The General Educational Development exam (GED), administered by the American Council on Education, leads to the High School Equivalency diploma. It is provided for those who, for whatever reason (illness, work obligations, etc.) are unable to achieve a diploma from a traditional high school. Each American state sets its own policies regarding GED eligibility and passing scores. The State of Illinois administers the GED through its Community College Board (ICCB).

Make sure you are eligible. In Illinois, you may take the GED exams if you:

a) are at least 17 years of age (16 if you were previously in alternative education as defined by the state, or in an Illinois National Guard Youth Education Program)

b) do not already have a high school diploma or GED certificate

c) have formally withdrawn from a traditional school or home-schooling program, and

d) have lived in Illinois for at least 30 days.

Study for the exams. You can prepare on your own, using study materials available on line or at your local library or bookstore, or you can enroll in preparation classes given by the Illinois Adult Education and Family Literacy program. To find your nearest GED preparation classes, call the Illinois Adult Learning Hotline at 1-800-321-9511 (number is correct as of April 2010) or use the online Illinois Adult Learner Gateway to find a provider by ZIP code.

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Register for the exam with the ICCB. Specific instructions are at their website (, or contact:

Illinois Community College Board 401 E. Capitol Ave. Springfield, IL 62701 217-785-0171

You must submit a GED Application Form, a $50 testing fee, and identification. If you have withdrawn from school or a home-schooling program in the last 12 months, you must also submit a letter of withdrawal.

Take and pass the GED exams. There are five separate tests: two in English Language Arts (one in Reading and one in Writing), and one each in Math, Science, and Social Studies. You must take the exams at a local testing center, not on line. To pass, Illinois requires that you achieve scores of at least 410 on each section, and a minimum total score of 2,250.

Take and pass the Illinois State Constitution Exam. This is a special test required by the State of Illinois. It includes questions about the Constitutions of both the United States and Illinois State. The test is given on a pass/fail basis. To pass, you must answer at least 60 percent of the questions correctly.


  • To see practice questions for the Illinois State Constitution Exam, go to the Peoria County website (


  • Study hard for the GED exams. They are not remedial; only 7 in 10 American students with a traditional high school diploma can pass them.
  • Don't fall for scams that offer to let you take the GED tests on line. You may take them only in person, at official testing centers.

Things Needed

  • Identification (Driver's License or Passport or State I.D.)
  • $50 testing fee
  • GED Application Form (available at ICCB website)
  • Letter of withdrawal from previous school (if you withdrew in past 12 months)

About the Author

Sarah Bronson received her Master of Arts in journalism from New York University in 2002. Since then her clients have included "The New York Times," "Glamour," "Executive Travel," "Fodor's," "The Jerusalem Report," "ESPN—The Magazine," the "Washington Times" and "Figure" magazine. Her areas of expertise include biotechnology, health, education, travel, Judaism and fashion.