By Leonard Williams
The GED® diploma is the adult learner’s alternative to a high school diploma. But many people don’t understand the difficulty and value of the GED test, the testing requirements, or even the process of taking the GED test.
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The first GED tests were developed in 1942 to help military war veterans finish their basic education and high school study program. Today, passing the GED test is a worthwhile goal for the 40 million U.S. adults who never graduated from high school. A GED diploma enables adults to complete an educational milestone, to progress at work or in a career, and to qualify for advanced training and higher educational opportunities. People with a GED diploma make an average of $685,000 more in their lifetime than people who do not have a GED diploma or high school diploma.
What does the GED test involve?
The GED diploma is based on a set of five tests, a cumulative 7.5-hour exam that measures knowledge of math, science, social studies, reading and writing ability.
For the GED science, GED social studies and GED reading tests, the questions test your ability to make inferences, evaluations, and deductions from short passages of text or from pictures or charts. The multiple-choice GED mathematics test requires knowledge of basic number operations, basic algebra and geometry, and data analysis. Part of the GED mathematics test requires use of a calculator to perform number operations, and it’s a good idea to take a GED math practice test.
The GED writing test has two parts. The first is a multiple-choice test about organization, grammar, spelling, usage, and mechanics. The second part of the GED writing test is a 45-minute essay, based on a prompt. The better your score on the essay, the fewer multiple choice questions you’ll need to get right. Getting practice writing GED essays is a good idea.
The GED tests are given at Official GED Testing centers locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. Even though some companies claim to offer the GED test online, taking the GED Test online is not allowed. The GED test is not given online, only at official GED test locations. International testing is also available.
How does the test compare to high school?
The GED test has gleaned the most essential knowledge and skills acquired during a high school education. The emphasis in the GED tests is not on memorization, but on the application of practical knowledge and critical-thinking skills in the context of given information. If you can think through the question, you can answer it correctly. Luckily, thinking skills can be easy to learn.
What are passing GED testing scores?
The standard GED testing scores range from a minimum of 200 to a maximum of 800 on each test. Passing the GED test requires a score of at least 410 on each GED test, and an overall average score of 450 for the five-test battery. What does that mean? Well, the GED test isn’t really scored by percentage or the number you get right. Your GED results are compared to the results of hundreds of high school seniors who took the GED test to standardize it. Passing GED testing scores mean you did better than 40% of graduating high school seniors. The number of questions you need to get right varies in different versions of the test, but if you’re getting 60% to 70% correct on GED practice test questions, you’re probably near a passing score.
How difficult is the GED test?
In terms of difficulty, consider that an average of only 60% of high school graduates can pass the test. For some people, GED testing can seem more difficult than high school because it’s easier to just memorize information than to know how to use it. For people who haven’t had much experience in making inferences, analyzing data, and making judgments, the GED test can seem very difficult.
A solid GED study program with an emphasis on the skills to think through a problem goes a long way toward reducing the difficulty level and increasing scores. Understanding the way the GED test questions are given also helps, so taking a pencil-and-paper or online GED practice test go a long way in preparedness.
How Can I Get My GED?
Taking GED online classes or a local GED course is a good way to outline a path of study. Some employers offer GED test prep programs or basic skills classes as part of a workforce development program. In addition, most communities offer a low-cost or even free GED class through a local high school, family resource center, community college, or university.
But for many adult learners, local classes aren’t a viable option. Research shows that GED on-site classes often conflict with adult learners’ schedules, job obligations, and family commitments, and that many students have little or no access to childcare and transportation. For these adult learners, GED classes online are often the best option. A GED guide or pencil-and-paper or online GED practice test is also helpful in preparing for the GED test at home.
Free online GED test resources and online GED programs enable an adult learner to create a self-guided study course. Self-guided study is affordable, provides flexible scheduling, and allows you to learn at your own pace, which is important since many adult learners report a history of negative classroom experiences.
Be careful when looking to get GED online free resources or online GED courses. Lots of companies have websites that sell a bogus high school or GED diploma online. When looking for GED classes online, it pays to shop, compare, and read the fine print.
What are the advantages of a GED diploma?
- People with a GED diploma make $480,000 more in their lifetime than people without a high school or GED diploma. That averages out to $12,000 a year more income for you. Not a bad raise! And if you go on to college, average income goes up a lot more!
- A GED diploma will help you get a better job. Employers would rather hire someone who has the basic skills to pass the GED test than someone who doesn’t. Completing the GED diploma means that the graduate has the fortitude to successfully finish a difficult exam. The GED diploma is not a small thing! (But it doesn’t have to be too hard.)
- You can get a GED diploma quickly and inexpensively. Most community colleges offer a low-cost or free GED class, and online GED programs can be very affordable.
- Passing the GED test will make you more valuable to your employer because you’ll have gained basic writing and math skills in addition to demonstrating critical thinking skills that are essential in the workplace. You’ll find it’s easier to get a work promotion or advance through workplace job-training programs once you have your GED diploma.
- Working to get a GED diploma opens doors for advanced training. Most specialized training programs require either a high school diploma or a GED diploma. And with a GED diploma, you can look at higher education opportunities like college or vocational school.
- You’ll feel better about yourself with a GED diploma because you’ve accomplished something that only 60% of high school graduates can do.
- Finally, consider the impact of your educational achievement on your family. That alone goes a long way; it’s priceless.
GED diploma or high school? Really there’s only one choice for most people. Passing the GED Test is the quickest, easiest and simplest way to improve the opportunities in your life.