By Michael Ormsby
Over 39 million disenfranchised American adults have no high school diploma, and so the doors to higher education and better job opportunities are closed to them. As a group, these Americans make about $350,000 less in their lifetimes than high school graduates. Instead of moving the economy and their lives forward, Americans without high school degrees are held back. The most widely accepted option for adults without a high school degree is the GED Test, a high school equivalency exam. What is this examination? What is it really testing? Can it truly be the equivalent of high school?
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The skills that the GED® exam is designed to measure are core skills that all high school students should learn, including communication, mathematics, problem solving, critical thinking, evaluation, and information processing. The GED test designers identify skills that are demanded by employers and by colleges or vocational schools, and the test is created to measure these real-life skills. According to the American Council of Education (ACE), a successful GED candidate must score better than 40 percent of traditional high school graduates.
The GED test is divided into five sections: the GED reading test, GED writing test, GED mathematics test, GED science test, and GED social studies test. It tests competency in understanding important documents and communicating through writing, essential skills in any workplace or learning environment. It also tests fundamental math concepts, which are important in dealing with financial management and business issues which affect all adults.
However, perhaps the most important skills that the GED measures are thinking skills. Most GED questions are not focused on knowledge of facts. Instead, many questions on the GED test measure the test-taker’s ability to carefully think through a problem and use reasoning to come to a correct answer. To get a GED diploma, test-takers are asked to use critical thinking, problem solving, evaluation, and analysis skills, along with fundamental knowledge of the nature of science, language, math, and social sciences. Because thinking skills can be applied to any discipline or workplace, these are the most crucial skills for any adult to master.
This is good news for the test-taker. It means that studying for, and passing, the GED test doesn’t need to involve memorizing four years’ worth of high school textbooks. Instead, GED test-takers can focus their learning on essential skills. It’s also good news for employers. The ACE states that many employers find that they “get a more educated, more committed workforce” by hiring GED graduates.
GED test prep is the most important component in passing the GED test. Finding the right study program is the key. A wide variety of GED study programs are available. You can study from a GED guide, take a low-cost or free GED class at an adult learning center, study in a workplace program, and find a local GED community college program. The best preparation for students who didn’t pass high school is often an online GED class or computer-based learning program. The best online GED programs are easily customized to the student’s needs, address different learning styles in an accessible way, and allow students to learn at their own pace, reviewing as much and as often as needed.
Be wary of any program that claims to award an “online GED diploma” or a high school diploma through an online test, though. These “diplomas” are usually worthless. You can’t take your GED online, since taking the GED test online doesn’t allow test centers to make sure the right person is taking the test and following test-taking rules. The real GED test is respected by employers and colleges because it is an official, government approved test. More than 95% of colleges and employers accept a GED test credential, opening closed doors for the millions of adult Americans who never completed high school.
Michael Ormsby is the president of the GED Academy and oversees software and curriculum for adult learners and people with educational challenges. For more information, visit passGED.com. Michael can be contacted by telephone at 800-460-8150.