2016 GED Changes

The passing score for the GED® test is now 145 instead of 150. 

If you scored between 145-149 on a GED® test subject in the past, your status has changed from fail to pass.
Log into MyGED® to see your updated status.

There are now three score levels you can earn on your test.
GED® Passing Score (145-164), GED® College Ready (165-174), and GED® College Ready + Credit (175-200)

The GED® with Honors score has been replaced by two new score levels that show you’re ready for college or a career-training program, and in some cases eligible to earn college credits.


GED Overview

  • There are four subjects:
    1. Reasoning Through Language Arts (English)
    2. Math
    3. Science
    4. Social Studies
  • The minimum passing score in each subject is 145 on a scale of 100 to 200.
  • You can’t pass the test if you fail any one subject.
  • The test is taken on a computer, so you must be computer literate and competent with a keyboard and mouse.
  • Students will need some level of content knowledge at a “definition level.”
  • A formula sheet is provided for the Math section.
  • An on-screen calculator is provided for certain questions in the Math, Science and Social Studies sections.
  • There is no penalty for a wrong answer.

Reasoning Through Language Arts

Duration: 150 minutes total – including 45 minutes for an essay

  • The length of the text included in the reading comprehension questions vary from between 450 to 900 words.
  • Seventy-Five Percent (75%) of the texts on the exam are informational.
  • Twenty-Five Percent (25%) of the tests on the exam are literature.
  • Poetry does not appear on the 2014 GED test.

Extended Response

There is one essay for this section that is worth 6 times more than a multiple choice question. Students are presented with two passages describing opposing perspectives on a topic. Test-takers are required to decide which argument has the most support. The essay is graded by three criteria in equal proportions:

  1. Creation of an argument and the use of evidence.
  2. Development of ideas and organizational structure.
  3. Clarity and command of Standard English conventions.

With this grading criteria, even students for whom English is a second language can still score 4 or 5 out of 6 for an otherwise well written essay. Don’t worry about editing your essay to polish it up. Essays are graded as if they are a first draft. However, it is important that you complete the essay. Start by creating an outline and don’t spend too much time on any one part. Also keep in mind that short essays tend to receive lower scores, so, if your typing speed is slow, practice with typing programs.

Mathematical Reasoning

Duration: 115 minutes

Approximately 45% of the content focuses on quantitative problem solving and 55% focuses on algebraic problem solving. The section is broken down into 4 parts:

  1. Number operations and number sense. (20-30%)
  2. Measurement and geometry. (20-30%)
  3. Data analysis (charts and graphs), statistics, and probability. (20-30%)
  4. Algebra, functions, and patterns. (20-30%)

The first five questions test your foundation of arithmetic skills and do not allow the use of any calculator. The skills required include the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), exponents, roots, and basic number sense. Test-takers are expected to know basic formulas such as the areas (of square, rectangle, triangle, circles), perimeters, the circumference of a circle, distances, measures of central tendency (mean, median, and mode) and total cost. Some more specific skills that are now required for the math section are awareness of absolute values, rational numbers, and polynomials (basic algebra). You will NOT be asked about trigonometry or calculus. Some basic arithmetic skills are actually spread throughout the GED test. For example, data interpretation questions are now also seen in the Science and Social Studies portions of the test.


Duration: 90 minutes

The Science section is divided into three parts:

  1. Physical Science (Chemistry and Physics) – 40%
  2. Life Science – 40%
  3. Earth and Space Science – 20%

These cover smaller topics including the system of living organisms, diseases, evolution, heredity, sources of energy, transformations of energy, uses of energy, and Earth’s geochemical systems, to name a few. The science section also includes two short answer questions. Each is worth 3 times as much as a multiple choice question. The short answers are not timed separately but test makers suggest students spend about 10 minutes on each of them and write a paragraph. The environment, ecosystem, and human activities are important themes in the science section and are often the subject of the short answer questions. Other frequent topics are the scientific method and experimental design. A clear and complete explanation will receive a high score and grammar is not considered a part of the grade for these answers.

Social Studies

Duration: 70 minutes total 

The four high level topics covered in the Social Studies section are:

  1. Civics and Government – 50%
  2. U.S History – 20%
  3. Economics – 15%
  4. Geography and the World – 15%

The Social Studies section requires similar analysis skills needed in the “Reading through Language Arts” section. Students should be able to identify bias in a passage, understand tone, point-of-view and structure. Skills more specific to Social Studies are, an awareness and understanding of chronological order and the historical aspect of a passage. Students should also be able to understand charts and graphs that represent Social Studies data.

GED eliminate the extended response section of the social studies test beginning March 1, 2016.

Practice Makes Perfect

Be sure to get used to the computer format, practice writing essays in a timed setting, and take the free practice tests at http://www.gedtestingservice.com/educators/freepracticetest before you take the actual test. You can get special accommodations, such as extra test time or breaks, by making a special request and providing documentation of the reason the accommodation before the test day.



Leah Staub contributed to this article.



  1. kate

    I have a GED and some college education but no degree. When applying for a job, must I specifically state that I have a GED or can I simply state I have a high school diploma? would stating I have a high school diploma be fraudulent and grounds for termination?

    • Nalin Singal

      You can list the name of your college and the number of credits you have on your resume. Unless the job application specifically distinguishes between GED and high school diplomas, you can safely state you have a high school education.

  2. Lauren Cruz

    Hi. Can someone tell me if you can still pass the Science test if you fail the two Short-Answer responses, but answer everything else correctly? Thanks!

    • Nalin Singal

      A short answer question may have more points than a regular multiple choice question but there is no minimum score requirement on them to pass the science test. Missing both the short answer question won’t prevent you from passing if you have enough points from multiple choice questions.

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  4. Graham

    Yay, I actually scored 149. This is grat news.
    I was afraid that I used some help, but since I passed this matters not.
    thank you one more time.

    • Hi , I need to take the GED. My situation I graduated with all high school credits. But I did not pass Fcat. All colleges admissions recommend I take the GED. I have little bit of test anxiety. Is the new test harder?

  5. timothy

    hi i was wondering about the GED testing and if there writing part to the testing or has it been taken out.?
    if its not in there does it effect old test scored
    ty for your time

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  8. Minot ALC

    Can anyone direct me to the school uniform extended response passages that the videos are centered around? I am looking to use the videos in my classroom but would like the passages that go with it.


  9. Mahash

    I need the new GED 2014 all subject key answer. I’m very poor so i don’t have money for study GED classes.Who is the best person Please! help me.

  10. Rebecca

    The GED test is much more difficult that itcwas in the past. I know of many people who have completely given up trying to pass the exam. Its really a shame many of them are older and have been out of school for years.. Some of them, English is a second language..very sad

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