The General Educational Development Test (GED) is an exam provided to substitute a high school diploma. The test is comprised of five sections and is designed to test whether or not a student has the necessary knowledge to graduate from high school. The exam is usually taken by students who cannot finish high school. Although California has general age requirements, there are some exceptions to the rule.

Standard Age Requirements

A person must be 18 years of age to take the GED in California. The test-taker's school status is irrelevant when determining eligibility for the exam. Many students are out of high before they consider taking the test. The applicants may also be within 60 days of his/her 18th birthday in order to qualify for the GED test. In addition to age, the applicant must also establish state residency to take the test in California.


California allows applicants to take the GED at 17 years of age under two circumstances. However, for each exception, the person will not receive the GED certificate until his/her 18th birthday. The first is that the person has been out of high school for at least 60 consecutive days and provides a letter of request to waive the requirement from a university, military or potential employer.

The second exception allows a 17-year-old to take the GED if he is incarcerated in a California prison. Due to the circumstance, the normal age requirement is waived because it is reasonable to assume that the applicant will not finish high school. However, the California Department of Education requires that the person have the basic necessary skills to complete the exam, and the applicant understands the pros and cons of obtaining a GED versus a high school diploma.

Early College Acceptance

Under rare special circumstances, a student may decide to take the GED at age 16. This occurs when a student has skipped several grades or has been accepted into a university program prior to high school graduation. In this case, the institution will request that the age requirement be waived and the student will submit an age-waiver application for the GED. The California Department of Education will decide whether or not to allow the student to take the exam. Acceptance into the program or college will be dependent upon passing the GED.

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