GED stands for "General Education Development" test offered through each state's education system. This article explains what the GED is and provides useful sources for people seeking a GED or considering doing so. The GED is designed as an alternative means to attain the outcomes of the education typically procured in a Canadian or United States high school can be demonstrated he GED Testing Service, which is responsible for the reliability of the test, is a program of the American Council on Education (ACE). Together with each state, territory, or province, and the 3,400 Official GED Testing Centers worldwide, ACE continues this program.

There are five parts to the test, all in multiple-choice format, plus a timed essay on an assigned topic. The five parts are:
  • Language Arts, Writing, Part I
  • Language Arts, Writing, Part II (essay)
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Language Art, Reading
  • Mathematics

The questions are classified using Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, and include questions that require the skills of comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

There is a time limit for each section, with the essay being limited to 45 minutes, and the others varying between 65 and 90 minutes. The time limit for the entire test is 425 minutes (7 hours, 5 minutes). A passing score is one that places the candidate in the top 60% of graduating high school seniors, as established by a random sample test of graduating high school seniors that is given regularly.

GED Certificate

GED also refers to the certificate given to someone who passes the test. The GED is a high school equivalency assessment and can be used in place of a high school diploma in various situations. For example, many colleges accept the GED in place of a high school diploma when considering candidates for admission. In addition, some colleges require home-schooled students to take the GED to show their accomplishments in a standardized way.

In addition, some jobs will accept a GED credential in place of a high school diploma, and some employers help improve their employees' abilities by sponsoring their participation in a GED program.

The History of the GED

Developed in 1942 to assist World War II veterans returning to civilian life to finish their studies, the first GED tests have continued to be an alternative way to measure the academic achievement expected of graduating high school seniors for those who took an alternative path.

Since its inception, an estimated 15.2 million people have attained a GED for the sake of further education or employment. Current figures show that about 1 in 7 high school diplomas issued each year in the United States is based on passage of the GED tests. In addition, GED graduates make up about 1 in 20 first-year college students.

How to Find Out More About the GED

Each state has a GED administrator, usually located in the state's department of education. This person can provide information about GED policies and procedures, eligibility, and testing centers within the state. Local test centers can be found by using the test center locator (by ZIP code) on the ACE site. The sources below may also prove useful.

Sources for this article

The College Board: Glossary of Terms

American Council on Education

What are the GED Tests?

Test Specification and Construction

GED Information for Education and Testing Professionals

Employers of Choice

Find a GED® Testing Center