How to Get Your High School GED

Amy Guertin
Graduation Hat and Diploma

Preparing for the GED involves several steps, including finding out where and when you can take the test and how much it will cost. You'll also have to prepare by learning about the subjects and types of questions on the test and what information you'll need to know. In short, you'll need to study.

Register at MyGED

The first thing you'll want to do is create an account at MyGED.

  • Go to the official GED website and create an account at the bottom of the login box.
  • Fill in your personal information. You'll need to include your location so that you can find nearby GED prep centers.
  • You will be asked if you need any accommodations for conditions such as visual impairment or ADHD. If you do need an accommodation, you will need to send supporting paperwork and wait up to 30 days for a decision to be made on whether the accommodation will be approved.
  • At this point, you'll be able to take a practice test, find a GED testing location, or schedule your GED test.
  • To find out the cost of the GED test in your state, click on the message icon at the top right of the screen.
  • Remember that all GED tests must be taken at an approved testing center.
  • The GED doesn't have to be taken all at once (it would take over seven hours to complete!). You can schedule each of the four subjects, one at a time. You can retake each subject twice. If you fail a subject two times, you must wait 60 days before you can retake that subject.

The Subjects

The GED test consists of four parts: reasoning through language arts, social studies, science, and math.

  • Reasoning Through Language Arts - the longest of the sections, this test takes 150 minutes to complete and consists of:
    • Reading comprehension, which includes answering questions about written material, with 75 percent of the writing being nonfiction, information-based text
    • Writing, which consists of analysis of arguments and use of evidence, structure, clarity, grammar, usage
  • Social Studies - this test consists of multiple-choice questions and takes 70 minutes to complete. It covers the following topics:
    • Economics
    • U.S. History
    • U.S. and World Geography
    • Civics and Government
  • Science - this test takes 90 minutes to complete and includes both multiple-choice and short answer questions in the following areas:
    • Earth Science
    • Space Science
    • Life Science
    • Physical Science
  • Mathematics - this test takes 115 minutes to complete. About 45 percent focuses on quantitative problem-solving (number equations and geometry) and about 55 percent focuses on algebra-related problem-solving. The math section consists of two parts:
    • Part one has five questions that test basic math skills (addition, subtractions, multiplication, and division), as well as exponents, roots, and number sense. You cannot use a calculator on part one.
    • Part two consists of 41 questions that cover multiple step problems using real-world examples that are familiar to test-takers. A calculator can be used on this part, and a formula sheet is provided with basic algebraic and geometric formulas. Expect the subjects on the math test to deal with the following:
      • Ratios
      • Rational numbers
      • Percentages
      • Proportions
      • Polynomial expressions
      • Linear inequalities
      • Identifying functions on a table or graph
      • Using the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the surface area of 3-D geometric figures
      • Algebra
Teacher tutors student

Studying

There are a variety of ways to study effectively for the GED. Whether you prefer books, online sites or a tutor, there is an option for you.

Study Sites

Some sites have practice tests and materials you can use to study, both paid and free. The easiest study materials to find are free and online. These sites offer free practice tests, study guides, and more:

  • Test Prep Toolkit - this free site offers practice tests for each subject. It also offers free online classes in each subject complete with multiple videos on the different areas the test will cover. This is a great alternative to those who don't like reading a lot of material or who need the additional visual learning in some areas.
  • Test Prep Review by Mometrix - although this site charges for a study guide and flashcards, if you scroll down the page there are multiple practice questions for each main subject and each area within each subject. There are detailed answers to each question to help you understand why you may have gotten a question wrong.
  • Study Guide Zone - this site not only has free practice tests, but also has free skill building exercises for some of the skills required for each of the subjects, as well as a free downloadable study guide.
  • Union Test Prep - this is a great free site that offers practice tests, flash cards, study guides, and can even connect you with a (paid) private tutor in your area.
  • McGraw-Hill - this site has practice texts, as well as extensive information and study guides for each of the four subjects: language arts, social studies, science, and math.
  • GED Academy - this site not only has a practice test but also provides links to many other free study sites, including sites for ESL learners.

Online GED Courses

  • My Career Tools - offers free online courses in all four subjects of the GED, as well as practice tests.
  • Universal Class - this online GED prep course is priced between $125-$150, contains 50 lessons, and will take approximately 35-40 hours to complete.
  • ed2go - this online course costs $149 and is designed to run over six weeks.
  • MathHelp - if you are only interested in taking an online course for the math portion of the GED, this is also available for $50 a month or $200 a year. This site provides 208 lessons with homework personally generated based on the areas you struggle with. Frequent grading and progress reports help you to stay on track and see your progress.
  • Study.com - provides different levels of monthly subscription from $30-$100 a month, depending on the level of access. With the most basic level, you get unlimited access to all video lessons, video transcripts, and tech support.

Prep Books

GED prep books are also an option. Before you think of a thick, dry text to read, keep in mind that prep books today are very different from the prep books of many years ago. The prep books of today frequently come with CD-ROMS and online/mobile access to videos:

  • Kaplan GE Test Premier 2017: Kaplan has long been the gold standard in education and testing. This test prep comes with two practice tests, over 1000 practice questions, strategies for each section of the exam, tips for passing the test, and access to online videos, and instructions on how to use the calculator you'll be given during the test. It's currently just under $18.
  • McGraw-Hill Education Preparation for the GED Test 2nd Edition: another heavy hitter in the education/testing world, McGraw Hill's test prep book contains all of the text information as Kaplan's book (and quite a bit more at almost 1000 pages!), but without the CD-ROM and access to online videos. It is cheaper at about $12.

  • How to Prepare for the GED® Test (with CD-ROM): All New Content for the Computerized 2014 Exam (Barron's GED (Book & CD-ROM)) - the benefit to Barron's book is that it has been redesigned to address the GEDs new format of being computerized and reflects that in its book. With Barron's test prep, you'll go into the GED test with a good understanding of what the computer test will be like. It costs around $19 and also has optional flashcards for around $7.

  • Steck-Vaughn Test Preparation for the 2014 GED® Test: Not only does Steck-Vaughn have a book for the GED prep, but it also has books for each subject area if you're only having difficulties in one or two subjects. Although expensive at $150, this kit not only contains the book, but also digital and online courses, and teacher support. This may be the best of both worlds for those looking for a good test prep book as well as an online course. Each of the individual subjects come with the same benefits for just under $38 each.

Getting a Tutor

  • Your local high schools or community college will normally have either an online or on-site course that you can take, either for free or for a low cost. Some community colleges will even let you turn your passing GED score into college credit.
  • GED Testing Service - this will show you all the test prep centers in your area along with their contact information.
  • The National Literacy Directory - click on "To study for high school equivalency" and put in your ZIP code or city and state.

In 2014, the GED test was revised to become a much more academically rigorous test. It has become more difficult and requires more preparation than the old GED test. Keep this in mind as you get ready to take your test.

Smiling student

Tips for Passing the GED

There are some things to keep in mind to prepare for and while taking the GED that may just give you the edge you need to pass the test successfully.

  • Make a study plan - if you are taking a GED class, either online or on-site, a study guide will be provided for you. If you have a book you are studying from; you need to make a study plan with a timeline. You'll need to keep track of whether or not you are following your timeline. Your timeline should be determined by when would you like to take the GED. Based on this, you'll have to determine the following:
    • How often will you study?
    • How long will each study session be?
    • What subjects will you study each week?
    • Which subjects will take you longer to study? Use the GED practice tests to determine this.
    • What will you do if you get off track?
    • Sample study plans can be found at Test Prep Toolkit and My GED Class.
  • Don't look for "trick questions" - the questions on the GED tests are not designed to be overly difficult. If an answer seems clear and correct, it probably is.
  • Be physically ready - get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. Our bodies need to be rested and energized for our brains to function well.
  • Answer questions carefully - although this may seem like a simple one, it involves several mistakes that many people make. Make sure you:
    • Never answer a question without reading the entire question carefully. Look for keywords and words like "not" and "except," which change the entire meaning of the question.
    • Look ahead at the questions on the reading section. This gives you an idea of the information you need to look for while reading.
    • If you are unsure of the answer, eliminate the answers you know are incorrect. This will narrow down how many answers you have to choose from. If you have to guess, at least you have better odds.
  • Familiarize yourself with the calculator - on the GED test, a Texas Instruments TI-30XS on-screen calculator will be available to you for the math portion that you can use a calculator on. Check here for videos and documents to help you become familiar with this calculator before the test.
  • Find out your learning style - not everyone learns in the same way. One reason that many students weren't successful in school is that they weren't taught in their preferred learning style. By determining your learning style and techniques to help you best learn, you should be able to study for and take the GED more effectively. There is a questionnaire and materials to read to understand more about your preferred style.

Beware of Fraud

Unfortunately, fraudulent websites exist, claiming to be able to get you a GED certificate quickly and easily. People pay more than what the GED test costs to take, only to find that their GED certificate is worthless. There are a few things to keep in mind when taking your GED test.

  • All GED tests must be taken in-person, on-site, at a certified GED testing center.
  • You cannot take GED tests online.
  • GED tests cannot be taken at home.
  • Any site that claims that you can take the GED test online or at home is not credible and should be avoided.

Although it may be tempting to fall for these claims, there is no getting around the work required to prep for and the necessity of taking the test in-person.

New Hope

With knowledge and preparation, you can take, and pass, the GED exam. A GED may be the first step in your new journey toward better employment, higher education, and a more fulfilling life. Your GED can be the tool you need to make your life what you want it to be.

How to Get Your High School GED