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Adult Education: GED vs High School Diploma

For adults looking to get a high school diploma, the General Education Development (GED) diploma offers the most widely recognized equivalency option and is available to international students. With the advent of online education and distance learning, it is no surprise that GED test resources, such as study guides and groups, are now also offered online, making it easier for mature students to receive their high school diploma equivalency. But does the reputation of the GED hold as much credibility as a high school diploma among employers? And is the GED diploma suited for you?


What is the GED?

The General Education Development (GED) Diploma is a certificate given to individuals who have passed a series of tests in the areas of writing, social studies, science, literature and art interpretation, and mathematics. The certificate is considered an equivalent to a high school diploma according to The Center for Adult Learning and Education Credentials. This division of the American Council on Education has been responsible for overseeing the testing procedure since 1942.


Writing The GED Test

The actual GED test must be written in an official testing centre designated in each state. There are approximately 34,000 testing centers throughout the United States, and GED tests are offered internationally in other languages such as French and Spanish. Accommodations can also be made for students with special needs including extended time; Braille and audiocassette GED tests are also available.

There may be a fee of up to $80 required in order to take the GED test in some states.


GED Resources

While no online GED test is currently available, there are many online education and distance learning resources available for individuals looking to prepare for the GED test. The following are some GED study resources that are available for adults looking for a more remote means of education:


  • GED preparation books are available for independent students who prefer to study on their own and in the privacy of their home. These GED study guides are available in individual subject areas as well as in overall GED comprehension at a local bookstore
  • Many public broadcasting stations and education channels offer free GED classes on television and may be accompanied by GED work books. Scheduling times vary from one state to another
  • Adult GED preparation classes are available for individuals who prefer a group setting
  • State programs providing online GED preparation which, while free, have limited space for registration
  • Commercial sites offer GED instruction courses which are often based on your score upon completion of an online GED preparation test
  • Online GED preparation tests may be taken on their own to give an independent learner a sense of what the test will be like and where he or she stands

There are minimal requirements that an individual must meet in order to be eligible to take the GED, which vary depending on the state. An individual must be at least sixteen years of age in order to take the GED test, and the average age of individuals taking the GED is 24.


A GED Diploma vs. A High School Diploma

While theoretically the GED Diploma is considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma, some studies suggest that there is employer bias when it comes to hiring individuals with the GED diploma. However, the GED offers a great alternative for adults seeking continuing education at the post-secondary level, since a GED diploma is accepted by 95% of colleges and universities. In addition, a 1998 study found that individuals who had received a GED diploma reported to have gained valuable skills and confidence in the job market.

Aside from GED, there are other alternatives available to adults or mature students looking to gain their high school diploma. These include the following:


  • External High School Diploma (EDP)
  • Foreign High School Diploma
  • High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) in Wisconsin
  • Adult-oriented high schools
  • Distance learning
  • Correspondence courses
  • Online high schools


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