The General Educational Development Test, or GED, is a national test developed jointly by Pearson and the American Council on Education. Individuals who successfully complete the test may use it as a substitute for a high school diploma, because passage demonstrates the same knowledge and skills necessary to graduate from high school. The GED is the only test of its kind that is recognized by all 50 states.

Finding a Class

GED classes are available in a number of locations throughout each state, including some prisons. Vocational centers, community colleges, high schools and public libraries are all good sources of information to find the preparation classes closest to your location. In most cases, if an institution offers adult education and literacy classes, it also offers GED test preparation classes. Some states require a nominal fee for registering in the GED classes, while other states offer the service at no charge. Most states require that you be at least 18 years of age and not currently enrolled in high school.

Preparation Classes

GED preparation classes cover five core subject areas, comparable to the actual test. As you take the classes, expect to work on language arts and writing assignments that focus on organization, mechanics, sentence structure and word usage. The test has a written essay, so the classes review the key components of composition. Preparation classes train you seek out key information in non-fiction and fiction texts so you can answer questions. Social studies classes cover both U.S. and world history, as well as geography, economics and political science. During science classes, you review key concepts of life science, physical science, astronomy and earth science. The mathematics component review number operations, geometry, measurement, statistics, data analysis, probability and algebraic functions and patterns.

Practice Tests

Classes allow you to work at your own pace. Because everyone enrolled in a GED preparation class has different levels of prior education, the length of time to complete the course varies. Once you feel you are ready to take the test, your instructor can help you take practice tests to ensure you are ready. Practice tests are also available online from private sector providers, who charge a fee.

Taking the Test

Once you schedule a test date, arrive on time at the testing center and bring the required identification documents with you. Each section of the test is timed, so answer the questions you know first, then come back to the questions you need to think about. Depending on whether you take the test on a computer or with paper or pencil, it may take up to two weeks to be notified of your results. As of 2013, test-takers were advised that, if they need to retake a section or sections of the test, they do so before the end of 2013. The post-2014 GED is updated to include college and job training readiness assessment, which changes the nature of the material studied.

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