Most People Can Pass the GED® Test

Throughout the country, there is a push to help adults who didn't graduate earn a diploma and become eligible for higher-paying jobs and higher education. But many never try for their high school equivalency diploma. Why? Each one has a reason. Each one thinks, "How can I get my GED? I can't." But the truth is, most people can pass the GED test or HiSET exam. Here are a few reasons people think they can't pass, and why they're wrong.

"How can I get my GED? It's too hard."

Is passing the GED test or HiSET exam too difficult for adults without a high school diploma? The short answer is no. Passing the test can actually be easy. Part of the problem is knowing what to study.

High school equivalency exams, which vary by state, are series of four or five tests in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. Each test can be taken as many times as needed until you pass. By taking time and focusing on one area at a time, you can work through each subject.

You can find out what areas you need to work on by taking either a pencil-and-paper or free online practice test. Your scores will show you what you need to work on. Once you know what to study, find a study program that will fit your needs—in your community, in a bookstore, or online. By sticking to a well-made study plan, any adult can pass the test.

"Studying is boring."

A recent study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ("The Silent Epidemic") found that most high school dropouts leave school because they found school uninteresting, boring, and not relevant to their lives. Most of these students had grade point averages of C or better and could have graduated. Traditional approaches, like a study guide, can be frustrating for these learners. But there are many more options today for how to study.

Online classes allow students to study at their own pace, on their own time; the best online programs have entertaining and visual presentations. Discriminating adult students choose study materials by focusing on what type of learning works best for them.

"I don't have time to go to classes."

Most people studying for the GED test or HiSET exam are adults, with adult responsibilities including a job, a spouse, and children. Going to classes takes time, but there are many options for studying at home. Making time to study doesn't need to involve a lot of driving or a set schedule. By setting aside a little bit of time each day to work toward your goal, you can complete your preparation within your busy schedule. If you're managing your own study time, it's important to find a program that can keep you interested and motivated, so look into software or online programs that are visual and entertaining.

"I can't learn all the things I missed in four years of high school."

Because the GED test and HiSET exam are high school equivalency exams, many test-takers expect that they will require all the knowledge (and memorization!) taught in four years of high school. However, the tests focus, not on memorization of facts, figures, and dates, but on fundamental skills: math, communication, and critical thinking.

Test-takers need to focus their learning on how to think. They need to acquire fundamental problem solving, analysis, critical thinking, communications, and mathematics skills. Learning these skills is easier than memorization. Depending on your existing skill level, properly preparing for the test can take weeks or months, not years.

"I don't need a GED."

Many undereducated adults have jobs, but most of them are underpaid and lack job security. The job market is growing more and more limited for people without high school diplomas. A worker who is suddenly faced with unemployment will find it difficult to find a new job, and a worker who wants to advance may find promotions blocked without a high school degree.

In a competitive job market, employers continue to look for applicants with more education and qualifications. Without a high school diploma, the average income is about $18,000 per year. With one, it jumps to nearly $26,000—and if you go on to finish college, the average income leaps to about $44,000. Based on those figures, a diploma is a necessity.


Howard Lobo, Educator


Overcoming Obstacles