There's no question that those who graduate from high school will have more opportunities than those who don't. That being said, there are some high school students who never got the opportunity to get their diploma, yet they still want those same opportunities for themselves. After some time goes by, a former high school student cannot simply walk back into their high school building and hope to start over. But what they can do is take courses to help prepare them for the GED test.

If students can pass the GED test, they have the option to then continue onto college or get a better job. The possibilities are truly endless. If you do decide to get your GED, then it's good to know how to calculate your GED score so that you have an idea of where you stand, and whether or not you need to re-take a test.

What Is the GED?

"GED" stands for a "General Education Diploma" and is designed specifically for students who did not finish high school, and therefore, were not able to get their high school diploma. The test has different sections which help determine the student's knowledge, aptitude and skills. It measures how well a student is able to process information, solve problems, and think critically across the four different content areas: language arts, math, science and social studies.

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It's a way for students to prove how much high-school learning they've been able to achieve despite the fact they didn't finish high school the traditional way. And many colleges, universities and higher-education institutions consider the GED to be the same as a high school diploma when assessing an individual's application. For many people, the GED offers another chance at life for those who may have hit an obstacle during high school which prevented them from graduating at the same time as their peers.

The Difference Between a Diploma and GED

Although a high school diploma and GED are more or less the same in the eyes of a college admissions counselor, the path to getting a diploma and the path to getting a GED is quite different. Even though there's no doubt that the journey to getting a high school diploma is the more traditional one, there are a significant number of students who find that getting a GED is a better fit for them.

Students who are enrolled in high school for four years should be able to work with their guidance counselor and their teachers to make sure they are on the right path to graduation and obtaining a diploma, though sometimes, circumstances change unexpectedly.

Unfortunately, sometimes a student isn't able to complete high school and he or she may need to drop out. This could be for a number of different reasons, but it can happen when a student has serious things going on in his her life, perhaps a sickness, problems in the family or a pregnancy. Whatever the case may be, students who are finding it difficult to stay in school until they graduate can opt to go the GED route instead. Others may have no choice but to do it this way.

Where to Take the GED?

In order to even be able to take the GED, you must be at least 16 years old. There are more than 3,500 GED testing centers throughout the United States, and it should, therefore, be easy to find a GED testing center that's located near where you live.

You can find the closest GED testing center at GED.com, and visit the testing center in person to schedule your test date. Those working at the testing center can also help you with test preparation, providing information about tutors, study sessions, practice tests, workbooks and more.

What's the Nature of the GED Test?

When you come to take your GED test, you will need to provide an ID, show proof of residency and fill out your application. Here is where you can decide how many tests you want to take at once. Because there are four sections, you can choose to take one test at a time, which is what many test-takers do. This way, it won't be so overwhelming.

You must complete all four sections of the test within three years, though, in order to be eligible to receive your GED. In order to understand how scoring works, it's necessary to understand the nature of the test itself.

The four subjects are broken up into four separate exams. The Mathematical Reasoning section includes basic math, geometry, basic algebra and graphs and functions. This part of the test is 115 minutes long and is broken up into two parts. For the second part, you're permitted to use a calculator.

The Reasoning Through Language Arts portion of the test is 150 minutes long, plus another 45 minutes for the essay section. It covers topics like reading for meaning, identifying and creating arguments and grammar and language.

Next is the social studies section, which is the shortest test at 70 minutes long. The topics that are covered in this section are reading for meaning in social studies, analyzing historical events and arguments in social studies and using numbers and graphs in social studies.

The last part of the test in the science section, which covers reading for meaning in science, designing and interpreting science experiments and using numbers and graphics in science. This section is 90 minutes long. Keep in mind that you can take the tests in any order you feel comfortable with, though it's never a bad idea to get the most difficult sections out of the way, first.

How to Calculate a GED Score

Calculating your GED score is fairly straightforward and understanding how the scoring works can help you determine how you're coming along in the test-taking process. Each section on the GED is graded between 100 and 200 points, with 100 being the lowest you can score and 200 being the highest. You must pass each section individually in order to pass the GED in its entirety.

How Many Points Do You Need to Pass the GED?

In order to pass the GED test, you must obtain a passing score of 145 on each section of the test. So, even if you score a 165 on one test, and a 125 on another, it doesn't matter. While you won't have to re-take the test that you got a 165 on, you will have to re-take the one that you got a 125 on, if you want to pass the entire test.

Even though a 145 on each section is considered passing (except in the state of New Jersey, where you'll need a score of 150 on each section), you'll want to try and aim as high as you can. This is because the higher score you get, the better your chances are of getting into the college you want. A score between 165 and 174 on any test subject puts you at the "GED College Ready Level" which means that you're ready to take college-level courses.

If you score between a 175 and 200 on any test subject, that puts you at a GED College Ready + Credit level, which means that you have demonstrated skills that could potentially earn you 10 hours in college credit. Of course, this all depends on which college you plan on applying to and what their policy is.

How Many Times Can You Re-take the GED Test?

If you didn't pass one of the GED tests, or you didn't get the grade you had hoped for the first time, then you have the option to re-take the test until you're satisfied. Typically, you're allowed to re-take each section up to three times, but the rules vary from state to state. To be sure, ask the testing center near you what the policy is, and strive to do your absolute best the first time around. Make sure that you feel totally prepared before scheduling your first exam by studying, taking plenty of practice tests and if necessary, working with a tutor or taking a GED preparation course.

GED Test Score Percentiles

If you're wondering what your class rank would be after taking the GED, then you can look at the test score percentiles. Depending on your average GED score, you can figure out where you rank. For example, those who score between 187 and 200 are at the top one percent, while those who score a 145 are at the top 85 percent. If you are curious where you stand, then you can check the GED website for more information.

The GED to GPA Calculator

Some students who take the GED want to know what their score would translate to in terms of a GPA. Students who earn their high school diploma will know what their GPA is when they graduate. But for GED students, it's a little bit different because you're not taking the individual credit hours and doing the assignments that would lead to calculating a GPA.

That being said, there is a way to take your GED score and translate your score to a GPA, though it will never be a 100 percent accurate. To do this, you have to add up your score from each of the four sections and divide that by 800, since that's the highest amount you can theoretically score on the GED. Then, whatever number you get, multiply that times four. Or you can find a GED to GPA calculator online.

For instance, if you scored a 150, a 145, a 160 and a 180 on each of the sections, add those together. You'll get 635. Divide that by 800, and you'll get 0.79375. Multiply that by four, and you will have an estimated GPA of 3.175, which can be rounded to 3.2. This is around a B average.

How to Get GED Test Scores Online

Once you finish taking your test, you're probably looking forward to seeing how you did. After taking one of the tests, you should receive notification that your scores have been posted via email, between three hours and 24 hours after completing the exam. To view your scores, you must log into the "MyGED" portal on the GED.com website. It's here that you'll be able to see your scores and a GED test score chart to determine whether or not you'll need to re-take the test. Later, you can order copies of your GED transcripts via the same website, or third-party websites like www.parchment.com.

Things to Consider

Before taking your GED, or rather, before leaving high school prior to graduation, consider the opportunities that will be available for you once you have your diploma. It's very difficult in today's world to get a well-paying job without at least having a high school diploma or GED.

Therefore, before you make any decisions, make sure you talk it over with friends, family and supportive adults. Of course, if you're already an adult who just never finished high school, and you're eager to grow, the GED provides an incredible opportunity to get your life back on track and open the door to a whole array of career choices.

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About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.