A Single Mother’s Guide for Taking the GED

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The GED, or General Educational Development diploma is generally considered just as valid as a high school diploma. If you plan to go to college you’ll need to have a high school diploma or a GED. Some employers will require it as well. With a little study, a healthy dose of confidence and a very small fee (sometimes the test is free) you can get a GED.

Some Things to Know

Many people are almost paralyzed with fear when it comes to taking any kind of test. Maybe you’ve always had test anxiety or you lack confidence. Perhaps you think the process of applying for or taking the test itself is too difficult. Practical issues such as a lack of transportation or having no child-care might be your hurdles. Whatever they may be, you have to overcome them. Here are a few things to know that might help you decide whether to take the test or not.

  • Depending on where you take it, the GED is very inexpensive. It can range from free to $100. This fee is non-refundable.
  • Testing centers are located all around you. A phone call to your local community college can help you find the nearest one.
  • Usually there is no assistance available to pay for study guides, classes or the test itself. The good news is that many community colleges offer classes on a sliding-scale basis. Your local library probably has helpful resources as well.
  • Although you can’t take the test online, you can find free study guides. There are many free resources online. The authors of the test, the American Council on Education, www.acenet.edu is your best source. If you can’t get on the internet call your community college or your local library.
  • There are five parts to the test: language arts/writing, language arts/reading, social studies, science and math.
  • If you fail any part, you only have to retake the parts that you fail. The exception is if your overall score falls below a certain level, then you have to retake the entire test. You can retake these tests up to three times a year.
  • The test is available in Spanish and some other languages. Your language preference should be indicated when you register.

Make Preparations

Here are some tips to help you take the test.

  • Have solid arrangements made for child care, transportation and anything else that could interfere with taking the test.
  • Get a few good nights’ sleep before test day. The day before the test, don’t try to cram in what you think you have to know. Just do a light review, put the material up and relax. Find a distraction and try not to even think about it. Avoid any drugs or alcohol.
  • Make sure you have all that the testing center requires. That will probably include a photo ID, an admission ticket or pass, whatever fee is required and a couple of number 2 pencils with good erasers and a notepad.
  • Get to the testing center an hour beforehand. Take care of your restroom needs and if possible go into the room and find your seat.
  • Anxiety is your worst enemy. The best cure for that is preparation, but you still might be nervous. Just take some deep breaths and keep in mind why you are doing this.

Taking the Test

The examiner will give you instructions and a certain amount of time will be allotted for each section of the test. The test is all multiple-choice and you will use a bubble sheet for your answers (that’s where you shade-in little circles). If you change your mind about an answer you can either erase it or draw an “X” through the answer. Casio scientific calculators are provided at the test center. If you aren’t sure about an answer, skip it and move on to the next. But don’t leave any answers blank, even if you have to guess. The examiner will have advised you what to do when you complete the test. Usually you simply turn it in and leave.

What Happens Next

There is no pass/fail for the test. Instead, each section is graded individually. The minimum grade for each is 410 and the average score for all five must be 450 and above. You will either get a letter giving your scores and telling you if you need to retest. Or, you will get your test scores and a copy of your GED certificate. Congratulations, you’re now a high school graduate!

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