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Test: At a Glance

Reading | Writing | Social Studies | Science | Math

Language Arts: Reading Test: At a Glance

The test is 65 minutes long. The passages that appear on the test reflect the types of texts that would normally be encountered during a high school program of study.

Seventy-five percent of the questions on the Language Arts Reading Test are based on literary texts, with one passage from each of the following areas:

  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Prose fiction before 1920
  • Prose fiction between 1920 and 1960
  • Prose fiction after 1960

Nonfiction texts comprise the remaining 25 percent of the test and include two of the following types of prose:

  • Nonfiction prose
  • Critical review of visual and performing arts
  • Workplace and community documents, such as articles related to employee behavior, legal documents, letters, memos, reports, etc.


Each reading passage is a self-contained unit that has a beginning, middle, and end to ensure that students do not have to have print knowledge of a specific literary or nonfiction passage. The passages range in length from 200 to 400 words. Excerpts from poetry are 8 to 25 lines in length. Each passage is followed by 4 to 8 multiple-choice questions.

A purpose question orients the examinee to the passage. Since the examinee does not need to possess specific prior knowledge about a given passage, this purpose question helps set the stage for the examinee and provide a purpose for reading the text.

Cognitive Level of Questions

The GED Language Arts Reading Test measures a range of comprehension and interpretation skills of the examinee, including:

  • Comprehension questions (20 percent) that assess the ability to understand the basic meaning and intent of a passage
  • Application questions (30-35 percent) that assess the ability to use information in a new context or situation
  • Analysis questions (30-35 percent) that assess the ability to understand literary language
  • Synthesis questions (30-35 percent) that assess the ability to make connections among various parts of the text, or to integrate information from outside the passage with information from within the passage


Language Arts: Writing Test: At a Glance

The test is 120 minutes long. Examinees are given 75 minutes for Part I and then told to begin Part II. Examinees then have 45 minutes for Part II. If an examinee takes less than 45 minutes for the essay, he or she can go back to Part I.

Part I-Multiple Choice

  • Part I has 50 multiple choice items, based on three passages. The passages are 12-20 sentences long (200-300 words) and may have several paragraphs.
  • The passages are drawn from how-to texts, informational articles, and community and workplace documents.
  • The content areas for Language Arts Writing Test, Part I * are
    • Organization 15%
    • Sentence structure 30%
    • Usage 30%
    • Mechanics 25%
  • Three basic item types are used on Part I of the Language Arts Writing Test:
    • Correction 45%
    • Revision 35%
    • Construction shift 20%

Part II-Essay

  • In Part II, examinees write an original essay on a specified topic.
  • The essay is scored holistically by two trained readers, using a four-point scale: 1. inadequate; 2. marginal; 3. adequate; 4. effective. The two scores are averaged.
  • Readers are trained to look for the following characteristics in the essays:
    • Response to the prompt
    • Organization
    • Development and details
    • Conventions of Edited American English
    • Word Choice
  • A combined score is provided for Parts I and II. The essay must be passed with a score of 2 or higher I order for an individual to receive a score for the Language Arts Writing Test.


Social Studies Test: At a Glance

The test contains 50 multiple choice questions and is 70 minutes long. The questions address the experiences of the student in his/her role as a citizen, consumer, and worker. Approximately 60 percent of the questions take a global or international perspective, while 40 percent reflect a national setting.

The Social Studies Test includes questions from each of the following areas:

  • History (United States and World)-40%
  • Geography-15%
  • Civics and Government-25%
  • Economics-20%

Each form of the test includes an excerpt from at least one of the following historical documents:

  • Declaration of Independence
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Landmark Supreme Court cases
  • Federalist Papers

Each form of the test includes one practical document that adults might encounter in their roles as citizens, consumers, and workers, such as consumer information, voters' guides, etc.


The multiple-choice questions on the Social Studies Tests are based on a variety of types of materials:

  • Prose passages drawn fro sources such as historical narratives, editorials, newspapers, news magazines
  • Graphic-based material such as maps, charts, graphs, tables, photographs, and political cartoons

Questions may be based on a passage only, a graphic only, or a combination of a passage and graphic. Approximately 60 percent of the questions are based on a graphic or combination of a passage and graphic. Passages sre generally no more than 200 words.

Cognitive Level of Questions

  • The GED Social Studies Test assesses a range of cognitive skill levels of the examinee. Including Comprehension questions (20 percent) that measure the examinee's ability to understand the basic meaning and intent of a passage or graphic
  • Application questions (20 percent) that assess the ability to use information in a new context or situation
  • Analysis questions (40 percent) that assess the ability to use information in a new context or situation
  • Evaluation questions (20 percent) that assess the ability to make judgments about the information based on criteria provided in the passage or graphic


Science Test: At a Glance

The test contains 50 multiple-choice questions and is 80 minutes long. The Science Test includes an emphasis on health and the environment, as well as the impact of science on an individual in his or her role as a worker, family member, consumer, and citizen.

The GED Science Test covers each of the following content areas:

  • Physical Science (physics and chemistry)-35%
  • Life Science-45%
  • Earth and Space Science-20%


The Science Test includes items based on

  • Prose material, which varies in length from a single question stem to more complex passages
  • Graphic-based material, such as graphs, charts, tahles, and diagrams
  • A combination of prose and graphic-based material

Approximately 60 percent of the questions are presented with graphic-based material, reducing the amount of text required so that students can focus on interpreting and analyzing graphics. All passages and graphics represent real-life situations.

Cognitive Level of Questions

The GED Science Test was developed using the National Science Education Standards (NSES), five interdisciplinary themes in the study of science.

  • Unifying concepts and processes-the application of science in everyday life
  • Science as inquiry-the scientific methods and procedures that are normally used to obtain evidence.
  • Science as technology-how tools are designed and used in modern society
  • Science in social and personal perspectives-the evaluation of science and its role in relation to self and society
  • History and nature of science-how scientific concepts and processes meet human needs over time

The GED Science Test requires that students use critical thinking skills, such as application, analysis, and evaluation, to answer questions that are provided in a real-life context.


Math Test: At a Glance

  • The GED Mathematics Test has 50 items. Of these, 40 are multiple-choice, and 10 alternate format (bubble grids and coordinate plane grids) based on readings, graphs, tables, and diagrams.
  • Half of the Mathematics Test items are based on graphics
    • Number Operation and Number Sense 20%-30%
    • Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability 20%-30%
    • Algebra, Functions, and Patterns 20%-30%
    • Measurement and Geometry 20%-30%
  • On Part I of the GED Math Test, students use a Casio fx-260 scientific calculator (provided at the testing center).
  • After Part I is completed, the Part I booklets and the calculators are collected.
  • A page of math formulas is provided for reference during the test.
  • The test is 90 minutes long.


The GED 2002 Math Test is divided into two parts. Both parts consist of 25 questions. On Part I of the test, the examinee may use the Casio fx-260 scientific calculator to compute answers. The calculator will not me permitted on Part II of the test It is important that your students have many opportunities to practice using the Casio fx-260 scientific calculator so they will be comfortable with its use when they are taking the test. You can get this calculator from many office supply and discount stores or by contacting the GED Fulfillment Center through the GED Testing Service.

One important feature of the GED Math Test is that it uses a variety of formats. While 40 of the 50 questions are multiple-choice, 10 of the questions require students to fill in a grid. Grids will appear on both parts of the test.

  • Eight questions require examinees to "bubble-in" a standard grid.
  • Two questions require examinees to bubble in answers on a coordinate grid.

Cognitive Level of Questions

The GED 2002 Math Test assesses a student's ability to solve three types of questions:

  • Procedural
  • Conceptual
  • Analytical/Modeling/Problem Solving

The GED Math Test assesses an understanding of mathematical concepts and the application of those concepts to various situations. The test:

  • Measures problem solving, analytical and reasoning skills
  • Determines whether a student can interpret information from both word problems and graphic formats, including charts, tables, graphs, and diagrams
  • Presents many problems in real-life contexts
  • Provides a formulas page for reference during the test
  • Allows students to use the Casio fx-260 scientific calculator on Part 1 of the test
  • Requires students to record answers of standard or coordinate grids for some questions