What is the GED

What is the GED?

The GED® test is a widely used examination that demonstrates high school equivalency as well as college and career readiness. It includes the reading, writing, thinking, and problem-solving skills needed for postsecondary educational programs and for the world of work. This means that your high school equivalency diploma is not an end in itself—it is the springboard to more education, to better-paying jobs, and to more rewarding career paths.


Take Four Subtests in Four Content Areas

Reasoning through Language Arts2.5 hours (one 10-minute break)Roughly 50–55 questions; includes 1 extended written response to reading passages; takes up to 45 minutes
Mathematical Reasoning1 hour, 55 minutesRoughly 40–45 questions; first section—5 questions, no calculator allowed; second section—calculator allowed (Texas Instruments TI-30XS MultiViewTM calculator)
Social Studies1 hour, 10 minutesRoughly 30–35 questions
Science1.5 hoursRoughly 30–35 questions; includes 2 short-answer written responses to passages and/or graphics; up to 10 minutes each


[ GOOD TO KNOW: Who should take the GED? ]

Respond to Seven Computer-Based GED Question Formats

To test a range of skills, the GED® test uses a variety of computer-based question formats. About the Test sections. When you take the test, you will use these question formats:

  • Multiple-Choice

    Click to choose from four choices (A through D)

  • Fill-in-the-Blank

    Type a word, a phrase, or numbers in a box

  • Drag-and-Drop

    Move words, numbers, or objects across the computer screen

  • Drop-Down

    Select from menus embedded in text on the computer screen

  • Hot Spot

    Click on graphics on the computer

  • Short-Answer

    Write a paragraph or two of explanation in response to passages or graphics or a combination of the two

  • Extended Response

    Compose a well-developed and supported response to passages or graphics or a combination of the two

Read and Write Throughout the GED Test

You will read and interpret passages and word problems on all four tests. In addition, two out of four subtests (Reasoning through Language Arts and Science) require that you read a passage or two, and compose a response about what you have read.

The type of writing that you will use is called evidence-based writing, which means that you need to cite specific evidence from the readings in your response. This is a key characteristic of the type of writing that is required in workplaces and in educational programs. 

Perform Math Skills Throughout the GED Test

In addition to the questions on the Mathematical Reasoning Test, math items also appear on the Science Test and the Social Studies Test. On all three of these tests, you may use either a hand-held or an on-screen version of the Texas Instruments TI-30XS MultiViewTM calculator to use with math items. If you wish to use a hand-held version of the calculator, you may need to take one with you on test day. You can buy this calculator at stores that carry office and school supplies and through online vendors.


Use the GED Testing Service® MyGEDTM Internet Portal

MyGEDTM is a personalized online program that will be your entry point to all test activities, including scheduling testing and retesting (if necessary), viewing score reports, ordering transcripts and your diploma, and investigating your next steps in making the transition to college or to a career.

Understanding your GRE score

Scoring of the GED® test works as follows:

  • Scoring is based on the number of points a test-taker earns in each section rather than on the number of questions the test-taker gets correct. Different questions have different point values. For example, questions in which a test-taker is asked to fill in two blanks or choose options from two drop-down menus are worth two points.
  • Point values do not correspond to Depth of Knowledge levels.
  • The number of questions a test-taker will see on test day may vary from one form of the test to another. What remains the same across different test forms is the number of points on each test. The total number of points available on each test is as follows:
    • Reasoning Through Language Arts: 65 raw points
    • Mathematical Reasoning: 49 raw points
    • Social Studies: 44 raw points
    • Science: 40 raw points
  • The number of points a test-taker earns is translated into a scaled score, on a scale of 100 to 200 for each subject test:
175-200: GED® College Ready + Credit
165-174: GED® College Ready
145-164: pass / high school equivalency
100-144: below passing


[ RELATED: How is the GRE scored? ]

For more detail on passing score standards, visit the GED testing website.

  • Test-takers must earn a minimum of 145 on each subject test in order to pass overall. It is no longer the case that a high score on one test can compensate for a below-passing score on another test. If a test-taker scores below 145 on any of the subject tests, the test-taker must retake those subject tests regardless of her performance on other subject tests.
  • We encourage test-takers to take the GED ReadyTM Official Practice Tests as a final step before scheduling their actual GED® test. The GED ReadyTM Official Practice Tests are available from the MyGEDTM portal. Register at https://ged.com.

Ready to start studying? Check out Kaplan’s GED Prep Plus 2019 book!


[ KEEP STUDYING WITH GED PRACTICE QUESTIONS: Social Studies • Mathematical Reasoning • Science •  Language Arts]