High School Diploma vs GED

There are no differences between a high school diploma and a GED diploma when it comes to chances of getting a job or being accepted into college.

Most employees and educational organizations see your GED diploma as equivalent to a high school diploma.


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The main difference between a high school diploma and a GED is that a high school diploma is awarded to a student for completing a particular course or program.

On the other hand, a GED is a test that measures a person’s academic skills and knowledge

A high school diploma is a document issued to a student for completing a specific educational program of usually four years provided by a public or private high school.

A GED® (General Education Development) diploma is issued to students that pass four GED tests that measure a person’s academic skills and knowledge in the areas of language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics. GED testing is available at certified test centers and online, and there are states that require GED test-takers to be state residents to take the GED test online.

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But there are more differences. Let’s take a closer look:

Main Differences

1. A high school diploma is awarded upon completion of a prescribed course of study at a public or private high school, while a GED is an alternative to a high school diploma and is offered to individuals who have not completed a traditional high school program.

2. A high school diploma is accepted by colleges, universities, and employers as evidence of a basic educational background, while a GED is accepted as an equivalent to a high school diploma by most, but not all, colleges, universities, and employers.

3. A high school diploma is earned over the course of four years of study, while a GED is obtained by passing a series of tests in four subject areas.

4. A high school diploma is awarded to a student by their high school, while a GED is awarded by their state or jurisdiction.

5. A high school diploma has long been typically more valuable than a GED in terms of finding employment and pursuing higher education. Today, however, with the computer-based, improved GED test, that stigma is disappearing rapidly.

6. Branches of the Military still prefer high school graduates over GED recipients. GED grads are required to attain higher scores on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) than their high school counterparts.

For success on the GED exam, it is crucial that you take multiple practice tests. Onsego offers a full online GED prep course with many practice tests. By taking practice tests, you will discover your weaker points so you can work on those more than on the topics you already know.

Two Different Types Of Credentials

A high school diploma and a GED are two different types of credentials that are used to demonstrate a student’s academic achievement.

A diploma is a document that is awarded to a student who has successfully completed a high school program. In order to receive a diploma, a student must complete a set of required courses and pass all necessary tests. The GED test can be taken year-round at numerous testing facilities and online.

A diploma often carries a certain amount of prestige, as it is considered to be evidence of an individual’s hard work and dedication to their studies.

A GED, on the other hand, is a credential that is awarded to individuals who have passed a series of tests that measure their knowledge and skills in the areas of language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

Unlike a high school diploma, in most states, a GED does not require a student to complete any courses or pass any tests prior to taking the exam, except when the test is taken online.

The GED is a challenging assessment, but if you prepare properly, it shouldn’t be that hard to pass. It is primarily used by individuals who did not complete high school and are looking to demonstrate their academic abilities.

While a GED is still often not seen as prestigious as a diploma, it is a valuable credential that can be used to gain admission to college, find employment, or for job advancement.

Onsego offers you an accredited, full GED prep course, and if you sign up for the “Advantage” plan, you will additionally receive four free GED Ready tests, the official practice tests from GED Testing Service that indicate if you are likely to pass the real thing or that more preparation is required.

If you take a GED Ready test (there’s actually one for each GED sub-exam), you will also get your “Skills To Improve Report” from GED Testing Service that you can link with your Onsego account to see which Onsego lessons you should take to boost your score!

Four GED Subject Tests

Students must pass four independent GED subject tests in order to receive a GED certificate or diploma. States decide whether they issue certificates or diplomas.

The four GED subject tests are separate, modular exams that students can take one or more at a time and in any order they want.

As said before, the four exams cover the academic areas of mathematics, social studies, science, and language arts (writing and reading combined).

The exams are scored on a 100 – 200 scale, and on each sub-exam, students are required to attain at least a 145 score to pass that subject test.

The GED subtests can be taken in an online format (the Online Proctored GED exam) or at state-certified GED testing centers.

Most states do not require GED testers to first attend a prep course or reach sufficient results on a practice test, but to be able to take the GED test online, candidates must first reach passing scores on the official GED Ready® practice test.

So a main difference between the two is that a high school diploma requires a student to attend classes and participate in specific courses in order to be awarded a diploma, while a GED does not require any specific courses in most states.

Also, a high school diploma typically includes a grade point average, while a GED does not. Finally, the time frame for obtaining a diploma is usually much longer than obtaining a GED. A diploma may take several years to complete, whereas a GED can be completed in a few months.