Earning a GED for English as a Second Language Candidates

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

If your first language is French or Spanish, you may perform better on the GED test by taking it, or at least certain sections of it, in your native language. The GED test is available in English, Spanish, and French. However, language options vary across the United States. Only some states allow students to combine GED Spanish or French test sections with the English language GED test sections.

Not all states offer the GED test in Spanish and French. For example, Texas and California offer the tests in all three languages, whereas Virginia offers only the English and Spanish versions. Although Texas allows you to combine Spanish or French GED test sections with other sections taken in English, California doesn’t.

If your first language is something other than English, Spanish, or French, seriously consider taking and passing the GED Testing Service’s English as a Second Language (ESL) test first to ensure your English proficiency equips you to pass the English version of the GED test. The ESL test combines newspaper articles with ads, flyers, and other printed information a person would routinely encounter. Twenty-five percent of the questions ask for answers based on content, while 75 percent ask test-takers to interpret content and draw conclusions from the material presented.

If your first language is Spanish or French, you should also consider the ESL test. Passing the ESL test demonstrates English proficiency to employers or colleges. English proficiency is especially important if you want to combine sections of the Spanish or French version of the GED test with the standard English-language version.

The rules for accessing the Spanish and French tests and combining language sections, and the requirement for successfully completing the ESL test, vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In some states, even candidates who successfully complete the GED test in Spanish or French must then also pass the ESL test to receive a high school equivalency diploma.

The GED test rules and local rules evolve over time. Check with your local school board or state Department of Education to find out more about the rules in your jurisdiction.