General Educational Development (or GED) tests are a group of five subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has American or Canadian high school-level academic skills. The GED is also referred to as a General Education Diploma, General Equivalency Diploma, or Graduate Equivalency Degree. To pass the GED Tests and earn a GED credential, test takers must score higher than 60 percent of graduating high school seniors nationwide. Some jurisdictions require that students pass additional tests such as an English proficiency exam or civics test.
The American Council on Education is the sole developer for the GED test. The test is always taken in person and never available online. Jurisdictions award a "Certificate of General Educational Development" or similarly titled credential to persons who meet the passing score requirements. Only individuals who have not earned a high school diploma may take the GED tests. The tests were originally created to help veterans after World War II return to civilian life. Common reasons for GED recipients not having received a high school diploma include immigration to the United States or Canada, homeschooling, leaving high school early, the inability to pass required courses or mandatory achievement tests, the need to work, personal problems, and wanting to get into college early.
More than 15 million people have received a GED credential since the program began. One in every seven Americans with high school credentials received the GED, as well as one in 20 college students. Seventy percent of GED recipients complete at least the 10th grade before leaving school, and the same number are over the age of 19, with the average age being 24.
In addition to English, the GED tests are available in Spanish, French, large print, audio cassette, and braille. Tests and test preparation are routinely offered in prisons and on military bases in addition to more traditional settings. Individuals living outside the United States, Canada, or U.S. territories may be eligible to take the GED Tests through private testing companies.