General Educational Development (G.E.D.): What Is It?
Many Americans who did not earn a high school diploma may choose to take the General Educational Development (GED) test to improve their post-secondary and employment opportunities. The GED test is available in every state, and it is usually administered by the state's adult basic education program.
What is the GED?
The General Educational Development (GED) exam is a group of five tests meant to assess an individual's knowledge of academic subjects typically taught in high school. Test takers who pass all five sections will earn a certificate of completion from the state where the test was held. This certificate is regarded by many employers and higher education institutions as an equivalent of a high school diploma.
The GED test is administered by each state, which designates the location of testing centers, times and dates. The American Council on Education (ACE) created and oversees the GED content (acenet.edu). The GED consists of five subject areas: Writing, Social Studies, Science, Reading and Math. Each section has a time limit. The average number of questions per section is 50, with the exception of an essay component that is part of the Writing section. According to ACE, the GED test cannot be taken online and individuals should be wary of any website that claims to offer the official GED test online.
History of the GED
The GED program began in 1942 when the U.S. Department of Defense partnered with ACE to develop a battery of general education tests based from high school curriculum. The tests were for military personnel and veterans who had enlisted prior to finishing their high school education. Passing these tests gave these service members an academic credential that could then be used to help gain entry into college or to obtain a job.
In 1947, the state of New York became the first state to make the GED test available to non-veteran civilians and to have it be an equivalent to the Regent's Diploma, a credential normally given to adults attending night school to obtain their high school diploma. By 1974, all 50 states were awarding GED credentials to non-veteran civilians. ACE has revised the GED test four times, and plans future revisions as individual, employment and academic needs evolve.
Where to take the GED
GED testing sites and study centers are located in every state, with information available on each state's Department of Education homepage. ACE also has a list of testing centers. Most testing centers are at colleges, universities, public schools or community centers. Some states have numerous GED sites, while others may have only a few at centralized locations.
How to Take the GED
To take the GED, a student should first prepare for the exam. Many GED programs and ACE offer a pre-test meant to gauge readiness. The pre-test may have a fee and it may vary from one state to the next. In some states, a pre-test is mandatory.
Students will then need to contact the official GED testing center in the area in which they live. All states have residency requirements for the GED. Being able to prove residency, age and lack of a secondary school credential are needed to register for the test. Some states allow students to test one section at a time, while others require the entire battery of sections be completed within two or three testing sessions.
Students with disabilities or native speakers of a non-English language may request accommodations through their state's official GED program or by using the form found in the 'GED Test Takers' page on the ACE website. The GED is generally available in English, Spanish, French, large print and Braille. There are plans to add more languages. The costs of the GED varies by state; some states offer the test for free.
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