How to Use the GED Mathematical Reasoning Test’s Special Features

By Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth, Achim K. Krull

During the GED Mathematical Reasoning test, you can use the built-in calculator for all but the first five questions. Before you start celebrating, remember that the calculator is an instrument that makes calculations easier. It doesn’t solve problems or perform other miracles. You still have to solve the problems, using the computer between your ears.

The test also has a formula sheet. This feature also isn’t a miracle to work out problems for you. It’s just a memory aid if you don’t remember the formulas. And as a special treat, the Math test also provides symbols for you to use in the fill-in-the blank items as needed.

Solve questions with and without a calculator

For all but the first five items in the Math test, you can use a calculator. You have to finish the first five items before you go on to questions that use the calculator. To pull up the calculator on the computerized GED Math test, click on the calculator icon. A calculator — a Texas Instruments TI-30XS calculator to be exact — appears on-screen.

It’s a good idea to get familiar with the calculator before taking the GED test. You can either use the one on the GED Testing Service website for practice or find an identical hand-held one. The computer version operates just like the hand-held device. Make sure you know how to solve the various types of mathematical problems and depend on the calculator only to do mechanical operations quicker and easier.

Often, solving a problem without a calculator is easier, especially with multiple-choice questions where you have four answer choices to choose from. And the more questions you practice in your head, the easier it will be. Here are some ways to practice solving problems in your head (without a calculator):

  • When you go shopping, add up the items as you put them in the cart.

  • Calculate discounts off items you see or buy when you shop.

  • Be the first at your table in a restaurant to figure out the tip. And for bonus practice, figure out different tip percentages on your bill, such as 10, 15, 18, and 20 percent tips.

For multiple-choice questions, sometimes estimating the answer to a question is easier and faster. For example, 4.2 × 8.9 is almost 4 × 9, which equals 36. If you see only one answer choice that’s close to 36, that answer is probably correct. If you see that all the answer choices are close to 36, however, you need to spend time calculating the exact answer.

Although you may be able to solve problems in your head, always work them out to verify you have the correct answer.

Refresh your memory with the formula sheet

The GED Math test includes a formula sheet with a list of formulas you may need for the test. You simply click on the formula icon to make the page of formulas appear. Unfortunately, no genie will appear to tell you which formula to use. Figuring out which formula you need is your job.

To get familiar with the formulas you may need on the GED test, study common mathematical formulas, and make sure you know their purpose. Then make sure you understand what kind of problem you can use each formula for.

For example, if you have a formula for the volume of a rectangular cube and the question asks you how many cubic feet of water a swimming pool contains, you know this formula will let you work out the answer. If the question asks you how many tiles it’d take to go around the rim of the pool, you need another formula.

Insert special symbols

When answering fill-in-the-blank items, you sometimes need special symbols. Fortunately, the Math test provides such symbols on the screen behind the special icon. These formulas are mainly math operators, such as add or subtract, greater than or less than, and so on. You have to know what they mean and how to use them.

To make a symbol appear in the fill-in-the-blank box on the test, click on the symbols icon, and then click on the symbol you want to include in the box.