Is the GED Test Hard & What You Need to Know

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Is the GED test hard?  The General Educational Development test is an opportunity for those who were not able to go or to complete high-school to get a certificate considered as the equivalent of a high school diploma. Since 1972 when it was put to law,  it has been a tremendous blessing and of benefit for thousands of people all over the US.  It offers everyone who passes a chance for them to find a better-paid job, opportunities for further education and several other benefits.

What is the GED test and What are the Sections of the GED Test?

The GED consists of five sections:

  1. Social Studies
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Science
  5. Mathematics

Social studies section consists of 50 questions. You have 70 minutes for this section. There are various types of questions: drag-and-drop, hot spots, fill in the blank space questions, multiple choice questions, etc.

This test is checking:

  • your general knowledge
  • the ability to understand the given information
  • the ability to process the given information

The questions are from the following areas:

  • Economics (20%)
  • Geography (15%)
  • Civics and government (25%)
  • History (US or Canada 25%, world 15%)

Science section contains 50 multiple choice question to finish in 80 minutes;

The test is checking:

  • Your general knowledge and vocabulary
  • understanding some of the concepts and principles usually studied in high school
  • the ability to understand, interpret and use the data from charts and tables

The questions are from the following areas:

  • Life science (45%)
  • Physical science (physics and chemistry, 35%)
  • Earth and space science (20%)

The reading section requires excellent comprehension; You have 65 minutes to answer 40 multiple choice questions.

It is about understanding written passages and their interpretation. 75% of the questions come from fictional literature while others are from nonfiction passages (workplace/business related documents).

Fictional literature consists of:

  • poetry
  • drama
  • prose fiction before 1920
  • prose fiction between 1920-1960
  • prose fiction after 1960.

The test is checking:

  • Comprehension
  • Application
  • Analysis
  • Synthesis


Writing section consists of two parts and the final score is a combination of the test one and test two scores. The first part requires you to read the passages and answer 50 multiple choice questions.

The first test is checking four components of writing:

  • Sentence structure
  • Mechanics
  • Organization
  • Usage

For the second part, you are given 45 minutes. The second part writing the essay and expressing your personal viewpoint on given topic you should be familiar with.

The essay will be scored depending on the:

  • Focused main points
  • Clear organization
  • Specific development of ideas
  • Sentence structure control, grammar, spelling, word choice and punctuation

Mathematics section has 50 questions and five different areas that questions cover. Mathematics section is divided in two tests and each is 45 minutes. During the first test you are allowed to use calculator while during the other test it is forbidden. You will be provided with  math formulas to use during the test.

Type of questions:

  • Multiple choice (80%)
  • Drag-and-drop
  • Quantitative problem solving questions
  • Algebraic problem solving
  • Filling in a blank space
  • Interpretation of information given in Graphs/problems with charts/diagrams/tables…

The areas for the first test are:

The areas for the second test are:

More than 17 million have passed the GED exam and earned their certificate since 1972, the year the program was established and the research results say the passing percentage is getting lower and lower every year. What has changed? The new GED exam (started 2014) is much harder and it is more confusing to people than the previous one.

What is the Difference Between the Old GED Exam and the New (2014) GED Exam?

The Old GED Exam:

  • Consisted of five different sections that you didn’t have to pass all at once
  • The score could be combined from multiple attempts
  • It was very long
  • On paper
  • The answers should be simply marked
  • Took weeks to be graded
  • Cost: $80

The New GED Exam:

  • Computerized
  • Requires computer literacy and speed typing of 25 words per minute
  • Explanation of the answer needed
  • Students find out score immediately
  • Some questions might appear confusing and are not clear
  • If a student fails one section, he needs to retake the whole test
  • Cost: $120

According to these differences, it is easy to see that older citizens who are not computer literate have faced difficulties passing the new GED exam. As the statistics show, there are less people taking the test because of the high price of the exam. Compared to the old version where they could combine their scores and test their knowledge only of the sections they have failed in prior times, this new version not only is pricier but is also too demanding for many. It is a high risk and low chance they will pass the GED exam on the first attempt without some assistance or additional studying. People are disappointed and devastated by the changes and have complained that this test is supposed to help them get out and find a chance for a better-paid job, but instead, it is just a money-eating process with no end. While some test takes are trying to improve their education level, others are looking and hoping for a better paying job by having their degree in hand.

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What Can You Do to Prepare Yourself Better for the New GED Exam?

  • Don’t expect it to be easy; it’s the equivalent of getting a high-school diploma, and there are a lot of things you go through in high school and are required to learn.  It’s the same expectations here as well!
  • Don’t be discouraged by others or by what you read online. If you want to pass it, you will prepare yourself and study well.
  • Know it’s a risk worth trying – it’s not wasting your money if you are well prepared and ready. It is an investment in your future and your personal development.
  • Ask for help – find all the help and support you can; contact private tutors, GED tutors and people who have passed the exam already; they will give you tips and advice.
  • Be calm – being stressed and anxious before the test affects negatively and may cause your failure due to lack of concentration and because of your fear; just like this pre-test anxiety, there is anxiety while preparing for the test. Be secure in yourself and focus on what you are learning.
  • Visit the GED website – get to know the test before seeing it; find out what they want and how they grade the tests. Get familiar with the types of the questions; this way you won’t be shocked when you see something you didn’t expect to see.
  • Find resources – ask on the website, order books online or ask a private tutor for prepping and assistance for this test. It will help you if you have someone who has the knowledge and knows how to transfer the knowledge to you. Find the study material you need and get to know the topics and details well; try to understand things rather than to learn them by heart. Learning by heart means you won’t be able to answer any further questions about the answer you gave , and you will likely have some questions that you can’t answer.  You need to understand the topics, not just memorize.
  • Have faith in yourself – believe you can do this, because you can. It takes a lot of patience and time, but you are improving yourself and investing both time and money in becoming a better person with more knowledge. Don’t miss the chance and opportunity that this presents!

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