Exam Overview: GED Test Prep (page 4)
Planning to take the GED? Here's what you need to know to get started. This article covers the basic information about these important exams. You will learn how the exams are structured, how to register, and how the exams are scored.
Edward dropped out of high school at 16 when his mother became ill and could no longer work or take care of Edward and his younger brother. He began working full time and never finished high school.
Rajesh came to the United States with the equivalent of a tenth-grade education from his native country. He dreamed of becoming a computer programmer but had to work full time. He often worked extra shifts to help make ends meet.
Marie was a certified nurse in her native Caribbean country. But when she immigrated, she found out her nursing certification was not valid in the United States. She could not apply to a U.S. nursing program without a high school diploma.
Today, after taking the GED and earning their high school diplomas, Edward, Rajesh, and Marie—like thousands of others who take the GED each year—are able to pursue the education and careers of their dreams. For more than half a century, the GED diploma has given millions of people the opportunity to find better employment, enroll in colleges and training programs, improve their standard of living, and feel better about themselves and their futures.
What the Tests Are About
The General Educational Development (GED) examination is a series of exams covering the broad range of knowledge and skills students are expected to master in high school. They are exams for people who wish to earn a high school diploma but who have been unable to graduate in the traditional manner. Passing the GED certifies that you have a high school level education and entitles you to a GED diploma, the equivalent of a high school diploma. For hundreds of thousands of people each year, the GED is an important stepping stone to a better job and continued education.
The GED is jointly administered by the General Education Development Testing Service, a program of the American Council on Education (ACE) Center for Adult Learning and Education Credentials, and the education department of each participating state or province. The GED exams are actually a battery of five exams that measure knowledge in five content and skills areas: writing, reading comprehension (understanding literature), social studies, mathematics, and science.
The complete battery of GED exams takes a total of seven hours and five minutes. The level of difficulty is set so that only two-thirds of traditional high school seniors will pass. On average, at least two-thirds of adults who take all five exams earn their diploma, and many states report even higher pass rates.
In many testing centers, you can take the GED one exam at a time until you complete all five exams. In others, you must take the entire battery of exams in one or two sessions.
The questions on the GED are all multiple choice with two important exceptions. Part II of the Language Arts, Writing Test requires you to write an essay, and about 25% of math questions are "alternate format" questions that may include short written responses. You will learn details about each exam, including the specific material covered and the kind of questions to expect, throughout the rest of this book.
Who Takes the GED—and Why
The people who take the GED each year are a very diverse group who come from a rich variety of backgrounds. As different as their situations and experiences may be, their main reasons for taking the GED are the same. Passing the GED:
- enables them to apply to colleges and universities
- allows them to apply for jobs or promotions that require a high school diploma
- demonstrates to others the importance of education
- is a significant accomplishment that improves self-esteem
GED Eligibility Requirements
GED candidates must first meet certain eligibility requirements set by the ACE and participating states and territories. You are eligible to take the GED if you meet the following conditions:
- You are not enrolled in high school AND
- You have not graduated from high school AND
- You have not received or qualified for a high school level equivalency credential.
- You are at least 16 years of age AND
- You meet the requirements of your state, province, or territory regarding age, residency, and the length of time since leaving school.
Testing Centers and Registration
There are approximately 3,400 GED testing centers around the world. These centers are typically operated by local school boards, community colleges, and/or centers for adult education. Test takers outside the United States, Canada, or their territories may be able to take the GED at a Thomson Prometric facility.
Because test centers are run locally, registration procedures, fees, and test times vary. You need to contact the center where you would like to take the exams to find specific registration, fee, and test time information.
If you live inside the United States, Canada, or their territories, you can find the testing center nearest you by:
- Calling 1-800-62-MY-GED OR
- Checking in the blue pages of your local telephone book (look for "GED Testing" under the state department of education listing) OR
- Going to www.acenet.edu/resources/GED/ center_locator.cfm. From there, select your specific area to find out how to contact your local testing center.
If you live outside the United States, Canada, or their territories, you can still take the GED through one of Thomson Prometric's testing centers. Thomson Prometric, in partnership with the ACE, offers a computer-based GED, which was revised as of January 1, 2008. (Note, all partial completed scores taken prior to then are invalid.) If you reside outside the United States, Canada, or their territories and wish to take the online exam, you must be at least 17 years old. Thomson Prometric processes U.S. high school equivalency diploma applications through the Maine Department of Education; diplomas will be issued from the U.S. state of Maine.
For more information on international testing for the GED, contact 866-776-6387 or Thomson Prometric, 1000 Lancaster Street, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21202. Ask for the Regional Registration Center in your country or province. Visit their website at www.prometric.com or email additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thomson Prometric has approximately 200 testing centers around the world.
- Australia/New Zealand
- Latin America/Caribbean
- Middle East/North Africa
- Southeast Asia
Testing centers are open year-round but hours vary from country to country.
Spanish and French Versions of the GED
In addition to the standard English version of the GED, there are also Spanish and French versions, initially developed for Puerto Rico and Canada, respectively. These tests are now authorized for use throughout the United States but may not be available in all areas and are not available at international testing centers (international GED candidates must take the English version). A new version of both the Spanish and French GEDs went into effect on January 1, 2004.
The Spanish GED
The structure and content of the Spanish GED is essentially the same as the English GED, with the important exception that the examples and test questions are based on Spanish language and culture. In the Language Arts, Reading Exam, all excerpts are from Spanish-language writers with an emphasis on writers from the Caribbean and Central and South America. In the Language Arts, Writing Exam, grammar questions focus on issues specific to the Spanish language, such as gender agreement and multiple-object pronouns. The essay is scored by readers whose first language is Spanish or who are secondary or college-level Spanish instructors.
The French GED
The French GED also follows the English GED in format and structure. Like the Spanish GED, it draws its questions and context from French language and culture. Most measurement questions use the metric system. Essays on the French exam are scored by readers whose first language is French or who have taught French at the secondary or college level.
Special testing accommodations are available for GED candidates with documented disabilities that may affect their ability to pass the GED. These accommodations include, but are not limited to:
- testing in English-language Braille
- testing by audiocassette
- large-print test editions
- extended time
- frequent, supervised breaks
- use of a talking calculator or scribe
- private testing rooms
- vision enhancing technologies
- use of video equipment
- use of sign-language interpreter
- one-on-one testing
Dictionaries and spell checkers are not permitted, nor is having someone read the questions aloud to the candidate.
If you need special accommodations to take the GED, request the appropriate form from your local testing center. You may download these forms from www.gedtest.org.
Once you have completed the form and provided the necessary documentation, return the form to your GED testing center. Be sure to request and complete this form well in advance of your test date to allow sufficient time for processing.
GED Testing Fees
Fees for the GED vary widely. In some states, you can take the GED exams at no charge; in others, all testing centers charge the same fee (usually $20–$90); and in others, individual testing centers determine their own fees (also usually $20–$90).
When the Tests Are Offered
Each test center determines when and how often it will offer the GED exams. Some centers may offer the tests only two or three times a year; others offer them much more frequently. Contact your local testing center to see when the tests will be offered. If the dates and times are inconvenient, check other centers nearby. Their offerings may better fit your schedule.
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