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For adults who don’t have a high school diploma, taking the GED exam is a common step in the process to obtaining a higher paying job or getting into college. While it’s not the only option for taking a high school equivalency exam, GED.com proudly states that “97% of colleges and employers accept the GED credential,” and “graduates can earn $9,000 more per year on average,” making it a tempting option for test-takers. But how can working adults with families juggle studying for the GED exam along with all their other responsibilities? Here are some tips to help you balance studying, family, and work commitments. 

What is the GED? 

The General Equivalency Diploma (GED) is a standardized exam used to measure high school equivalency. The test consists of four subject areas: Mathematical Reasoning, Reasoning Through Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science. While the thought of taking a standardized exam could seem overwhelming to someone who has been out of school for a while, rest assured that you don’t need to pass the whole exam in one sitting. Each subject area serves as a separate exam. If needed, a test-taker may retake a single section of the exam instead of repeating the entire test. 

Breaking down barriers 

Each year, thousands of students choose to leave high school without earning a degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “Between October 2016 and October 2017, the number of 15- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. who left school without obtaining a high school credential was approximately 523,000.” Generally, these former students will enter the workforce directly upon their high school exit or begin caring for children. By the time an individual is ready to tackle preparing for the GED exam they may have additional responsibilities on their plate.

“Adult learners come from a variety of backgrounds and have a number of reasons for not completing high school. Many of these same personal challenges including health issues, family obligations, financial hardships, and other circumstances are still present when they are preparing for the GED exam. Adult learners often successfully overcome a number of obstacles in their journey to earning a GED credential,” said CT Turner, Vice President of GED Testing Service.

Preparing for the GED exam used to involve the obstacle of physically attending review classes. Fortunately, the addition of online test prep solutions, like Petersons.com, now provides test-takers with the flexibility to review material when they want, where they want. Even with work and family commitments, online and mobile test prep courses make it possible for busy adults to adequately prepare for test day.

Study tips

If you’re gearing up to take the GED exam, you may be wondering how far in advance you should begin studying.

How long a student prepares for the GED test subjects varies on a case-by-case basis. Some students have more background in the test subjects than others and may be able to complete the test requirements with less preparation. On average, GED students earn their credential in three months,” said Turner.

Peterson’s recommends students start preparing for an exam at least six weeks in advance. Use study tools like flashcards and videos to help determine your strengths and weaknesses within a subject area. And don’t underestimate the power of practice tests. Peterson’s GED digital test prep comes with three full-length exams that you can retake as many times as you’d like. Take one at the beginning of your test prep journey to establish a baseline of how far you’ll need to come before exam day. Periodically check in with your progress by taking the remaining exams. 

Need more review material? Check out Peterson’s Master the GED Test 2020.

Get the kids involved

Reducing distractions is a frequent piece of advice given to test-takers studying for a big exam. But for many adults with children, study time often overlaps with family time. Get the kids involved by studying or doing homework together. Use the experience as a teaching moment by explaining the importance of working toward a goal. To help lighten your load at home, encourage the family to act as a team by asking the kids to help with chores like setting the table or folding laundry. 

Short-term pain, long-term gain

Spending your spare time studying for a test may not be your favorite past-time, but it’s important to remember why you’re doing it. If you find yourself losing steam, think about your long-term goals and remind yourself of how the GED credential will help you get into college or stay competitive in the job market. The addition of studying may make your schedule feel busier than normal, but it won’t last forever. 

Have other questions about the GED exam? Check out our GED Mythbusting video below:

Ready to take the next step? Create a personalized study plan with Peterson’s test prep. Officially content-aligned by the GED Testing Service, practice tests include detailed results for continued improvement and in-depth answer explanations for each question.

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