Everything You Need to Know About the GED Test

Everything You Need to Know About the GED Test

By Sharon Wilfong

Published on September 1, 2021

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The General Educational Development (GED) test is a suite of exams that test-takers can pass to earn a GED diploma (sometimes referred to as a GED certificate). This certificate can take the place of a traditional high school diploma.

Individuals may be interested in earning a GED certificate because most workplaces require potential employees to have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Adults who didn't finish high school can meet that requirement by passing the GED exam.

Test-takers must score at least 145 points in each of the four subject tests to pass. Achieving even higher scores indicates college readiness.

What Is the Structure of the GED Test?

The GED exam is taken on a computer and covers four subjects: mathematical reasoning, reasoning through language arts, social studies, and science. Each subject requires a separate test. You don't have to take them all at once.

Mathematical Reasoning

This GED exam consists of two parts. You have 115 minutes to complete it, including two minutes for instruction, a three-minute break between sections, and a final review. You can use a calculator reference sheet and math formula sheet. You can also use a calculator during the second part of the exam.

  • Basic math
  • Geometry
  • Basic algebra
  • Graphs and functions
Time 115 minutes
  • Two parts
  • Fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, multiple-choice, select-an-area, and dropdown questions
  • Reference sheet and math formula sheet allowed
  • A calculator is allowed in part two

Reasoning Through Language Arts

The language arts exam is 150 minutes long, including three minutes for instruction and a final review. There are three parts, with a 10-minute break between parts two and three. Questions for two sections of the test include multiple choice, drag and drop, select an area, and dropdown menus. The remaining section is a written essay and lasts 45 minutes.

  • Reading for meaning
  • Identifying and creating arguments
  • Grammar and language
Time 150 minutes
  • Three parts
  • Drag-and-drop, multiple-choice, select-an-area, and dropdown questions
  • A written essay

Social Studies

The social studies portion is 70 minutes long without a break. It includes two minutes of instructions and a final review. Questions for this test use numbers and graphs, multiple choice, fill in the blank, drag and drop, and dropdown menus. You can use a calculator and calculator reference sheet.

  • Reading for meaning in social studies
  • Using numbers and graphs in social studies
  • Analyzing historical events and arguments in social studies
Time 70 minutes
  • One part
  • Fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, multiple-choice, select-an-area, and dropdown questions
  • Calculator and reference sheet allowed


This exam lasts 90 minutes, with two minutes of instructions, a final review, and no break. Covered topics include reading for meaning in science, designing and interpreting science experiments, and using numbers and graphics in science. A calculator and calculator reference sheet are allowed.

  • Reading for meaning in science
  • Designing and interpreting science experiments
  • Using numbers and graphics in science
Time 90 minutes
  • One part
  • Fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, multiple-choice, select-an-area, and dropdown questions
  • Calculator and reference sheet allowed

How Much Does the GED Test Cost?

Each state determines the cost for the GED exam. You can use the GED testing service's search tool to find out about test costs and state rules. Each subject test usually costs $30-$40, but some states offer tests for free.

You can also create an account to find out which companies participate in the GEDWorks program, which provides GED test assistance for working adults.

What Is a Good GED Score?

You can pass the GED exam by achieving a score of at least 145 points in each subject. Typically, the math exam is the most challenging. If you score under 145 in any subject, you can retake that test.

Retesting is also an option if you want to try to score higher to get into college. Scores from 165-174 indicate you're ready for college-level courses. If you achieve a score of 175-200, you could qualify for up to three college credits in math, science, and social studies and one credit in humanities.

It's essential to do some GED practice before test day. Ultimately, higher scores can save you time and money if you want to attend college.

How to Prepare for the GED Test

GED test prep is key to success. After all, GED scores can impact your education beyond simply passing to get the certificate. If you want to attend college, a GED diploma could be the first step in that direction.

But how do you study for the GED test? First, check the testing dates and locations in your area so you can make a plan. Then, create a study schedule.

You can begin GED prep a few months in advance to allow plenty of time to study each subject. For example, with GED Flash, you gain access to GED practice questions and answers in the math, language arts, social studies, and science sections.

If possible, start by making a dedicated study space at home where you can focus. Stock it with helpful school and study supplies, including a calculator, timer, pen and paper, noise-canceling headphones, snacks, and drinks. Once you feel prepared, you can take the official GED practice test before committing to the graded exam.

Many employers also participate in the GEDWorks program, which helps employees pass their GED exam and earn a GED diploma. The program assists working adults by providing academic guidance and support from advisors.

Can You Take the GED Test Online?

The GED test is available online in every state that offers GED testing, with the exception of Hawaii. Test-takers in this state must go to an official GED testing center. For many, taking the GED online at home can help ease anxiety. For others, using the technology may prove challenging.

The exam requires a government-issued ID to begin testing. Because an online proctor conducts the tests, a webcam and reliable internet connection are also required. Additionally, the room where you're taking the test must have a closeable door so there aren't any distractions.

While you don't need to take a practice test ahead of in-person exams, you must take a GED Ready practice test and score a "Green" within 60 days of testing online. Note that the system doesn't allow as many repeat attempts online as in person if you don't pass on your first try. Getting a "Green" score on GED Ready means you'll likely pass the test the first time.

What Do You Need for GED Test Day?

To be successful on test day, you need to prepare the night before by eating right and getting enough sleep. On the day of the exam, it may be helpful to wake up early, do something physical to get yourself in the right frame of mind, and go over your notes.

Make sure to double-check the exam time and gather your supplies the night before, including the following:

On the day of the test, make sure to do the following:

Keep in mind that you need to check into the testing center at least 15 minutes early. Avoid drinking alcohol the night before and get plenty of rest. If you're more than 15 minutes late, you might not get to take the test.

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