Cheat Sheet

GED Test For Dummies

From GED Test For Dummies, 3rd Edition by Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth

If you don't have a high school diploma, consider taking the GED (General Educational Development) exam. The GED is a series of four tests (covering language arts, social studies, science, and math) that evaluate your abilities at the high school level. If you pass the test, you earn a high school equivalency diploma. The key to passing the GED test is preparation: Review the GED test's format and content; figure out what you need to do to succeed on the test; be aware of what you can and can't take with you to the test; and reduce your anxiety so you're ready to do your best on test day.

Reviewing the GED Test and What It Covers

Before you begin to prepare for something as important as passing the GED test, you need to know what you're getting into — namely, what the different test sections are all about. Each test section is a series of mostly multiple-choice questions, each having four possible answers. However, some items are specifically designed for the computer interface, such as fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, drop-down menu, and hot-spot questions, as well as Extended Response and Short Answer items.

The Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) and Social Studies tests both have an Extended Response, which requires you to write a good, draft-quality essay with correct spelling and grammar on an assigned topic. You have a time limit in which to write the essay. The RLA test allows you 45 minutes, while the Social Studies test allows 25 minutes. The Science test asks you a Short Answer question (basically a mini essay).

The GED test sections vary in length and have different numbers of questions. The information in the following table gives you a brief overview of each test:

Test Test Structure Time Allowed (In Minutes)
Reasoning through Language Arts Approx. 20 questions 35
1 essay 45
Approx. 30 questions 60
Social Studies Approx. 50 questions 65
1 essay 25
Science Approx. 50 questions including 2 Short Answer items (allow 10 min per) 90
Mathematical Reasoning Approx. 46 questions (the first 5 you do without a calculator) 115

Now that you know the face of the enemy, you can begin to prepare to meet its challenges.

Make sure you check the GED Testing Service for ongoing updates and further information. This test is a work in progress, and the GED Testing Service is making changes and modifications regularly based on experience and feedback from clients.

10 Tips for Doing Your Best on the GED Test

You plan to take the GED test because you want to receive your high-school diploma equivalency, right? You're spending the time and money to take the test, so why not ensure that you do your best? Make sure you're as prepared as possible for everything the GED test has to throw at you.

The best way to prepare yourself is to take as many practice tests, or pretests, as you can. After taking these pretests, you can check your answers with those provided. For your added benefit, most answers also come with explanations to help you understand why they're right. If you take these pretests seriously, you'll get an idea of how well you'll do on the real test. And if you follow the rules on the practice tests and check all your answers (and understand why you missed the ones you did), you'll be ready for the real GED test come test day.

In addition, keep the following tips in mind when taking the GED test:

  • Listen to all directions given before the test. The words of the examiner just before the test tell you everything you need to know to answer the questions properly, which is very important when you're taking a standardized test.

  • Read and follow all the directions given on the test. If you don't follow all the instructions given on the test, you may not pass it, and, as a result, you may have to take it again if you want to receive your high-school equivalency diploma.

  • Carefully read each question and all the answers offered. If you skip reading one or more of the answer choices for a question, you risk missing the best answer because you didn't read it (which means you risk getting the question wrong).

  • Always choose the best answer based on the material presented. Everyone brings outside knowledge into the test, but you must remember that the questions aren't testing your prior knowledge. They're testing your ability to answer questions based on the material presented.

  • Answer all the questions. Practice guessing logically if you aren't sure of an answer. You don't lose any points for guessing wrong — you just don't gain any.

  • Trust your instinct. Your first answer is usually right. Don't spend a lot of time changing answers.

  • Mark the answers carefully. You get points only for clearly selected correct answers on the screen.

    Because the computerized GED test has multiple question formats, that means you need to make sure you click on the correct answer bubble in multiple-choice problems, drag the appropriate answer choices (and in the right order) in drag-and-drop questions, select the correct option in drop-down menu items, spell and punctuation correctly in fill-in-the-blanks, and click on the exact point you intend in hot-spot questions.

  • If you want to change an answer (and you're positive your first answer is wrong), you can do that. But do that only if you have time left over after finishing all the other work in that section of the test.

  • Do the easiest questions first. If you get stuck on a question, leave it. Go on to things you know well and come back later, time permitting.

    You can't transfer time between the question-and-answer sections and the essays in the Reasoning through Language Arts or Social Studies tests. Each section is marked separately. Use leftover time in these sections to review your work.

  • Watch the time. You have a strict time limit.

What to Take to the GED Test Center

Before you leave your house to go to the GED test center on test day, make sure you take a few important items (like your picture ID) with you — and leave behind a few other items (like a midmorning snack or a high-tech calculator) that you won't be allowed to take into the test room.

Do bring the following items with you to the test site:

  • Identification with your picture, date of birth, and address on it

  • Mints or gum as a refreshment

  • The test fee (if not prepaid) or proof of payment

Don't take the following items into the test room:

  • Smartphone, cellphone, or other communication devices

  • Portable music device

  • Electronic devices, games, or calculator (a calculator is provided)

  • Food or drink

  • Textbooks, notebooks, reference books

  • Purse, backpack, briefcase, or duffel bag

  • Jacket, coat, hat, and gloves

You're entering the test center to take (and pass) the test, not relocate your entire inventory of helpful devices. You may miss these items, but leave them at home or in your car. You don't want to risk having the test moderator disqualify you for any reason, and there may not be any safe storage for these items at the test center

The one thing you can bring that may be more helpful than all those electronic gadgets is your brain. (Please don't try leaving it at home on the kitchen counter.) Careful thinking combined with careful preparation can successfully get you through the GED test challenge.

9 Ways to Ease Anxiety about the GED Test

You may be the type of person who experiences a lot of anxiety and panic before taking a test. Instead of working yourself up as test day approaches, spend your energy and time preparing for the GED test. Do whatever you can to reduce your anxiety and increase your preparation.

Here are some ways you can lower your anxiety, starting from signing up to take the test and continuing all the way to test day:

  • Make your way through one or more test-prep books, such as GED Test For Dummies, 3rd Edition (Wiley). These books will give you an idea of what to expect on test day.

  • Take as many pretests as you can to get used to answering questions in the GED test format. Doing so helps you get familiar with what you'll see on the real GED test.

  • Double-check the time and place of each test. The last thing you want to worry about on your way to the test is whether the time and place are right.

  • Plan a route to get to the test site in plenty of time, and plan an alternate route in case any traffic problems arise. Planning your route is important and will ensure that you arrive relaxed and on time. Know the cost and availability of parking, if you drive.

  • Arrive at the test site early and prepared. Arriving late for the GED test will leave you standing outside the test room, which means you'll have to prepare all over again and take the test the next time it's offered.

  • Arrive well rested. Falling asleep during the GED test may provide an amusing story for everyone else in the room, but, for you, it would be a disaster. Arrive well rested and stay alert for the entire test — you'll be glad you did when you get your results back.

  • Take a few deep breaths and picture yourself acing the test. Tricks like this one can help you relax and see yourself as being successful.

  • Remind yourself of all the preparation you've done. By the time test day rolls around, you've done everything you can do in the way of preparation. Now all you have to do is take the test!

  • Repeat a mantra to yourself to help reduce any anxiety. In the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I'm in charge of my panic, and I'm going to send it on vacation — now!" Whenever you feel any anxiety popping up, repeat the saying a few times. Doing so may sound silly, but it really does work.

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