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. The American Council on Education is the sole developer for the GED test. The test is taken in person. 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 adult 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, audiocassette, 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.