A General Education Development (GED) diploma is essentially a substitute for a high school diploma. It’s a test that certifies the taker has high-school level knowledge. And since the average age of people applying for GED is 24 years old, it may not be too late for you to consider taking the GED.

For those who were unable to complete high school, the GED provides another way to continue education. It offers flexibility, as you can study at your own pace and take the test when you’re ready. More than 95 percent of employers hire GED graduates on the same basis as high school graduates. There you go.

Simply put, the GED diploma is an alternative for high school. Upon completion of the GED tests, you receive a high school diploma-equivalent GED diploma certificate. 

If you skipped high school or have been unable to resume your studies due to pressing obligations, earning a GED diploma is a good way to qualify for college and get a degree, thereby increasing your career prospects. 

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Here are some striking facts on GED:

  • Almost 90% of all schools in the country accept the GED score for college admission.
  • 65% of GED test-takers plan to enter college or university, trade or technical school, or business school.

Unlike spending four years in a U.S. high school, GED is more of an aptitude test that certifies that you’re on par with a high school graduate in terms of knowledge. 

Some colleges and employers may prefer a high school diploma over a GED. That is because high school diplomas are earned by completing a structured curriculum over several years, suggesting consistent effort and broader knowledge compared to the GED, which is a single test.

Create an account on GED.com, that’s where you’ll manage everything related to your GED diploma test and related documents.

The GED exam tests your aptitude on four subjects: 

  1. Mathematical reasoning (basic math, geometry, basic algebra, graphs and functions)
  2. Reasoning through language arts (reading for meaning, identifying and creating arguments, grammar and language)
  3. Social studies (reading for meaning in social studies, analyzing historical events and arguments in social studies, using numbers and graphs in social studies)
  4. Science (reading for meaning in science, designing and interpreting science experiments, using numbers and graphs in science)

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Rules of GED

  • You cannot apply for GED if you’re currently enrolled in a high school.
  • You must never have graduated from high school. But if you left high school midway some time ago and wish to get a GED, that’s possible.
  • You’re at least 18 years old and above. Although, some states may allow younger students, but not below 16 years of age. Those between 16 to 18 may need to provide additional parental consent and an official withdrawal letter from school.
  • There is no minimum time frame to complete all four tests. But some states may have a different provision. Please check your state requirements before you apply.
Always check your state policy for more accurate details.

Schedule of GED

You can choose to schedule your test either online at home monitored by an online proctor or in person (using pencil and paper) at an official testing facility. 

Some states may not offer online testing services. Please refer to your state policy for more details.

It’s not recommended that you schedule all four tests on the same day. Space them out so you get the due time to prepare accordingly.

If you’re taking the GED at home (online) then, according to your state rules, you may have to take the GED Ready practice test 60 days prior to your actual exam. 

The practice test helps you check your readiness to test, including your computer setup with a webcam and internet connection in a closed room with no distractions.

On the other hand, you may not have to take the GED Ready practice test for an in-person exam in most states.

Cost of GED

The cost of the GED certificate varies with the state where the test is taken. On average, it can cost you around $40 per subject, so you may have to pay around $160 for an in-person exam and an additional $6.99 per subject for the GED Ready practice tests which are mandatory for at-home online GED exam in most states. 

Some states including West Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and others may offer free testing service for state-residents, so please check your state’s pricing and rules before you pay. Also, if you’re currently employed, check with your employer if they offer any help with your GED preparation. 

Some companies and healthcare providers are affiliated with an education benefit program called GEDWorks to provide free GED preparation and testing service. Once you create your account on GED.com, navigate to your dashboard to check if your company offers any free services.

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GED Scoring & Retakes

The GED test score is grouped into three categories:

  • The GED Passing Score: 145
  • The GED College Ready Score Level: 165-174
  • The GED College Ready + Credit Score Level: 175-200

Each group has its merits. If you receive a passing score, that just means that you have passed your GED exam and are ready to go to college. 

If your GED test score falls between 165 and 174, it essentially shows that you’re “College Ready” and possess the skills to begin college-level coursework. You might even be exempt from remedial classes and placement tests. 

Additionally, scoring between 175 and 200 (“College Ready + Credit”) could make you eligible to earn college credits. This allows you to bypass specific courses (saving money) and accelerate your degree completion.

Here are some key differences between GED and high school diploma:

GED DiplomaHigh School Diploma
A set of four subject exams (7 hours) to determine whether the test taker has the knowledge of a high school graduate.A four-year coursework in a traditional classroom setting.
A GED is not an official document.A high school diploma is an official credential awarded to students after completing secondary education.
The subjects include math, science, social studies, and language arts – both reading and writing.The high school coursework includes the same subjects as GED with the added opportunity to enroll in coursework related to music, foreign language studies, and more.

Related: Degree vs. Diploma: What Should You Choose?

You’d be surprised to know that even some celebrities have taken the GED test.

According to the mean earnings report shared by Statista, the average salary for a high school graduate (including GED) is $42,851 per year. You can certainly earn more. Here are some of jobs and their salaries you can target with only a GED in hand:

OccupationAverage salary (per year)
Insurance sales agent$55,592
Secretaries and administrative assistants$41,000
Office clerks$38,040
Customer service representatives$37,780
Home health and personal care aides$30,180
Source: https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2024/article/education-level-and-projected-openings.htm

But why stop there!? A GED helps you get into a college or university that can substantially improve your earning potential. 

Referring to the same Statista report shared above, you can earn onwards of $80,384 with a bachelor’s degree and $52,127 with an associate degree.

Here are some key benefits of getting a GED:

Higher Income Potential

People with a GED typically earn $171 weekly on average more than those without a high school diploma or GED. It can open doors to jobs that require a high school level education.


Taking the GED is more affordable than completing traditional high school.

Access to Scholarships

Yes, you can get scholarships with a GED diploma. Check with your state if they have certain financial aid tools for students attending college in their home state. Also, try to search for “Second Effort Scholarships” if you’re a working student going through GED. 

Dig a little deeper and check with your choice of school if they provide any sorts of financial assistance. College students are often eligible for federal financial aid including grants and loans. If nothing works, you can always apply for private scholarships and grants, once you check and match their eligibility criteria.

But chasing private scholarships is usually not nearly as productive as regular financial aid through the feds and the college.

Related: Do Scholarships for Online Degrees Exist? (Hint: Yes They do)

Learn Test-Taking Strategies: 

Applying for GED can be fruitful in more ways than one. The key skills that you learn by putting your effort and time towards studying for GED can be useful while studying for other tests in the future. 

You may have to take competitive tests for scholarships, college placement, graduate school, specific professional roles, among others. GED.com offers enough free and paid study material, preparatory classes (online and in-person), practice tests, and strategies to help you get ready.

Access to More Job Opportunities

Having a GED can make you eligible for a wider range of job opportunities compared to not having a high school diploma.

Get Into Armed Services

You can even join the U.S. military with a GED credential. Although, you’d have better chances of joining if you earn college credits by scoring higher on the GED and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

GED Badges

GED badges are digital credentials that you receive once you pass the test. These are powered by Credly (Pearson), a platform where you can store your digital certificates.

You can easily share your badges online for your peers, friends, and employers to see. There are essentially five types of GED badges you can earn:

  • One for each subject you score 165 and 174 (College Ready) or 175 and 200 (College Ready + Credit)
  • One for earning your GED credential after passing all four subjects

GED Tech Apprenticeship Program

When you sign up for GED, you get free access to the GED tech apprenticeship program which is an accredited training platform that helps you level up across eleven high demand areas in technology-based career paths, including cybersecurity, software engineering, data analytics, and others. 

And once you complete the GED, you also get the opportunity to secure apprenticeship within some of the leading companies tied up with the program.

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The GED test is divided into four main subjects: language arts – reading and writing, math, social studies, and science. Here’s what you can expect in each test (along with the time to take the test):

  • Language Arts (150 minutes): This section tests your ability to read and understand written text, as well as your ability to write clearly. Practice reading comprehension and essay writing.
  • Math (115 minutes): This section covers a variety of mathematical topics, including algebra, geometry, and data analysis. Brush up on these topics and practice problem-solving.
  • Social Studies (70 minutes): This section tests your understanding of history, geography, and government. Focus on understanding key concepts and events rather than memorizing dates and names.
  • Science (90 minutes): This section covers topics in life science, physical science, and earth and space science. Understand the scientific method and how to interpret scientific data.

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If you’re on a clock everyday sprinting between work commitments, family responsibilities, and other obligations, higher education may seem like a distant dream for you, but it’s not if you have a GED credential to your name. Whether you want to pursue a two-year program or a four year college, a GED is widely accepted across the country. 

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Some employers may favor a high school diploma over a GED, especially for certain professional or corporate roles. However, many employers accept both equally. So, whether you’re a working professional, a parent, or someone re-entering education after a hiatus, the GED bridges gaps and allows you to chase your academic aspirations in-sync with your peers.

How long does it take to get a GED?

You can begin your study routine three to six months ahead of your test. If you foresee needing extra prep time, it’s wise to get a head start. Ideally, a prep period of six to eight months, or even a year if you’re juggling a job or any other responsibility, works well.

The full set of tests, if tackled in one day, will take about seven-and-a-half hours to finish. However, it’s suggested to schedule each subject test on different dates for peak performance.

You can usually expect your results within twenty-four hours of completing your exam or it could take up to three business days at the most. If you pass, you’ll receive your diploma certificate and transcript via email (e-diploma, e-transcript) or mail depending on your state’s policy.

Can you go to college with a GED?

Yes, absolutely. The GED certificate is accepted at almost all of the U.S. schools and many universities around the world. In fact, over 20 million graduates hold a GED diploma as opposed to a high school diploma. Moreover, if your GED test score is more than 165, you may be exempt from college placement tests, remedial (non credit) courses, and even get a chance to earn college credits related to test subjects.