The General Educational Development test -- or GED -- can be your ticket to a better future, a college degree or a new job. Each state establishes its own eligibility requirements for GED testing, so your state's laws might vary slightly from those in other states. The passing scores for the GED, however, are uniform so that GED credit applies in all states.
GED applicants generally must be 18 to take the test. However, most states provide an exception for students who are no longer enrolled in school. In Massachusetts, for example, students must be 18 or have an "official letter of withdrawal" from school. States establish their own laws governing at what age a student can drop out of high school. Because high school attendance is mandatory before this age, students can't sit for the GED before they reach the dropout age. In many states, the age is 16.
Many states require that students be state residents or long-term visitors to take the GED. Proof of residency might include a recent bill, a high school transcript or proof of a job in the state, but requirements vary. Undocumented immigrants from foreign countries can't take the GED.
The GED is a substitute for a high school diploma, not a supplement to one. The test is also not designed to encourage students to drop out of high school. Consequently, most states explicitly mandate that students registered for the GED not be currently enrolled in high school.
You'll need identification -- generally some form of government-issued photo ID -- to take the GED. School IDs are not usually acceptable forms of identification. Instead, you'll need a passport, driver's license, military ID or similar proof of your identity. State ID requirements vary slightly, so check with your state's Department of Education before you go to the test.
The GED has five different sections covering social studies, science, language arts and reading, language arts and writing, and math. The test is primarily multiple choice, but also requires an essay. Section scores range from 200 to 800. To pass the GED and receive your certificate, you'll need a minimum score of 410 in each section and a total minimum score of 2,250.
- State of New Jersey Department of Education: New Jersey General Educational Development (GED) Tests
- GED Academy: Passing the GED Test -- A Critical Credential, but How Hard Is It?
- Texas Education Agency: Eligibility Requirements for GED Testing
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education: General Educational Development (GED) Requirements
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.