The GED® Test: A Thinking Marathon

Your high school equivalency test can seem daunting. But millions of people just like you have earned a diploma! If you’re prepared, you can pass.

To earn a high school equivalency diploma, you need to pass the GED test or HiSET exam, depending on your state. They are big tests. All together, you can spend seven or eight hours taking all the subject tests (although you can take them at different times). It's a thinking marathon!

GED and HiSET, test candidates should prepare just like a runner would train for a marathon. Your studying can be easy, but you need to prep your body and mind. If you’re used to working on your feet and moving around all day, sitting in one place hour after hour could be a challenge. Here are some ways to prepare for the thinking marathon.

Train Your Brain

Make sure your study plan includes a few lengthy study sessions of one or two hours at a stretch. This will give you experience with sitting and thinking over long time periods. If you’re uncomfortable sitting for long periods, be sure to schedule your subject tests on different days. If you have ADHD or a disability, you may be able to get extra breaks during the test.

You can get easy GED and HiSET classes online to prepare. Just as a marathon runner trains the body to long distances, you'll need to practice. You can easily develop concentration techniques to maneuver successfully through the long-distance GED test.

Pace & Persevere

The runner who starts a 26-mile race on a sprint seldom finishes the race. Smart marathoners understand pacing, energy preservation, and perseverance.

Smart GED and HiSET test-takers also need pace themselves over the full test—mentally, physically, and energetically.

  • Start with a free online practice test to find out what you need to study.
  • Use a GED or HiSET study program to prepare.
  • When you think you’re ready, take a full practice test that approximates the test time. This will give you real-time experience with timing and pacing. You’ll be confident that you can pass.

Avoid Brain Drain

You can’t stop the GED test for a 10-minute power nap. But relaxation techniques can be just as effective. You can reduce stress, relax the body and mind, and re-energize.

Try these techniques to see which works best for you:

  • Relax all your muscles for a few moments. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and visualize a pleasant scene.
  • Use mindfulness meditation. A local yoga class or YouTube video can help you learn meditation techniques.
  • Alternate muscular tightening with muscular relaxing. Breathe deeply as you move through muscle groups from toe to head.
  • Try self-hypnosis techniques.

Explore a variety of relaxation methods until you identify one that works for you. It's an excellent skill that will help you avoid brain drain, persevere through the test, and go the distance.

Power Up

A critical part of the athlete's preparation is diet, nutrition, and sleep. These factors are just as important for healthy brains as healthy bodies.

While fast food is convenient, it's not the diet a runner chooses before a marathon. Eat healthy a few days before the test. Make sure your diet includes foods designed for physical and mental stamina. On test day, choose a sustaining breakfast that includes protein. Get plenty of rest, too, so you won't be fatigued at test-time.

Ready to run? Make sure you dress for the test. Wear clothing that's comfortable, with a healthy snack or two in your pocket or purse, if allowed. When test breaks are given, take a real break. Stretch and breathe deeply. Clear your mind, and take a brisk walk. Drink water, and eat a healthy snack if you can.

Don't forget to visualize your goal. Just like the marathoner keeps the focus on the finish line, focus on earning your diploma. Visualizing success is an important motivator, during study time and at test time.


Reid Stanton, Educator


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