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How to Get a GED® Certificate

By Lev Ivers, Educator

High school equivalency test prep is worth time and effort, whether you're taking the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test. Preparation builds knowledge and thinking skills, the key to high scores. Here are some essential steps for solid test preparation.


Unless you know your own strengths and weaknesses,it's difficult to create a study plan for yourself. The first step is to determine the knowledge and skills you already have and which ones you still need to learn or practice. This will help you understand which areas to focus on when you study.

The best way to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are is to take a free practice test online. Practice tests include the same type of questions as the actual test and measure the same skills and knowledge on the test. It will help you become familiar with the way the test works and what types of questions you can expect.

The second step is to develop a study plan. The results of your practice test are good indicators of what to study. Design a study plan that reflects the gaps in your knowledge. Not all students are the same, so make sure you pay attention to your practice test results and what they say about your strengths and weaknesses.

You’ll want to design your study plan to focus on your weaker areas, but don’t forget it’s important to reinforce your strengths too. Strengthening skills you already have will help you develop skills you don't have.


Next, implement your study plan. Your study should include three components: instruction, application, and routine.

Instruction: You'll want to relearn basic knowledge in any test area where you need improvement. There are many ways to do this. Most community colleges offer free or low-cost classes. Or, you may find a support program through local family resource centers, nonprofits, or your workplace.

An online class can also provide a good learning solution for adults who haven't had good classroom experiences, have schedule conflicts, or have lots of family and work responsibilities. Every learner is different, so picking a program that’s right for you is important.

Application: Use knowledge that you learn. Apply it. Make sure your study plan includes plenty of practical problem solving. This will help prepare you for the test and also identify any areas that require additional instruction. It will also help to use new knowledge in everyday situations. Consider how math can be used to mentally calculate groceries while shopping, balance a checking account, manage a budget, or measure during a home repair project. Other skills can be used while reading, planning, organizing, or interpreting directions or instructions on the job.

Make sure your test prep involves a lot of practice to develop or improve critical thinking skills. The GED test, HiSET exam, and TASC test require that you show what you understand, not what you've memorized. It’s important to understand the logic and reasoning required to answer questions. You can apply these skills when you read by actively thinking about the author's intentions.

Critical thinking is the most important skill measured by high school equivalency tests. You'll need to analyze material, evaluate it, and make inferences, deductions, and judgments. Unlike the memorization skills so many students use in high school, high school equivalency tests measure 'application of knowledge' skills, or the ability to use knowledge to solve problems.

Routine: A study plan works best when it's routine. Test candidates benefit most from daily study, with short and longer study sessions. Still, the most important practice is to make study a frequent habit. Even if you can’t study for long periods of time, make sure you set aside time for your study plan and stick to your schedule.


Taking practice tests throughout your study process is a great way to measure your progress. Just like using the practice test to determine your strengths and weaknesses at the beginning to develop your plan, you can use later tests to determine your readiness to take the test. Once you feel you've mastered new knowledge and skills and strengthened your existing skills, assess again.

Your practice test scores will predict your test results, so you'll know if you're really ready to take the test and schedule your test dates, or if you need more instruction, application, and further work and study to build knowledge and improve thinking skills.

Once you're ready for the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test you'll take it at one of the official test locations. Real high school equivalency tests are not given online.

Test prep is a major undertaking, but with a little planning, it can be fast and easy. By using these easy steps, you'll learn exactly what you need to earn your diploma.

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How to Get a GED® Certificate by Lev Ivers 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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