How to Take the GED® Test
By Samuel Parker, Educator
September 16, 2016
So you want a high school equivalency diploma? You’re not alone! Twenty-six million Americans need one. Well, congratulations! You’ve taken your first step by reading this article. Start simply, by finding out what you need to know. The first questions everyone asks are: What can I expect? What will it be like? How can I get my GED certificate?
Depending on your state, you can get your high school equivalency (HSE) diploma by taking the GED test, the HiSET exam, or the TASC test. There are a lot of similarities between these three tests. The test may be offered on a computer, but you’ll need to take it at an official local testing center. After you pass your HSE test, you’ll earn your HSE diploma from your state government.
What Is on the Test?
The three HSE tests measure the most important skills that people should learn in high school. All three cover math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. The GED test combines reading and writing into one Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) test, and the other tests have separate reading and writing exams. It’s easy to say that you’ll need high school basics, but what does that mean?
Well, HSE exams try to test four years of high school knowledge. So it can seem intimidating! But you don’t need to get every question right. In fact, if you can get two out of three questions, you’re probably doing great. That means, boiling the questions down to the most basic skills and focusing on those can get you a long way toward passing. What are these important, basic skills on the GED, HiSET, and TASC tests?
- Reading: Reading skills will help you pass reading, writing, science, and social studies. So, you definitely want to practice reading skills. If you learn to think through and answer questions about what you read, you’re a long way toward passing.
- Writing: Each HSE test has an essay. Practicing writing along with reading (and especially writing about what you read!) is important for most test-takers.
- Math: Building basic math skills is the first step. Refresh your memory on math concepts that you probably learned but have forgotten. Then practice some basic algebra and geometry with those foundational skills.
- Thinking skills: What you really need to earn an HSE diploma
In each subject area, you want to build thinking skills: solving problems, making inferences, evaluating information. The GED, HiSET, and TASC tests are not really about memorizing facts. They’re thinking tests. Essential Education calls it a thinking marathon because the HSE tests take nearly eight hours of almost non-stop thinking. (Though you don't need to take all the tests at once!)
The analogy is not bad. Marathon runners need to train their bodies, and in much the same way, GED, HiSET, or TASC test-takers need to train their minds. But unlike a marathon, HSE studying can be fast, and it can be easy.
How Can I Study?
For your HSE exam, you’ll learn a well-defined set of skills; not facts and figures, but skills, like how to think through a problem to come to the right conclusion. It may take a few weeks, but with the right preparation, adult learners are amazingly successful at the GED, HiSET, and TASC tests.
To make studying fast, first narrow down exactly what you need to learn. Taking a free online practice test can help you make a study plan (and get more familiar with what’s on the test). This will give you very specific things to study. Once you have a study plan, you need good resources to help you learn.
There are really two ingredients to successful learning: time and teaching. Time, because you need to spend the right amount of time for you. And teaching, because you need explanations that make sense to you. You need to understand, not just memorize. Choose a study program that lets you work at a pace that’s right for you and that teaches in a way that you can understand.
Online and computer-based test prep is the best choice for many learners. Because you can study at home, at your own pace, you can learn more quickly and effectively. Learn more about online courses for the GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test.
Hidden Skills: Test-taking and Study Skills
Here’s something else to think about: test-taking and study skills. You can learn how to pace yourself on a test. You can learn test-taking skills like how to answer multiple choice questions. You can learn study skills that will help you remember more and learn faster. These skills make a difference and can help you get a passing score. Find study guides.
Getting your GED, HiSET, or TASC certificate can be simple. Make a personal plan. First, take a practice test and make a study plan. Then, study at your own pace. When you’re ready, take the test at an official test center. You can be on your way to an HSE diploma before you know it!
How to Take the GED® Test by Samuel Parker 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.