Want to earn your high school equivalency diploma or GED online? While the actual exam must be taken in person, many schools and organizations offer programs online to help students prepare for the exam. Top online colleges and universities, for example, have expanded their course catalogues to include both hybrid and fully online GED classes. The 100% online option gives both traditional and non-traditional students the chance to study for the test in the most flexible of settings. The hybrid format combines the convenience of online study with the personal touch of face-to-face learning.
Format aside, every GED hopeful faces certain challenges on the path to exam completion. The following guide walks you through the key sections of the test, answers popular questions posed by test takers, offers tips and tricks, and lists high school equivalency and GED prep classes.
Whether you choose to prep for your high school equivalency or GED online or in-person, finding the right program is key. Hundreds of schools, colleges and organizations offer prep classes for little or no cost. We have provided a small sampling of courses available below, but many more are available. Check with local colleges and universities to see what is offered, and do a quick internet search to find all your options.
Not all online GED classes are created equal. Before selecting a college and a program, it’s important to know what to expect. Keep these tips, tricks, and warning signs in mind as you begin the process.
Beware of “extras” and overcharging. Some GED classes and programs offer personal online support in addition to the standard prep materials. These services may cost more money and add little to no value beyond what is included for free.
In most cases, taking the GED test should never cost more than $150.
Online classes help prepare you for the GED exam. They are not the actual test themselves. While the GED may be administered using a computer, no legitimate GED test can be taken online. The exam must be taken in-person at a testing center.
Fraudulent websites that offer GED preparation and test taking online appear on a regular basis. In addition to finding carefully vetted lists of schools and class offerings, like the one included in this guide, be sure that any institution you choose for test prep holds accreditation endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education. You can use the International Registry for Accreditation or Council for Higher Education Accreditation to search for credible programs.
It is fair and logical to pay for professional online preparation courses. Watch out for sites that want you to pay for a high school diploma or a GED equivalency certificate.
Each state determines its equivalency test content and test-taking procedures and is not regulated by the federal government. Sites that claim affiliation with the U.S. federal government are likely a scam.
To study online for your GED, you need access to a computer that meets these minimum technical and browser requirements.
Taking preparation courses online does not mean they are less demanding or thorough than in-person classes. Be prepared to set aside time each day to work on your preparation materials. Develop a study schedule and stick to it.
Practice exams are available online and can be an excellent resource. They can help you gauge which subjects require more of your attention by exposing gaps in your knowledge. Furthermore, practice exams give you a feel for taking the real GED exam.
After selecting your test prep option, it’s time to tackle the test itself. This starts with a basic understanding of how the exam works, followed by deeper dives into its four primary sections. Here’s how the GED breaks down.
The mathematics portion of the exam evaluates your problem-solving, analytical, critical thinking, and procedural skills, and is split into 2 parts. Part 1 has 5 questions that test basic arithmetic skills. Part 2 contains an additional 41 questions. You may use a calculator on the second part only. There are 5 types of questions on the exam: multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, hotspot, drag and drop, and drop-down. Be prepared to answer questions concerning two- and three-dimensional figures, geometry, fractions, ratios, graphs and data analysis, averages, probability, and other standard mathematical concepts. With such a wide range of topics, a practice exam can be a critical tool in evaluating your mathematical strengths and weaknesses.
Math section breakdown:
NOTE: You will be able to access a formula sheet on your testing computer, as well as a dry erase board and a marker.
The science portion of the GED covers aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, ecosystems, and astronomy. You evaluate data, graphs, make predictions based on evidence, and apply formulas from scientific theories, among other problem-solving processes. You can use a calculator (on-screen or a Texas Instruments TI-30XS Multiview Scientific) on some parts of the science exam. Questions in this section are multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, hot-spot, and drop-down formats.
Science section breakdown:
On the social studies section of the GED, you need to read charts and graphs that display social data, and use that information to reason and interpret the questions at hand. Questions in this section are multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, hotspot, or drop-down. Keep in mind the social studies section is not a memorization-style test for which you can cram formulas and statistics. Knowledge of significant events in the following areas, and a basic understanding their impact on history and the present day, will be key:
Social studies section breakdown:
NOTE: This section of the exam is 70 minutes and 35 questions in length. You need a minimum score of 145 to pass this section.
The reasoning through language arts section, also known as reading and writing, includes three main areas. First, you must answer questions based on written passages. Questions are designed to gauge how well you understand plot points or theses in materials you read. Second, you need to evaluate written text for grammar, spelling, and logic. Last, you compose extended responses to writing prompts based on passages and accompanying graphics or charts. Most students need to spend the majority of their study time on language content areas, such as sentence structure, punctuation, homonyms, possessives, and effective ways to construct an argument. When you compose your extended response, you need to develop an argument based on evidence from the text provided.
NOTE: You will have 150 minutes to complete 46 questions.
When considering an online GED class, a few important questions may come to mind. Here’s a look at online class FAQs and how they could impact your GED journey.
Online, self-paced GED preparation courses usually take 8 to 16 weeks to complete. According to the GED Testing Service, most students spend 3 months or less studying for the exam.
Study programs that help you prepare for the GED exam do not necessarily have to be accredited, but it is highly recommended that they are classes recognized and approved by the GED Testing Service. The only approved at-home study program is the GED Academy.
Both online self-paced and teacher-led classes run about $100-130 per student.
Scholarships that pay for your online GED preparation courses are available from organizations like the International Financial Aid Center and from private scholarships programs.
Depending on the student, some online preparation programs suggest that, with the appropriate study materials, 15 or 30 minutes every day is sufficient. To be safe, you should plan on 1 hour of study time per day.
Yes, there are numerous free course options available to you online. These preparation courses could be sufficient for you, but do your best to locate services that are credible, offered by recognized educational institutions, and have a positive track record.
You’ve completed your study program and mastered the material, now it’s time to take the test. While not quite as easy as “sign-up and show-up”, you should be able to sit for the exam with minimal stress. Here’s how the process works, from registering for the exam to completing it.
To sign up for the GED, go to GED.com and create an account. You can use its search engine to locate a testing center near you. Many of the approximately 3,000 testing centers across the United States are operated by community colleges, school boards, and adult education centers. On test day, arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled time to allow for check-in procedures. All materials you need for the exam will be given to you at the testing center. Cell phones and unnecessary personal belongings are not allowed in the testing rooms.
Each of the four sections of the exam has its own format, rules, and price. Prices vary by state and are usually $30-38 per section. For the math section, you have 115 minutes total, with a short break between its two parts. The science section takes 90 minutes and does not include breaks. The social studies section is 70 minutes and does not include breaks. Finally, the reasoning through language arts section is 3 parts, 150 minutes total, with a 10-minute break between parts 2 and 3. You also have 45 minutes to complete a written essay.
You cannot take the GED exam at home. The exam can only be taken in full, or by section, at official testing centers. Only preparation courses, practice exams, and other study materials may be completed at home.
Some online high school diploma programs are legitimate. There are many scammers and diploma mills looking to take advantage of students, however. Any program that offers a diploma at a fee with little or no coursework should not be trusted. Legitimate online schools must meet at least minimum academic standards and should require you to pass a substantial amount of coursework for the diploma. Credible programs should also provide documentation on their accreditation. There are some well-known college and universities, for-profit online high school programs, and public or charter schools that offer high school diploma programs.
You may be able to receive money to cover all or part of the GED testing fee. Funding usually comes from your employer (ask first) or from companies that work with your state's workforce commission or department of education. Many of these organizations or state departments provide free services and programs for students preparing to take the GED, including study programs and test-taking courses.
You’ve finished the exam, now what? It’s common for students to fret over their scores and what they could mean for their future. There’s the stress of waiting for the results, wondering if they’re good enough, and not knowing how to get the right info to colleges. Here’s a little GED guidance to help you after the exam.
Test results should arrive via email within 24 hours. In some cases, your exam may be flagged and require manual scoring and must be graded by a proctor. Manual scoring can cause delays up to 3 days. This process can also be delayed, depending on when your testing center uploads the information.
You need a score of 145 on each section to pass the GED exam. This is a great accomplishment and positions you to apply for colleges and advance your career in a degree-seeking program. A score between 165-174 on any section indicates you are ready to take college-level courses. A score of 175-200 on any subject is considered "college ready plus credit". In these cases, you may qualify for up to 10 college credit hours upon enrollment. These 10 credits are spread over the four sections, limiting you to 3 credits each in math, science, and social studies, and 1 credit in the humanities.
To send your GED results to colleges and universities, you must order your GED transcript, diploma, or certificate. You can do so at this GED test service site, as well as learn about state-specific directions for sending in your scores. If you send your transcript directly to a school, you may only have the option to send an electronic copy. Some schools prefer copies through snail mail, so be sure to check with the admissions office at your desired school to find out their preference. The cost for a GED transcript is $15 in all eligible states except Kansas, where the fee is $20.
A GED opens doors at multiple educational levels, as well as within a variety of popular career fields. In addition to education and experience, a GED can be a salary boost, as well. See how each path works with your exam score.
After sending your transcripts, contact the admissions office to see if your test results allow you to bypass placement exams or remedial courses. If you scored between 175-200, you may be eligible for college credit, as well. Even if you have not earned your GED or high school diploma, you can still apply to college. Some colleges and universities allow non-GED holders to work toward a degree or gain specific knowledge in an area without earning the degree.
Vocational schools offer career-specific educations for students who wish to enter the workforce quickly. Sometimes referred to as trade schools or career schools, vocational programs can prepare you for careers with focused coursework and hands-on training, often without unrelated academic course requirements. These programs are valuable for those planning on working in a new industry and would benefit from quick, directed learning, and working adults re-entering the workforce or transitioning to a new field. These programs are often 10 weeks or less but can be up to 2 years in length, depending on your chosen field. In most cases, you must have passed the GED exam and be 16 or 17 years of age.
Earning your GED can prepare you for many careers that do not require additional coursework in vocational or career schools. These positions involve heavy on-the-job training, and the GED helps open the door. Full-time jobs, such as human resources assistants, occupational or physical therapist aides, retail sales associates, and travel agents may be available to those with a GED and little to no prior experience in the field.
CHEA is one of the most up-to-date resources on accreditation in the United States. One of the handiest online tools provided here is CHEA's online database. Anyone can search its database to locate accredited colleges, universities, and other educational programs.
Here you can find numerous resources for entering the workforce after obtaining your high school diploma or GED. This site includes a list of professional careers, along with detailed web pages for each position, that anyone with a GED can consider viable employment options.
The Bureau of Labor statistics website offers specific details into careers and the professionals who occupy them in the United States. With its user-friendly search engine, you can explore dozens of career paths in minutes and find out what those professionals do, how you become one yourself, what they make, and what the projected growth rate over the next several years.
This site provides additional resources and tips on how to best determine whether or not an online GED preparation program or online high school diploma is credible. While other sites on this topics will provide useful supplemental materials and links, the extended list of tips located here is in one convenient location.
Provided by the GED testing center website, you can find links to study guides and registration for online preparation courses in one convenient location. Follow this link and click on the "View [subject]" link at the bottom of any section for details.
Kaplan is a for-profit company specializing in test preparation courses. Here you can locate self-paced or live instruction for the GED exam over the web. While their services are not cheap, you can rest assured that this trusted name in test preparation will give you a focused study routine and help you perform at your highest potential.