If you dream of going to college or simply want to show your dedication to your education, and you’re unable to obtain a high school diploma, then receiving a GED is the best option for you. In order to get a GED, there are a few important steps a student must take. It’s important to understand what a GED is and what it can do to help a student move further in their educational journey or in a future trade or career.

What Is a GED?

A GED is a high school equivalency diploma. If students are not able to attend high school in the traditional manner due to family or financial reasons, they can still earn the high school equivalency diploma. While earning a GED may sound different than earning a high school diploma, the good news is it will still help a student accomplish the same goals, such as furthering a student’s education at a secondary institution or trade school or for employment. While the name GED sounds very different than high school diploma, they are both the same thing. It's simply a different way of obtaining a very important document.

How to Take the GED Test

The first thing a student must do before taking the GED test is to find out if there are any requirements they must meet. Most states require that a person be at least 18 years old in order to take the test. Some states allow students of a younger age to take the test due to other circumstances, such as leaving their previous school program.

Regardless of the circumstances, the student must meet other requirements, which will be listed, and provide proper documentation to the GED administrator. Proper documentation may include a notarized letter from a parent or guardian giving permission for the underage student to take the GED Test. Every state is different, so the student must check the requirements for the state they’re taking the test in. It’s also important for the student to learn if they must be a resident of the state, as that can prohibit them from taking a test in another state.

Once the students learn they have met the requirements to take the GED test, the next step is to visit their local board of education, trade school or prospective college counselor to find out when the next testing period will be and where it will take place. Once the student knows when and where to take the test, there is now the cost of the test the student must pay. The test consists of four different subjects a student will be tested in: mathematical reasoning, social studies, science and reasoning through language arts. Depending on where in the country the student is located, each part of the exam can cost as little as $3.75 per subject and up to nearly $35 per subject.

After the student has determined the cost of the test, the student will then need to make time to make payment arrangements. It’s now time to prepare. It’s important to remember that since the exam is broken into four separate subjects, the student doesn’t need to take the exam all it once. Exams can take a little over an hour to more than two and half hours. If the student is a little nervous about the length of time that is allotted for each exam section, the student should plan to take subjects in order of their comfort level.

Each section of the exam may provide questions in multiple choice or require that the student present their final answer in essay form. Some sections may also require the student to read passages from a text and add the answers in a short response. However the test will need for the student respond, it will be communicated in easy to understand directions.

Can You Get a GED Test Mailed to Your Home?

Unfortunately, you can’t get the GED test mailed to your home. Luckily, with the GED test being such an important one for so many, there are hundreds of official GED testing centers around the country and even in Europe for students who are abroad or currently serving in the military.

The official GED is also administered by administrators in prisons and detention centers around the country so that students who are interested in furthering their education and careers can do so while incarcerated. Of course, the process to take the GED test while incarcerated may be slightly different due to prison and detention center regulations. There are still multiple opportunities to get the GED test where you are.

It’s important to note that a quick search of the internet shows there are many different websites and companies that will allow you to earn a diploma or participate in a program for a correspondence high school diploma.

These companies will allow a student to complete all their coursework at home or online and then receive their final examination materials at home as well as through GED correspondence courses. It’s important to understand that while some of these programs might be official, not all of them are and they certainly aren’t official GED tests. It’s necessary to do plenty of research before a student pays any money to an organization that claims to provide a high school diploma or a GED test that is mailed to a home.

GED Study Tips

Much like any educational goal, preparing for a GED test is very time consuming, and it’s important to really think about any other situations that are taking place within students' lives that may distract them while preparing. Before scheduling and paying for the GED tests, a student should really think about how much time he or she will be able to dedicate to prepare and how to free up additional time. Once a schedule is put together, it’s now time to be honest with one’s ability and figure out what to study first. Everyone has a subject they’re stronger in and recognizing those talents early on will make the student better prepared.

There are many ways to prepare for the GED test that include different time, financial and technology commitments. The first way to study would be to visit a bookstore and purchase a guide dedicated to GED testing that can help to outline what to expect on the test. This book will include information about each subject, practice tests and guidelines for how the test will be graded and when and how to expect results. If purchasing a book is cost prohibitive, a local library would have books that could be studied on-site at the library and books that could be checked out to take home. If the books can’t be checked out, there is always an option to photocopy pages to work on later at home.

The internet is also a great place to find information on how to study for the GED test. On the internet, there will be lots of websites providing free information such as pre-test materials, suggestions on how one should study and prepare the night before. A quick search of the internet might also turn up information and thoughts from real GED test takers and how they felt and what they experienced when they took the test.

For more in-depth information, for a small fee, students can access the GED Ready Practice Test. The GED Ready Practice Test gives students a real opportunity to answer questions and review what an actual GED test would look like when they’re ready to take it. An authentic GED Ready Practice Test is one of the best ways to understand exactly what to expect from the test. It will also show students how they need to study and help them recognize were they need the extra lessons.

If reading materials from a book or reviewing information online is still proving to be difficult and not as helpful as one would hope when preparing for the GED test, face to face or in person study classes might be a better fit. When studying in a group, it can be helpful because everyone will have similar questions or concerns and will want to study at the same pace. An additional plus for studying in a group setting is finding a study partner who might be even more comfortable studying one on one with another student. This way, students can share their concerns and fears more freely.

To find a certified GED class, a quick search online can identify classes that are closest to a student’s home and provide the location and time. If an online search doesn’t work, then visiting a local library, the counseling office of a high school or the admissions office at a college or trade school will have more information on dates and times. One of the things to remember is that an authentic GED class will cost money and that’s important to budget for when planning for the taking of the GED test as well.

Before paying for the course, it wouldn’t hurt to speak to representatives of the trade school, college or local college as they might be aware of a scholarship the student might be eligible for that would waive the cost of the course and even the cost of taking the GED test. It never hurts to ask. Additionally, the library is a wonderful resource to ask a very similar question because some libraries can offer enrichment classes such as these for free or for a very small affordable fee.

Now that a student has decided the best way to prepare for the GED test, the most important thing to do when studying is to relax. Constant worry or concern during the study period will not help a student do better, in fact it can only lead to unwanted mistakes. While studying, it’s best to breathe and do the best one can.

This is the same thought process that should be followed when it’s time to take the test, go slow and do your best. There’s no rush or prize for finishing too quickly.

Once the student has completed the test, now’s the time to wait for the results. Surprisingly, the results can be received by the student in as little as a few hours to a day. A 145 in each subject tested on is a passing score, except for in New Jersey where students need a 150. If a student receives a score of 165 or better on any one of the subjects, it shows that the student is college ready and maybe able to receive a waiver to bypass certain enrollment requirements. A score higher than 175 on any subject can possibly account toward college course credits.

Taking the GED test may seem daunting, but with enough preparation and information, your goal of passing the GED test is well within your reach.

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About the Author

As a communications professional in the greater Philadelphia region, Jerisha enjoys writing informative advancement communications pieces for philanthropic organizations. When not writing, Jerisha is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Arts and Sciences at Wilmington University where she guides full-time students and full-time working adults through the writing process. Jerisha holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and enjoys writing education articles and essays.