The GED has existed since 1942, when many individuals in the United States left high school to join the military and fight in World War II. When these veterans returned from service, they often discovered that they could not secure employment without a high school diploma. Thus, the GED was born, and continues to be given to this day.
The GED of 1942 is certainly not the GED of 2015, as the exam occasionally changes to reflect modern curricula. The test was last revised in January 2014, when the test creators adopted an electronic format. Current GED questions also incorporate the Common Core State Standards. Why has the GED changed? In short, because today’s colleges and employers are looking for people who have up-to-date academic skills, like the ability to work on a computer and to analyze written communication.
If you plan to take the GED, you can expect to take four different sub-tests: a Mathematical Reasoning test, a Reasoning Through Language Arts test, a Science test, and a Social Studies test. It takes almost an entire day to complete the GED—about seven and a half hours in total! Some questions are multiple-choice, while others are extended response or short answer. It is thus an excellent idea to prepare in advance for the GED, so that you can become familiar with the types of questions that you will face.
The Reasoning Through Language Arts section is 150 minutes long. Test-takers will see questions regarding informational texts (such as academic nonfiction or common workplace documents), as well as a few questions about excerpts from literary works. They will also be asked to write responses to provided passages.
The Mathematical Reasoning portion of the GED is 115 minutes in length. It requires students to master skills in algebraic problem solving (55% of questions) and quantitative problem solving (45% of questions). Test-takers will see many question formats, including multiple choice, drag-and-drop, hot spot, and fill-in-the-blank.
The GED’s Science section is 90 minutes long. Students must know a variety of answers in three content areas: physical science (40% of the section), life science (40% of the remaining material), and earth and space science (the last 20%). Like the Mathematical Reasoning section, it utilizes multiple problem formats to test your knowledge in different ways.
The Social Studies portion of the GED is also 90 minutes in length. It is comprised of United States history questions as well as items related to civics and government, economics, and geography and the world. Drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank, hot spot, and multiple-choice items are present, as is an extended response.
The GED is difficult but passable, as thousands of past test-takers can attest. However, this single exam is a comprehensive assessment of what traditional students typically learn over the course of four years of high school. Succeeding on the GED requires studying the appropriate new material, as well as reinforcing those subjects that you learned before first leaving school. In other words, doing your best requires determination and a little bit of planning in advance.