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GED® Eligibility and Requirements

By Josef Reese, Educator

For today's 39 million U.S. adults who didn't graduate from high school, a state-issued high school equivalency (HSE) diploma is the best way to demonstrate skills and abilities necessary for a better job or more education.

Developed in 1942, the initial GED test was designed to help military veterans finish their basic education. Today, any adult who has not received a high school diploma in the U.S. can take the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test to get an HSE certificate. A state diploma is awarded to anyone passing the test, which measures knowledge and skills in science, social studies, math, reading, and writing.

Who's Eligible to Take the GED Test, HiSET exam, or TASC Test?

Every state or province offers one or more of the three high school equivalency tests. As a rule, you're eligible to take the test if:

  • You aren't currently enrolled in high school;
  • You haven't graduated from high school;
  • You are at least 18 years old or older. Some states or provinces will allow testing at 16 and 17 years, often with special requirements.
  • You meet local requirements regarding age, residency, preparation, and the length of time since leaving school.

Test eligibility varies in different states and provinces, because each government administers the test and awards an official certificate. Find out more about your local test requirements and which tests are available.

What Other Circumstances Apply to Test Candidates?

Some candidates elect to take the test when they have a high school diploma from an unaccredited high school or they've been home-schooled. An official state credential helps these candidates get accepted by colleges and employers.

Similarly, candidates who graduated from a non-U.S. high school are generally eligible to take the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test if they meet all other state and federal requirements. Often, a high school equivalency diploma is more readily accepted than a non-U.S. diploma.

U.S. citizenship is not a requirement to take the test. Adults who aren't US citizens can take the test and earn a credential.

Can I Get a GED Online?

No! Taking the HiSET, TASC, or GED online is not allowed. High school equivalency tests must be approved by your state. They are ONLY given at designated test centers. At the test center, you must prove your identity and follow the test center requirements. This gives the test value. The government, employers, and colleges know who passed the test and under what circumstances. They can trust the results.

What Makes a GED, TASC, or HiSET Credential a High School Equivalent?

The tests are rigorous seven or eight hour exams, equal to or exceeding high school proficiency. Passing the test requires a candidate to demonstrate a level of skill that meets or exceeds that demonstrated by 60% of graduating high school seniors. This means that 40% of graduating high school seniors wouldn't pass the test.

Approximately 97 percent of colleges and universities in the U.S. and 95 percent of employers accept an official high school equivalency diploma.

It may seem difficult, but with a little bit of preparation, you can pass the test. Once you do, you'll have a credential that will make your path forward easier and more rewarding.

Author’s Recommendations:

GED® Eligibility and Requirements by Josef Reese is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United Stated License, redistribution of this article is allowed under the following terms outlined here.

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