The General Educational Development Tests is a series of five tests to measure your knowledge and skills on core high school subjects. If you pass all five tests, you earn your GED credential, which serves as the equivalency to a high school diploma. The American Council on Education establishes national guidelines for the GED diploma, but your state, jurisdiction or school can enforce more stringent requirements.

Individual Sections

The GED exam has five subject tests: language arts reading, language arts writing, mathematics, science and social studies. For each section, you receive a standard score ranging from 200 to 800 points. You must score at least 410 points on a section to pass it.

Passing the GED

To receive your GED diploma, you must pass each section and earn a total of 2,250 points. This equals an average of 450 points per section. While you must always earn at least 410 points per section, this variance allows you to have weaker and stronger subjects. For example, if you receive a 415 math, 425 science, 475 reading and 445 writing, you must score at least a 490 on the social studies section to receive your GED diploma. (415+425+475+445+490/5=2,250)

Writing Section

The writing section has a slightly different scoring format than the other four sections because this section features an essay. Two trained readers score your essay on a scale of 1 to 4. Their scores are then averaged. You must receive at least a two or higher to pass the essay. Your essay and multiple-choice score are then combined to form a composite score on the 200- to 800-point scale. If your essay scores lower than a two, then there will be no composite score.


The guidelines established by the American Council on Education are followed by most states, but you may want to do research to confirm your local requirements before sitting for your exam. For example, Texas’s Lone Star College System requires that students have a passing score of 460 points or better on each section. The Kansas Board of Regents requires a minimum of at least 420 points on each test.

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