. Memorize the format and timing guidelines for each independent exam, and always keep a close eye on the clock!
Prep Strategy Tip #4 — Don’t cram. The GED is not a test you can successfully cram for — staying up all night, then taking the test exhausted is a surefire way to wind up with bad GED scores. Mentally prepare for the length of the test — it’s a marathon, not a sprint! Make sure you are sleeping regularly at least eight hours a night in the weeks leading up to test day; create an GED test prep schedule and stick to it. Try to give yourself at least a month or six weeks to prepare.
Prep Strategy Tip #5 –—Draw your own conclusions before looking at the answer choices. Before you look at the answer choices, use the passage, graphics, or given information to predict your own answer. Then match your prediction to the answer choices. This will save you time, and you’ll be doing exactly what the GED requires of you: critical thinking. Don’t get stuck weighing answer choices. Match your prediction and move on!
Prep Strategy Tip #6 — Write at least two practice essays! The longest amount of writing you will need to do on the GED is for the Reading Through Language Arts exam. There is a 45-minute essay you must complete. If you are not a strong writer (and even if you are), it’s a good idea to practice writing at least a couple essays so you feel comfortable expressing yourself in 5-6 paragraphs over a 45-minute period. Try to write with proper spelling and grammar, expressing your ideas and opinions clearly with logical points and specific examples, when relevant. Have a friend, teacher, or family member read your practice essays and give you feedback.