About the GED
The GED stands for General Educational Development. It is a series of five tests developed and administered by the American Council on Education. Once someone has successfully passed the General Educational Development, they receive a Certificate of General Educational Development.
The General Educational Development is available to students in the United States, US territories and Canada who have not graduated from high school. Most students who take and pass the General Educational Development are juniors or seniors in high school and at least nineteen. The tests can be taken at testing centers throughout the United States, US territories or Canada.
Using a General Educational Development Certificate
Students who have not yet graduated from high school generally consider the General Educational Development for one of two reasons: to continue their education and get into college, or to get a job that requires a high school diploma. The General Educational Development is widely accepted by employers as an alternative to a traditional high school diploma from an accredited high school.
The majority of colleges in the United States, US territories and Canada accept students who have earned their General Educational Development instead of graduating from high school. However, most colleges do require General Educational Development graduates to also take one of the two major standardized tests for high school students: the SATs or the ACT.
If a student with a General Educational Development wants to get into a college that does not accept it, then they can simply enroll in a community college and transfer from the community college to the desired college after one year (or about 30 credits). General Educational Development graduates with at least a year of college credits can successfully transfer to almost any college in the country, provided they meet the college's other criteria and are accepted by the college's admissions department.
There are two sets of eligibility requirements students need to meet in order to qualify for taking the General Educational Development : national eligibility requirements established by the American Council on Education, and local eligibility requirements established by the jurisdiction (generally state) each student lives in.
The national eligibility requirements from the American Council on Education are listed below:
- Students must be a recognized resident of the jurisdiction they will be taking the General Educational Development in.
- Students must not have earned a high school diploma from an accredited high school.
- Students must not be currently enrolled in an accredited high school.
- Students must be at least 16 years old.
Contents of the General Educational Development Tests
The General Educational Development is a series of five tests covering the different areas of knowledge a student must be competent with in order to graduate from high school. The five test areas are: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science and Math.
The reading test includes 7 sections from various content sources. There are five fiction sections and two nonfiction sections, and each section is approximately three to four hundred words. Students need to read each section, then answer questions about the section that are designed to test how well they understand and can apply the information they just read. There are 40 questions in this test, and students have 65 minutes to finish them.
The writing test includes two components. The first component covers basic grammatical skills such as sentence structure. Students read selected sections from different sources, and then edit the text for proper grammar and structure. There are 50 questions in this part of the test, and students have 75 minutes to finish them.
The second component of the writing test is to choose a topic from some options and write an essay about the topic. There are no specific requirements for the essay, other than it needs to have a defined structure and it needs to follow proper grammar and writing guidelines. Students have 45 minutes to finish the essay (students who finish the first part of the writing test in less than 75 minutes can start on the essay as soon as they finish part one).
The social studies test is designed to test students' knowledge of the standard social studies areas: history (both US and world), government and economics and geography. Students need to read brief sections from different documents and then answer questions about each section. There are 50 questions in this test, and students have 70 minutes to finish them.
The science test is designed to test students' knowledge of general science principles and concepts such as weather or magnetism. Students view a short section of content or a science diagram or graph, then answer questions about it. There are 50 questions in this test, and students have 80 minutes to finish them.
The math test is designed to test students' knowledge of basic mathematical principles and concepts. The math test includes two components: the first component allows students to use a calculator (provided by the testing center) and the second component does not. There are a total of 50 questions in the math test, and students have 90 minutes to finish them.
The General Educational Development was originally developed by the American Council on Education in response to the military's request for a series of tests soldiers could use to prove their knowledge and education level. The original request for the tests was made by the US Armed Forces Institute in 1942, when many soldiers were joining the military before finishing high school.
The idea behind the tests was that soldiers who had joined the military before finishing high school could establish their education level once they returned from service and enter the regular workforce. Without the tests, the only alternative for returning military personnel looking to continue their education was to go back to high school, which was not a realistic option for the majority of them.
Although originally developed for military personnel, the General Educational Development became a popular high school alternative for many students in the fifties, and from the early 1960s through today, most of the students who take the General Educational Development are nonmilitary civilians. The tests have been revised several times since they were first created in 1942 to keep up with the increasing requirements of the modern job market.