What Questions are on the GED® Test?
It’s important to be prepared to take a high school equivalency test like the GED or HISET test. One of the best ways to prepare is with practice questions. Practice questions give you real knowledge of what to expect on the test.
Are the Questions Different on the GED Test and HiSET Exam?
Depending on your state, you’ll take one of two high school equivalency tests: the GED or HiSET. Although some of the content will be slightly different, these tests are similar in many ways.
- They have mostly multiple choice questions.
- They focus on critical thinking skills—the ability to read, understand, evaluate, and analyze.
- They require you to evaluate images, graphs, and charts as well as text.
- The writing tests have an essay where you read a passage and write about it.
- The math tests require basic math skills, algebra, geometry, and statistics.
The GED Test is a computer-based test (unless you have an accommodation for disabilities). It includes some drop-down questions, drag-and-drop questions, and other question types that can only be done on computers. The HiSET Exam is entirely multiple-choice, except for the essay. Some knowledge of computers helps to prepare for computer-based tests.
Many test-takers are concerned about the math test. It doesn’t have to be intimidating. The most important skills are basic math: fractions, decimals, multiplying, dividing. Make sure you have a strong foundation. Brush up on any skills that you haven’t used in a while! Then, you’ll need some basic algebra, geometry, statistics, and probability. Most people use a study program to refresh these skills. Remember, you don’t need to get every question right, but you do need to be familiar with high school math concepts.
Here is a sample math practice question:
A recipe for punch requires mixing 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 5 cups of apple juice. Which of the following would have the same ratio?
- Mixing 1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice and 7.5 cups of apple juice
- Mixing 6 tablespoons of lemon juice and 10 cups of apple juice
- Mixing 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 4 cups of apple juice
- Mixing 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2.5 cups of apple juice
This is a question about ratios. The ratio in the recipe is 3 tablespoons to 5 cups. To get an equivalent ratio, you need to either multiply both numbers by the same amount, or divide both numbers by the same amount. Answer 2 multiplies both numbers by 2, so it gives an equivalent ratio: 6 tablespoons to 10 cups.
A little bit of study can help remind you of the math you know and fill in the gaps. Try a free practice test to build a study plan for your math skills.
On the writing test, you’ll have two types of questions: language questions and the essay question. The language questions are usually multiple choice or drop-down questions. You’ll need to find mistakes in sentences and choose the correct way to fix or complete sentences. These questions cover grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, word use, and general language knowledge. You’ll also find organization questions, where you need to choose sentence order, paragraph order, or the best sentence to fill in a blank.
Here is a sample language practice question:
Did you find out whether she wants to go out to dinner or seeing a movie?
What is the best change to the underlined portion?
- No change
- she wants going out to dinner or seeing a movie
- she wants to go out to dinner or see a movie
- she wants to go out to dinner or she wants to see a move
The best phrasing is, “Did you find out whether she wants to go out to dinner or see a movie?” This avoids repetition and has correct, parallel terms. When you see a question like this one, try reading each choice aloud, in the sentence. Which one sounds best? Which sounds most natural?
Many test-takers worry about the essay portion. But the essay on is not as difficult as it might seem! You’ll need to:
- Read a passage.
- Write an essay about the passage, citing evidence from the text.
- Have a main idea in the first paragraph and stay on topic.
- Write details in the middle paragraphs.
- Have a conclusion in your last paragraph.
- Make your writing easy to understand.
With a little bit of practice, most people can improve their essays quickly.
For the writing test, you’ll probably need to brush up on some language and writing skills. The best way to find out which exact skills you need is to take a practice test.
Reading is one of the most important skills on a high school equivalency exam. You’ll use reading on the writing, science, and social studies tests, and of course, the reading test. Studying reading is a great way to boost your overall scores.
For reading questions, you’ll need to read a passage and answer several questions about it. Passages will include both fiction and nonfiction. You might find questions about word use, characters and plot, organization of ideas, main ideas, and details. Try a free practice test to get a more complete picture of the skills you’ll need.
Although the passages are usually longer, here is a sample reading practice question:
Excerpt from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
In this excerpt, Tom and his friends have spent the night on an island in the Mississippi River after running away from town.
Tom stirred up the other pirates and they all clattered away with a shout, and in a minute or two were stripped and chasing after and tumbling over each other in the shallow limpid water of the white sandbar. They felt no longing for the little village sleeping in the distance beyond the majestic waste of water. A vagrant current or a slight rise in the river had carried off their raft, but this only gratified them, since its going was something like burning the bridge between them and civilization.
In this passage, who are the “pirates”?
- Tom and his friends
- The antagonists chasing Tom
- The inhabitants of the island
- The people of the little village
When Tom “stirred up the other pirates,” he was waking his friends for a morning romp in the river. Tom and his friends consider themselves playfully “pirates,” rebelling against civilization. The passage contains no antagonists, inhabitants of the island, or people from the village.
Science and Social Studies Questions
Both the science and social studies tests require basic subject knowledge. You’ll need to be familiar with experiments and data for the science test. For social studies, some history, economics, and geography helps. You should be familiar with documents like the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
But the most important skills you need are reading and critical thinking skills. You’ll need to read about science and social studies and answer questions. You’ll need to understand evidence: how to evaluate it and how to use it. Fortunately, these critical thinking skills aren’t that hard to build. A little preparation will help.
Here is a sample social studies practice question:
Three of the following statements about the assassination of President Lincoln are based on direct evidence. Which statement is mainly based on inference and conclusions, not direct evidence?
- Lincoln gave his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, just over one month before his death on April 14 of that year.
- John Wilkes Booth, the assassin who shot Lincoln, was born in Maryland in 1838.
- If Lincoln had not died, he could have controlled the Radical Republicans, resulting in a more unifying reconstruction.
- John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in the head with a .44 caliber Derringer pistol during a performance of the play “Our American Cousin.”
This question tests your knowledge of evidence. Three of the answers are facts. They are based on direct evidence that can be verified. The dates of Lincoln’s inaugural address and his death are well documented. So are the specifics of the assassination and Booth’s birthplace. However, what might have happened if Lincoln hadn’t died is not a fact. It’s a conclusion based on evidence. It might be a good conclusion based on strong evidence, but it’s still a conclusion.
Once you’re familiar with the questions on the GED test and other HSE exams, you’ll be able to target your studying. That makes preparation quicker and easier. Pretty soon, you’ll be ready to pass!
Molly Sciarra, Educator