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Information About the GED® Test's Structure and Content

By Peterson's Staff updated on Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An overview of the GED® test

If you're over the age of 16, the GED® test provides you with the opportunity to earn a certificate or diploma that is widely recognized as the equivalent of a high school diploma. Many schools will accept GED® test certification for entrance into a college or university program if your GED® test scores are at least equivalent to those of recently graduating high school seniors. Because more than 17 million people have passed their GED® tests since the beginning of the GED® test program in 1942, the chances are that you will blend in quite well on a university campus after you pass your test.

The GED® test is administered only at one of more than 3,400 official GED® test centers around the world; the official GED® test is never given online. There are a few things you might want to include in any GED® test prep you feel you should do, and one of the most important is visiting the GED® test website. There you will be able to find out more about the test, testing locations, and test dates, and requirement you will have to satisfy in order to achieve passing GED® test scores—and your GED® test passing certification.

The GED® test consists of five parts

As the first step in preparing for your GED® test, you should become familiar with the test's structure and content. There are a total of five tests that must be passed before you can earn your GED® test diploma or certificate.

In the Language Arts, Writing test, you will answer multiple-choice questions in which you must identify errors and make corrections in sentence structure, usage, mechanics, and organization. You will also write an essay that presents your opinion and explains your views on a subject or issue of general interest.

During the Social Studies test, you will be tasked with answering multiple-choice questions drawn from history, economics, geography, civics, and government. The test gauges your understanding of the basic principles in each. To do well, you must be able to read passages, cartoons, graphs, and charts. There are different U.S. and Canadian versions of the Social Studies test.

For the Science test, multiple-choice questions are drawn from the fields of life science, earth and space science, and physical science (chemistry and physics). Answering the questions requires a combination of excellent reading skills, specific knowledge, and the ability to interpret scientific data. Data may be presented in paragraph form and in graphs, maps, tables, figures, and charts.

The Language Arts, Reading test includes multiple-choice questions that test your ability to understand the information presented in approximately seven excerpts from newspapers, magazines, novels, short stories, poetry, drama, and business or legal documents. The test covers both fiction and nonfiction materials.

Finally, there's the Mathematics test. There are algebra, measurement, and geometry questions, as well as some that cover number theory, data analysis, and probability. Most are word problems and involve real-life situations or ask you to interpret information presented in graphs, charts, tables, and diagrams. Part I of the exam allows you to use a calculator. A calculator is not used in Part II. The test center will provide the calculator, a Casio fx-260, for your use during the test. If you are going to devote any time to GED® test prep, you might want to become familiar with this calculator's operation. You will also be given a page of math formulas to use during the test, and you will record some of your answers on either standard or coordinate plane grids.

The GED® test has a simple structure

Language Arts, Writing
Question Type Number of Questions
Sentence corrections, revisions, and construction questions 50
Essay question 1
Time Allotted: One 75-minute session, one 45-minute session. Total: 2 hours
Social Studies
Question Type Number of Questions
Multiple-choice 50
Time Allotted: 70 minutes
Science
Question Type Number of Questions
Multiple-choice 50
Time Allotted: 80 minutes
Language Arts, Reading
Question Type Number of Questions
Multiple-choice 50
Time Allotted: 65 minutes
Mathematics
Question Type Number of Questions
Multiple-choice and grid-ins (with calculator) 25
Multiple-choice and grid-ins (without calculator) 25
Time Allotted: Two 45-minute sessions. Total: 90 minutes

The GED® test is administered only at one of more than 3,400 official GED® test centers around the world; the official GED® test is never given online. There are a few things you might want to include in any GED® test prep you feel you should do, and one of the most important is visiting the GED test website. There you will be able to find out more about the test, test contents (including sample questions), testing locations, test dates, and any requirements you will have to satisfy in order to achieve passing GED® test scores—and your GED® test certification.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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