How to Get a GED: a Step-by-Step Process to Earn a GED
Successful completion of the General Educational Development exam leads to a high school equivalency credential for individuals who do not have a high school diploma. A GED credential can be used to pursue a college education or career advancement.
Steps To Taking the GED Exam
The American Council on Education developed the General Educational Development (GED) exam (www.acenet.edu). Although the GED isn't the same as a high school diploma, individuals can use it as an equivalent credential for employment or secondary education purposes. Approximately 95% of U.S. colleges and universities and 96% of employers will accept the GED in place of a high school diploma, according to ACE.
Step 1: Review Your State's Requirements
You must be at least 16 years old to take the GED test. You should not be enrolled in high school or have a diploma or other secondary school credential. Each state has its own requirements for taking the GED. Policies that vary by state include testing fees, preparatory courses and the GED Official Practice Exam. You can find out your state's individual requirements on the ACE website or on your state's official website.
Step 2: Prepare for the Exam
The GED exam is made up of five subject tests, including mathematics, reading, writing, science and social studies. GED test scores range from 200 to 800 for each section. You must achieve a score of at least 410 on any one test, but your total score must add up to at least 2250. ACE recommends that candidates study for the exams, because your score needs to compare to 60% of what current high school seniors would score. Various resources are available to help you prepare for the GED.
You can find in-class GED preparation courses by checking with your local GED testing center. The ACE website provides a listing of GED preparation contacts. You may also visit the American Literacy Director locator and enter your location to find programs in your area (www.literacydirectory.org). You can check phonebook listings under adult education, continuing education or literacy programs. High schools or community colleges may also offer classes.
Study at Home or Online
You can access free practice test questions and answers online through the ACE website. PBS Literacy Link is a GED course that utilizes online, video and Internet resources (www.pbs.org/literacy). You can purchase GED workbooks from Steck-Vaughn Adult Education, as well as test yourself with practice questions from the GED Official Pretest (steckvaughnadult.hmhco.com). Other reliable home study resources may be found on your state's official GED site.
Step 3: Register for the Exam
The GED is not offered online and can be taken only at an official test center. Testing centers are located in every state, in all U.S. territories and internationally. You can find a list of U.S. test locations on the ACE website and for international locations on the Prometrics website (www.prometric.com ).
You may have to register in person at your testing center, but check your state's official GED website to see if you can preregister online or download forms for mailing. In addition to a fee, if applicable, you may also need to present a government-issued ID, your Social Security number and proof of local residence.
Step 4: Take the Test
The GED takes about seven hours to complete. Depending on your state or test center, you may not have to take all of the tests in one sitting. Also, some locations offer evening testing. Contact your test administrator for testing options.
Test-takers with special needs have options available to them. Special accommodations can also be made for individuals with hearing or vision impairments, or with certain learning disorders. Special accommodations request forms are available at your test center and on the ACE website. Non-native English speakers can take the test in Spanish or French, depending on what's available in their state. Some jurisdictions may require these individuals take a GED English as a Second Language (ESL) exam.
Step 5: After the Test
To find out your scores, you need to get in touch with the local testing center where you took the GED test. Individuals who tested while in the military, incarcerated, in the U.S Job Corps or outside of the U.S., need to fill out a transcript request form on the ACE website or contact the appropriate organization.
If You Didn't Pass
All states and jurisdictions allow individuals to retake some or all of the tests. Determine the waiting period before you can retake the test. You may be required to take a test preparation course before repeating the exam.
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