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What is a GED?

If you were unable to complete your high school education, you can earn a high school equivalency credential by passing the General Education Development test. The GED measures an adult's high school-level knowledge and skills in five subject areas. This credential is recognized as a key to employment opportunities, advancement and further education.

In 1942, the GED test was created to help military personnel and veterans earn a high school credential to get into the workforce. Over time, it was expanded, and more than 19 million Americans have earned a high school equivalency credential through the GED Testing Service.

People who successfully pass the exams receive a GED credential, but it is up to the administrating jurisdiction — such as the state, military facility or Veterans Affairs hospital — to determine the name of the credential, commonly 'diploma' or 'certificate of completion.' Each state manages official testing centers and controls the eligibility requirements, passing requirements and prerequisites for obtaining a high school credential.

Obtaining your GED credential is an important first step that should be completed before moving on to obtaining any type of work credential, such as an office administration or medical office automation certificate. Be mindful of for-profit organizations promising a work credential as part of a GED course or exam fee. If you are unsure about preparation course or exam fee options, call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 to speak to a SECO career coach before making a commitment.

How and where to take the test

The GED is a computer-based test, delivered in a testing center on a computer, which requires basic computer skills. There are currently no online testing options to earn a GED credential.

To find the closest official testing center and the date of the next practice class or actual exam, contact your state Department of Education office. Be sure to identify any special accommodations you may require when you contact them about testing location options.

Testing centers are often located in:

  • Installation education centers
  • Community colleges
  • Public schools

Be careful about advertisements for classes helping you prepare to take the GED test. Your state Department of Education can connect you to online and face-to-face classes in your area and resources that are often free. For help preparing for the GED, you can:

  • Check with your local installation education center
  • Speak with your state Department of Education
  • Find an Adult Literacy Center in your area
  • Check your local library for resources

Passing the GED test is a big milestone. It will provide an important credential that will help you pursue your goals for higher education and a brighter employment future.

Once you pass the GED, you may want to consider taking the ACT WorkKeys, an adult education assessment geared toward attaining the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate, a portable credential that demonstrates achievement and a certain level of workplace employability skills.

If you need additional information on completing your secondary and postsecondary education, visit the Identify an Education Path section of the Education, Training and Licensing lifecycle stage of MySECO. You can also speak with a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or use the Live Chat feature on the MySECO website for additional guidance.

To find your installation education center, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS and select 'Spouse Education, Training and Careers' from the list of programs and services. Enter your installation or ZIP code, choose the radius you would like to search within and click ‘Search’ to find a point of contact near you.

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