Math: What to Expect When You’re Testing

Math is one of those subjects that just seems to be a thorn in the side of some students. It can be frustrating when others seem to “get it” and you feel left behind. Do any of the following describe you?

  • I used to be good at math, I just need a refresher.
  • I like math but never got good grades.
  • No matter how hard I study, I don’t get it.
  • My math teachers didn’t always teach very well.
  • I don’t like math. Why do we need to know it?
  • I have a learning disability, so studying math is a challenge.
  • I get test anxiety before math tests.

Being aware of your thoughts and feelings about math, and knowing that others may have them too, helps test-takers to feel more comfortable preparing for and taking the GED® Math test. Math anxiety is a lack of self-confidence that comes from a history of low math scores in school, and it makes you focus on being afraid rather than on how to answer a test question. 

You are not alone. Math anxiety is very common among GED test takers, but so is success. You can conquer your fear and pass the test too.

Being prepared is a good way to reduce test anxiety. Put the test into perspective. Yes, you want to pass and that’s important to you, but don’t allow a test to be so important that it makes you feel like you’ve failed before you even start.

So now what? Now you arm yourself with knowledge to give you confidence. As with anything, the test will be hard if you aren’t prepared or if you don’t know what to expect.

So let’s find out what you can expect when it comes to the GED and Math.

What Math Topics Do I Need to Know for the GED Math Test?

The general topics on the GED math test are:

  • Geometry
  • Basic Algebra
  • Graphs & Functions
  • Basic Math

What is “Basic Math”?

Numbers and the four operations--addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division–is the foundation of math. This is called “basic math.”

  • Whole numbers
  • Decimals
  • Percents
  • Fractions

Basic math also includes exponents and finding square roots of numbers.

What Score Do I Need to Pass the GED Math Test?

To pass the Math GED test, you only need a minimum score of 145 out of 200. You get 100 point just for showing up! You only need to get about 45% of the questions right in order to pass.

What About The HiSET® Exam?

You have to score 8/20 points...40%

Can I Use a Calculator on the GED Math Test?

YES! You do not need to bring a calculator when you take the GED. An embedded Texas Instruments ® TI-30XS on-screen calculator will be available for some of the math questions. Try out the On Screen Calculator they’ll provide. HiSET testing centers will provide on-screen calculators for computer-based testing and approved calculators for paper testing. Basic Math sections do not allow the use of a calculator.

Is There a Practice Test I Can Take to See How Much I Already Know?

Use our free GED Math practice test to try some questions similar to the questions on the GED math test. Essential Education students: Take advantage of testing opportunities built into your lessons.

Is There a GED Math Book Available?

Yes!  Essential Math Skills is available at Again, if you are an Essential Education student, your online lessons link to this workbook and may provide extra support.

What Will the GED Math Test Look Like?

Multiple choice is by FAR the most frequent answer type you’ll encounter, so be sure to practice.

What About All Those Formulas?

There is a formula sheet provided when you take the GED Math Test. English and Spanish versions can be downloaded from the GED website. The formula sheet is one page long. It has perimeter, area, data, and algebra formulas. Make sure you practice with EACH of the formulas (plugging in different numbers) to make sure you understand how they work.

What Are Some Algebra Questions Asked?

Algebra is the highest level of math you’ll encounter on the test, and it’s definitely the part that scares most people. The thing about algebra is that it’s the same as other kinds of math, it just looks different. Algebra is an extension of basic mathematical concepts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponents. The only difference is that algebra uses letters, called variables, in place of certain numbers. When this happens, you have algebraic expressions and equations. The GED exam will ask questions about simplifying algebraic expressions and solving equations.

What Are Some Geometry Questions Asked?

Shapes are an important part of math. The GED exam will ask questions about different types of shapes and how numbers relate to those shapes. Learn about circles, triangles, quadrilaterals, cubes, prisms, pyramids, cylinders, and cones. Questions will ask you about the area and perimeter of two-dimensional shapes, and the volume and surface of three-dimensional shapes. One thing that helps me is thinking about geometry, like a puzzle. 

Have Great Expectations!

Remember: Prep! Know what to expect. Preparation takes time. Anyone can learn if given the right tools and time.

Be sure to check out this article's recap coaching session that is all about how to pass the math test. If you sign up for the Math: What to Expect When You're Testing coaching session we’ll send you the recap materials which include a recording of the session, the slideshow presentation, and the top 5 takeaways students should know! You can also watch the recorded session below: 


Rosiee Thormahlen, Student Advisor


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