What Is A GED and How To Get It

Often, the GED diploma is referred to simply as a “GED,” and a GED diploma is equivalent to a high school diploma. If you didn’t finish high school, you could take 4 GED tests, and when you pass, you will receive a GED diploma. This diploma has the same value as a high school diploma.

The GED test is provided by GED Testing Service and can be taken at a testing center or online (in most states). Onsego helps students prepare for the GED test online.


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The online proctored GED® test can be taken at home. If you pass all four tests, your state will issue your GED diploma.

What are the 4 GED tests?

The GED test consists of 4 separate subject tests that cover Social Studies, Language, Science, and Math.

To pass the GED exam, test-takers need to be well-versed in the subject fields covered in these subjects.

The GED (short for “General Educational Development”) exam is not so much a memorization test; it rather assesses a test-takers ability to reason and understand issues, analyze the given information, draw conclusions based thereupon, and produce relevant and correct answers to the questions.

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How difficult is the GED test?

The GED test is difficult if you expect to pass it without any preparation. But it’s easy if you spend some time getting prepared and practicing it. If you have access to well-designed online GED classes such as Onsego, you can get ready in 2 months. It’s worth taking a prep course to ensure positive results.

Today, most jobs, also at the entry level, require applicants to hold at least a high school or equivalent diploma, and to enroll in college or university, holding a secondary education credential is also required.

So individuals who never graduated from high school can take and pass the four separate, modular GED sub-exams and continue their academic education or use the credential to get a decently-paying job or for job advancement.

The GED diploma offers adults another way to earn an education credential that is all over North America accepted in lieu of a common high school diploma. Practically all colleges, universities, government agencies, and employers recognize a GED in the same way as a high school degree.

Holding the GED diploma will certainly lead to better employment opportunities and helps individuals to attend credit-bearing university and college programs.

  • So holders of a GED credential can enroll in institutions of higher learning and further their education or sign up for professional enrichment courses.
  • Holding a GED will lead to better civil service job opportunities and general employment positions.


Let’s see if we can answer some of the frequently asked questions that are running through so many GED students’ minds.

How long are the GED subtests?

  • The GED Mathematics exam is 115 minutes
  • The GED Language Arts exam is 150 minutes (including a 10-minute break)
  • The GED Science exam is 90 minutes
  • The GED Social Studies exam is 70 minutes

Who qualifies for taking the GED exam?

It is important to realize that the GED exam is a state-specific test. Rules and regulations may vary slightly by state, but in most states counts that the four GED tests can only be administered to persons who:

  • Never graduated from high school
  • Are you not enrolled in another education program
  • Are at least 16 years old though usually, 16 and 17-year-olds are required to meet additional requirements, and in some states, these under-age applicants must enroll in an official state-recognized adult education program and hold permission from their school districts and a parent or guardian
  • Can demonstrate proof of identity through a valid photo ID (e.g., driver’s license, Passport, state identification card, or military ID)

What score is required to pass the GED test?

In order to earn a GED diploma, applicants are required to pass all four GED sub-exams. On each of these modules, the minimally required score is 145. The tests are measured on a 100 to 200 scale, and averaging is no option. Attaining a 145 score is required on each of the four sub-exams. So the overall minimum score is 580.

How to sign up for the GED test?

All GED applicants will have to set up an account with GED.com, the official website of GED Testing Service. Then, they can schedule their tests and pay for the sections they want to take. The four subtests can be taken, if wished, one at a time.

Test-takers must provide their names, date of birth, mailing address, phone number, and email address, and when that’s all done, they can make their testing appointments.

How to schedule the GED exam?

To be able to make test appointments and schedule tests, applicants must log in to their GED accounts and indicate which GED subtest or subtests they want to take. As stated before, the four GED subtests are separate, modular exams that can be taken individually.

Applicants have the option to schedule their tests as soon as possible or, if they prefer, at a later date. You need to indicate your highest grade when you finished your high school curriculum and the reason why you didn’t complete school.

You’ll also be asked about your preparation for the exam, but there’s no requirement to provide your race, gender, social security number, or ethnicity. Those questions are optional, so there’s no need to submit that information.

Must I take all 4 subtests at once?

The four GED sub-exams are modular, independent tests. So you have the option to schedule the 4 GED sub-exams on the same day (if you can find a test center that can facilitate that), but you can also register for the exams one (or more) at a time and on different days.

In practically all states, your test results count for as long as the current edition of the GED exam is used. Only New Mexico requires GED hopefuls to complete the entire GED battery within a 3-year timeframe. Students that schedule two GED sub-exams at the same time will only have a 10-minute break in between the exams.

What is the GED testing fee?

There are four states that offer the GED or HiSET exam at no cost at all to state residents: West Virginia, New York State, Maine, and Connecticut (though here, only students under 21 and veterans test for free; all others pay $13 per subtest).

Then, there are also states to partially subsidize GED testing. In Maryland, for example, each subtest costs $11,25; in Washington DC, each subtest costs only $3.75, while in Arkansas, the four GED modules cost $4 each. We also see that an increasing number of states offer free GED testing to first-time testers. For a full overview by state, check out this page.

In most states, however, if you take the GED exam in person at a test center, each of the four subject-area tests will set you back around $30, so $120 for the full GED battery. Keep in mind that if you take the GED test in an Online Proctored format, it is usually more expensive than taking the four GED sub-exams at a testing center.

Where can I take the GED exam?

You can take the GED exam online or in person at a traditional test center. Both options must be scheduled through the MyGED portal in your GED account. To qualify for taking the four sub-exams online, you’ll first have to reach scores in the “green” (likely to pass) range of the GED Ready official practice test. You can purchase the GED Ready® test (one for each subtest) at GED.com for $6.99 each.

Can I take the GED exam online?

Yes, the GED exam can be taken online or at a state-designated GED test center. To be eligible for online testing. however, you not only need to attain sufficient results on the GED Ready tests, but you also must meet more requirements, for example:

  • The testing room must be quiet and private
  • You must have a reliable internet connection
  • Your computer must have a webcam, microphone, and sound
  • The online proctor will carefully check your identity and inspect your testing environment
  • You’ll also need to run a thorough system test on your computer

Please note that three states do not offer online GED testing: Vermont, South Carolina, and New York.

Can I take the GED exam in person?

Yes, in all states that use the GED exam for high school equivalency (HSE) testing, you have the option to take the four GED sub-exams in person at a state-approved test center.

When you log in to your GED account and want to register for (one or more of) the GED subtests, you can choose a test center in your area. When you have chosen the test center, you can select one of the available days and times.

Can I take the GED exam in Spanish?

Yes, you can. The four GED sub-exams are available in both English and Spanish at all GED test centers or online. But mind you, the default language when scheduling your tests is English, so make sure to select Spanish for your tests.

Can I retake the GED exam?

If you fail a GED subject test, you are allowed to retake that section two times without time restrictions. But if you fail that subtest for the third time, there will be a 60-day waiting time before you can retake that subject test.

GED testing accommodations

GED candidates with physical disabilities or learning challenges can request modifications of the testing conditions based on their special needs. Proof and documentation are required, and the application process might take 6 weeks or longer, so make sure to apply in a timely manner.

For a brighter future

Obtaining your GED diploma gives you the opportunity to work toward a brighter future, and many companies offer tuition reimbursement initiatives to help you make the grade. It will take some effort to get well-prepared for the exam, but once you’ve for your GED, you qualify for higher-paying jobs, and you have the chance to further your education as well.

Many companies offer their employees incentives to continue their academic education, and a great example is Amazon’s Career Choice initiative which allows the retail giant’s workers to earn a college degree from more than 180 colleges and universities at the company’s expense.

Prepare well for the GED exam

Getting optimally prepared for the GED exam is critical. The GED test is a rather challenging assessment, and especially test-takers that haven’t seen a school from the inside for a long time will have to devote some time to studying for the exam.

Nowadays, when preparing for the GED exam, you can take advantage of some well-structured online resources to get you all set for the General Education Development exam efficiently and fast.

The passing criteria for the GED exam are set at such a challenging level that around 40 percent of all graduating high school seniors will not be able to score sufficient results on the exam! So be sure to select a credible, accredited online prep course and get on track towards success.

How long do I need to get my GED?

How long you will need to earn your GED diploma depends mainly on your education, your skill level, and the amount of time you are prepared to devote to studying. Read more here.

On average, however, we see that students will require 2 to 3 months to get all set, though students that are spending more time can get ready for the real thing faster. It all depends on how prepared you are. If you think you are ready for one of the GED sub-exams, we advise you to take the GED Ready test for that section. This practice test is the only test that can predict if you will be successful on that GED sub-exam.