There are lots of reasons why some people just do not get to graduate with a high school diploma, often because of circumstances that made continuing on in high school difficult. However, whatever the reason that a person may not have obtained a high school diploma all is not lost – you can still take a GED ( General Educational Development) course and test to obtain a certification that can open the door to higher education, better paying job opportunities and the chance to achieve the career you always wanted after all.
What is the GED?
The General Educational Development (GED) test was developed out of necessity. During World War II many young men were called into service before they could graduate high school and many young women were forced to leave school to help take care of their families. To try to help ensure that these young people still had the chance at a great future once the war was over, the American military branches asked the American Council on Education (ACE) to create tests that would measure high school-level academic skills. Passing these new tests gave returning members of the armed forces and other young people forced to leave school because of the war the academic credentials they needed to get decent jobs and advance into post-secondary education.
As the GED stands today it is a series of five tests that measure the level of knowledge a candidate has across the following areas of study; math, social studies, science, reading and writing. In all seven hours and forty five minutes are allowed to complete all of the tests, although often these days the test taking can be broken up into far more manageable chunks.
Every US State (and Canadian province, as the GED is also available in Canada) has its own specific guidelines about who can take the GED, but generally a candidate must be at least 17 years old (16 in a handful of US states) and not enrolled in a traditional high school. If a candidate passes the tests with a reasonable score then they are awarded a GED diploma, a qualification which is accepted by most employers and many secondary education institutes as an acceptable equivalent to a high school diploma.
The GED Today
For years the standard way to take the GED was to sit a traditional paper based exam at a testing center. This has changed since the advent of the Internet and now almost all testing is done online. In fact, as of 2014 the GED Testing Service, the body that oversees all GED testing, will phase out paper based examinations altogether. GED testing centers will still be the only approved places to take the test however, to safeguard against cheating. Therefore if you see an ad that claims you can take the GED test online it is a scam.
What you can easily do online however is study and prepare for the test, something that makes it possible for those who would have difficulty travelling to a GED class to prepare for the test in a manner that fits their schedule. You can purchase standard GED study books or complete an online course of study that some people find easier, at least in terms of understanding and comprehending the material and receiving feedback.
The one thing that does vary wildly is the cost of taking the GED test and of the materials you need to study for it. In 2013 the cost of the actual test itself varied from $7.50 for those taking it at North Carolina Community Colleges to $150 for those sitting the test at a center in California! Therefore you will have to check what the cost will be in your state.
As to the cost of study, again it varies. If you want to follow an online course of study research carefully before enrolling in any one program. There are a great many excellent programs available on the Internet but there are also plenty of scams, so do proceed with caution.