GED (General Educational Development)

What is the GED?

The General Educational Development Test, or GED, measures adult skill levels in four areas of high school academics. The GED test is used as a basis for issuing high school credentials, meaning it is widely accepted as an equivalent to a high school diploma. Over 98% of colleges and 96% of employers accept the GED as equivalent to a high school diploma. The GED test is available in the United States, Canada, and U.S. and Canadian territories.

GED - a short history

GED stands for General Educational Development and is a high school equivalency exam. The first GED tests were administered in 1942 to World War II military personnel who had not graduated from high school. Initiated by the US Armed Forces, the testing program was extremely helpful to war veterans returning to civilian life. In 1947, the GED program was expanded to serve more civilians and non-veteran adults. GED tests have since been widely used as a basis for issuing high school credentials although some states are in the process of utilizing different exams.

With the shift to Common Core Standards happening nationwide, GED Testing Services has also shifted the content of the GED exam to meet these new expectations. The 2014 edition of the GED still provides the opportunity to earn a high school credential, but also measures career and college-readiness skills. Perhaps the most notable change is that the 2014 edition of the GED is now taken on the computer instead of paper-and-pencil*.

*Except where accommodations are available.

Who takes the GED?

GED tests are intended primarily for persons who, for any number of reasons, have missed their first opportunity to complete a high school program of instruction. The GED tests can be administered to those who:

  • Have not graduated from an accredited high school or received a high school equivalency certificate or diploma;
  • Are not currently enrolled in a regular high school;
  • Are at least 16 years of age and out of school (some states require special permissions for testers under 18 years of age);
  • Reside in the state in which they wish to take the test. All GED candidates need to show proof of residency at the time of test registration.

All GED candidates must provide valid identification at the time of registration and again before being admitted to the testing room. Candidates who are not citizens of the United States must meet all of the above requirements, including age requirements and regulations regarding withdrawal from school.

What content is on the GED? What are its different test sections?

The GED is a computer-based exam that consists of four tests, each of which are designed to measure skills and concepts associated with four years of regular high school instruction. Each of the four tests corresponds to the general framework of most high school curricula: Social Studies, Science, Language Arts and Mathematics. Each test is developed by adult and secondary educators and subject matter specialists.

Most test questions require the understanding of broad concepts and generalizations, rather than the ability to recall facts, details, or precise definitions. GED tests use practical and realistic settings in test questions, which adults will recognize and that are relevant to adults' lives.

The following table shows the GED test format:

Test No. of Questions Content Areas Time Allowed
Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA)
  • Reading Comprehension
    • Informational text (75%)
    • Literature (25%)
  • Evidence-based Writing
  • Editing
150 minutes
Mathematical Reasoning
  • Algebraic Problem Solving (55%)
  • Quantitative Problem Solving (45%)
115 minutes
Social Studies
  • Civics and Government (50%)
  • U.S. History (20%)
  • Economics (15%)
  • Geography and the World (15%)
90 minutes
  • Life Science (40%)
  • Physical Science (40%)
  • Earth and Space Science (20%)
90 minutes


In addition to the traditional multiple-choice question format, the 2014 GED has added a number of technology enhanced items and open-ended responses.

Question Type Description Test(s) featuring this question type
Multiple Choice
Test takers are presented with four answer choices to choose from in response to the question. Each multiple choice question has only one correct response.
  • Reading through Language Arts
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Test takers must generate a single-word, short phrase, or numerical answer in response to the question.
  • Reading through Language Arts
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Test takers are given specific items on screen to drag or move to a specific location and drop them. An example of this question type would be ordering a sequence of events from a passage.
  • Reading through Language Arts
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Test takers are given five to eight drop down choices to complete the response.
  • Reading through Language Arts
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Extended Response
Test takers will be given a prompt and asked to support their argument using evidence from the text sources provided.
  • Reading through Language Arts
  • Social Studies
Hot Spot
Test takers select their response by clicking on a graphic or portion of a graphic. An example of this question type would be clicking on a location on a map.
  • Mathematical Reasoning
  • Social Studies
  • Science
Short Answer
Test takers are asked to write a paragraph response to questions related to texts or graphics provided.
  • Science

How long is the GED?

Individuals typically take the tests over two or three consecutive days or over two consecutive weekends. The total GED testing time is approximately 7 hours and 25 minutes.

How do I register for the GED? When is the test offered?

Students must create an account and register online at or call 1-877-EXAM-GED.

How is the GED scored? How often can I take the GED?

Because the 2014 GED is taken on the computer, it will be scored entirely by computer and has a different scoring scale than the 2002 series.

  • Each content area test on the GED is reported on a scale of 100 to 200, with the passing score for each set at 150.
  • Students are required to achieve a passing score of at least 150 on each of the tests in the four content areas in order to receive high school equivalency.
  • Because the tests are scored entirely by computer, complete score reports are available within 3 hours of completing each test.
  • Students who score 170 or higher in a subject area qualify for the GED Score with Honors, which is deemed reflective of college and career readiness.
  • If a student fails any of four content area tests, he or she may retake that test up to three times within a calendar year. If a passing score is still not achieved by the third attempt, the student must wait 60-days before attempting to take the test again.
  • GED Testing Services does not place restrictions on the timeframe for students to complete all four content area tests. However, some states or districts do have specific requirements. Check with the appropriate state for specifics on GED administration and requirements in your area. Information and websites can easily be found by conducting an Internet search for "GED and [state name]".

Interested in preparing for the GED? Huntington can help! Call 1 800 CAN LEARN

Interested in preparing for the GED ?
Huntington can help! Call 1 800 CAN LEARN


©2008-2015 Huntington Mark, LLC, all rights reserved *ACT is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc., SAT and AP are registered trademarks of the College Board, PSAT/NMSQT is a registered trademark of the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation; and none were involved in the production of, or endorses, this product. Huntington Learning Center®, the three-leaf, and 1 800 CAN LEARN® are registered trademarks of Huntington Mark, LLC. Each franchised Huntington Learning Center is operated under a franchise agreement with Huntington Learning Centers, Inc.