EDUCATION: More than job-training

What’s the GED?

This weekend I attended a talk on our local drug court where I learned that one of the requirements for graduation from the program is the attainment of the GED. According to the speaker, the achievement of the GED is a life changer for many young adults who are trying to pick up the pieces of a misspent youth.

Although everyone has heard of the GED, there seems to be some uncertainty as to what the initials stand for. Two common interpretations are: “General Education Diploma” and “General Equivalency Diploma.”

In fact, GED. stands for General Educational Development. It’s the creation of the American Council on Education (ACE). The test was developed at the end of World War II to help returning veterans whose educations had been disrupted by war. In these days, the GED is offered to men and women whose educations have been disrupted by any number of social or personal problems.

The GED is a group of five subject tests:


Social Studies




The highest score possible is 800. The ACE sets a passing score of 410 on each of the subject tests and an average score of 450 for all five tests. States administer the GED in different ways, but one aspect is the same everywhere: the exam must be taken in a supervised environment.

WARNING: If you find a website that offers to let you take the GED online, beware of a scam. The genuine GED is not offered online because there is no way to establish the identity of the test taker.

According the the ACE,

The GED test measures whether a person has the academic skills and knowledge expected of high school graduates in the United States or Canada, thus allowing adults who lack a high school diploma to certify that they possess the equivalent of a traditional high school education.

Not everyone agrees that the GED is the equivalent of a high school education, but then–not everyone would agree that what some students graduate with after a full 12 years in school is the equivalent of a high school education.

Whatever academic level the GED may represent, perhaps the most important thing about it is that it’s a tangible achievement for adults who have experienced chaos in their lives.  For the individual who earns it, it’s a significant milestone on a lifelong quest for self-improvement.

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