High school is not for everyone, yet having a high school diploma is necessary for gaining almost any employment, especially in the current job climate. The GED, known as both the General Education Diploma or General Equivalency Diploma, bridges the gap between those who, for whatever reason, do not want or are not able to meet the requirements to finish high school but do want a diploma or to go on to higher education. Most colleges and universities in the United States accept the GED in lieu of a high school diploma when considering applicants.
To earn your GED, you need to pass the six subtests in Language Arts: Writing Parts 1 and 2, Language Arts: Reading, Mathematics, Social Students, and Science. Scores can range between 200 and 800. Each state can set its own passing score, but generally you need a score of 410 on each subtest with an overall average score of 450 to pass. Once you have passed a section of the test, you do not have to take it again and can concentrate on the other sections.
Opposed to the High School Exit Exams, which test Math and Language Arts, the GED is more encompassing, requiring students to demonstrate knowledge in the five core academic areas. To gauge the test, you can find sample questions on-line at http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ged/test/prep/Prepare_GED.html.
The Language Arts test has three sections: Writing Part I, Writing Part 2, and Reading.
Writing Part I
The first section of the Writing test has 50 multiple choice questions and lasts 75 minutes. The questions all focus on grammar and proofreading skills. Thirty percent of this section is on sentence structure, testing knowledge of parallelism, modifiers, fragments, run-ons, and comma splices. Another thirty percent of the section assesses word usage comprehension including subject/verb agreement, tense errors, and pronoun errors. Mechanics including punctuation, capitalization, and spelling, account for twenty-five percent of the questions. The final fifteen percent tests organizational ability, having students proofread text for spelling, edit for coherence and unity, and revise the position of sentences within paragraphs.
Writing Part 2
Part two of the Writing test requires you to write a essay in 45 minutes on a given topic and you can receive a score from 1 to 4. Two readers independently read and score the essay; the scores are averaged together. A threshold of 2 must be reached on the essay or you have to take the test again. If you score 2 or more, then your essay score is combined with your multiple choice writing score to form a composite score for the Writing section. The five main areas of scoring on the essay are: response to prompt, organization, development and details, word choice, and adhering to conventions of standard English writing. Using specific examples from history and literature as your support can help you score higher.
The reading section consists of answering 40 multiple choice questions in 65 minutes. All the questions are based on reading 200-400 word reading passages and eight to twenty-five line poems. Seventy-five percent of the passages are fiction and twenty-five percent are non-fiction. The questions require different types of reading and thinking skills. Basic comprehension, stating the main idea and rephrasing information, comprises twenty percent. Taking information from the selection and applying it to different situations is fifteen percent. Analyzing the text by drawing conclusions, identifying cause and effect relationships, and recognizing assumptions makes up thirty to thirty-five percent of the test. Thirty to thirty-five percent of the questions requires the student to synthesize and interpret multiple inferences from the text and put them together in a comprehensible way.
The Social Studies test encompasses information from the four required high school classes: US History, World History, Economics, and Civics and Government with some additional questions on Geography. Questions will be based on knowledge, historical documents such as the Constitution or Declaration of Independence, and practical documents including atlases and tax forms. Twenty percent of the questions are based on maps combined with text, with the other eighty percent split between prose and visual text such as maps and political cartoons. You have 50 minutes to answer the 70 questions.
The Science test is comprised of answering 50 questions in 80 minutes. It assesses knowledge in the three main areas of Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Earth and Space Science, twenty percent of the questions, focuses on Earth’s energy, the origin and evolution of the earth and the universe, and geothermal cycles. Life Science questions make up forty-five percent of the test, assessing knowledge of the cell, heredity, evolution, organisms’ interdependence, and systems. The final thirty-five percent of the questions focus on Physical Science including structure of atoms, properties of matter, chemical reactions, motion and forces, the conservation of energy, and the interactions of energy.
The Mathematics section has 50 questions to answer in 90 minutes, though it is split into two sections of 25 questions in 45 minutes each. The first section allows the use of a site-provided calculator while the second section focuses on mental math and calculation. Twenty to thirty percent of the test is number sense questions such as using the four basic operations, fractions and decimals, and knowing when to multiply and divide. Another twenty to thirty percent focuses on Geometry concepts such as parallelism, congruence, finding the slope of a line, using the Pythagorean Theorem, and finding the perimeter, area, and volume of different shapes. Data analysis and statistics make up another twenty to thirty percent of the test. This area focuses on reading charts and tables, making inferences based on given data, representing data visually, distinguishing between causation and correlation, and comparing and contrasting different data sets. The final twenty to thirty percent of the questions looks at Algebra and its functions. This includes using the same formula in different situations, using variables, create algebraic equations based on word problems, solve equations, use the quadratic formula, and analyze graphs and data to find patterns.
There are many test preparation websites and books to help you prepare, as well, but you want to make sure you work with a reputable company. There are some scams out there offering online GED testing, but you cannot take the GED online. You must go to an official test center to take the exam. www.acenet.edu has all the information you’ll need to find a testing site in your state and to get the accommodations you may need if you have special circumstances such as a disability that could interfere with your test-taking ability. Knowing what is expected and what to expect on the test gives you a sense of control and enhances your ability to do well on tests. There is a myriad of information and help to pass the GED out there, and setting up a schedule and plan for success will help you get your GED. High school is not for everyone, but the benefits of a high school diploma are available for all.