Because the traditional model of education of does not work for every student, the General Educational Development exam exists for those who cannot or do not wish to pursue a high school diploma. Whether you are an older individual who left high school at a young age to pursue work endeavors or you are a younger student who simply wishes to exit high school sooner than your peers, the GED might be right for you.
Benefits of a GED
Passing the GED makes it easier to secure a full time job, and completing each section of the exam with a passing score is associated with higher rates of pay; some statistics suggest that those who have received their GED will earn $2,040 more each year than those who have dropped out of high school and not sought any other educational opportunities. Whether you have recently left the high school setting or you stopped attending years ago, seeking your GED may provide you with more employment options and better paying job opportunities.
Many individuals choose not to take the GED because they are unaware of how readily accepted it is by both employers and colleges. According to the American Council on Education, 98 percent of colleges and universities accept passing GED scores as readily as they would a high school diploma; if you are searching for GED-friendly employment, you may find that 96 percent of employers are happy to accept GED scores as an alternative to a diploma.
GED Eligibility Requirements
While the requirements for taking the GED test vary between states, students must not be enrolled in or have graduated from high school. Additionally, candidates must be 18 years old, although some areas allow those who are 16 and 17 to sit for the exam; if you have not yet turned 18, verify whether or not your area has special requirements for younger students.
Once determining the age that your municipality requires for the GED, you must also find out if there are requirements regarding residency, test preparation or length of time since school attendance. If you do not initially meet the criteria to take the GED exam in your area, you may still be eligible if you:
- Were a home school student
- Graduated from an unaccredited high school
- Graduated from a high school outside of the U.S.
Test Preparation and Academic Requirements
While preparing for the GED test is not generally mandatory, it is advisable to take advantage of at least one of the many free or low-cost preparation options available to students who choose to use them. Depending on your learning style, you may want to enroll in a prep course offered in your local school district or tutoring center; while your community may not offer such a course, those who are serious about passing the exam can often find a similar option online. You may also purchase a book that teaches the skills that will be needed to pass the test; if you are self-motivated, this preparation technique may make it easier to find the time to study.
Regardless of how you choose to study for the GED, make sure that your preparation methods include practice tests; doing so will help you become familiar with the format of the exam and provide you with a glimpse of your strengths and weaknesses. After determining the areas that you need to focus on, you will be able to direct your preparation activities to get the most out of your study sessions. Some students also consider enrolling in an online high school to ensure that they are ready for the exam; if you choose to do this, make sure that your school is legitimate by selecting from a list of accredited schools.
Testing Centers and Fees for the Exam
The logistical details of taking the GED are also an important part of preparing for the exam. More specifically, students must find out where they can take the exam, when test dates are scheduled, what they will need to enter the testing center and whether or not any specific preparation materials or courses will need to be completed before they may take the exam.
There are GED testing centers available throughout the U.S. and Canada. In the United States, many school districts and counties offer GED testing services, and the exact locations of the exams often differ between municipalities; for example, some GED tests are conducted in school buildings, community centers or libraries.
While you may assume that taking the GED is too expensive, the fee for the test is a reasonable $20 per subject area; for reference, the GED subject areas include Science, Social Studies, Reading, Mathematics and Writing. If you take an exam and find that your score is lower than you would like, you may retake any section of the GED exam two more times; each retake will cost a reduced rate of $13.75.
Important Information About Exam Day
While the idea of taking a test that has such a large impact on your future may seem intimidating, doing so will provide you with many more options for higher education, job opportunities and better pay. Before taking the entire test or just one section of it, ensure that you are ready for the experience by:
- Sleeping a full night before the exam
- Leaving your cell phone at home or in the car
- Arriving at the testing center 15-30 minutes early
- Taking a piece of photo identification to the testing center
Passing the GED: Your Pathway to the Future
After successfully completing each section of the GED, you will be ready to plan your future. Whether you choose to use your GED credentials to get into college, enhance a job application or improve the look of your transcript before enrolling in a trade or career school, taking and passing the exam will put you on track for a bright, successful future.