For students who don’t complete high school, there’s a standardized test known as the GED that can prove a person has the equivalent of a 12th-grade education. The GED, which stands for the General Educational Development exam, was taken by 300,000 in 2017. The pass rate for that year was 79%, according to statistics from Education Week

After completing and passing the GED, students can list it on job applications and college applications. 

To help students complete their GED, which many people refer to as a high school equivalency test, they might consider using a prep course. A prep course can provide study materials and practice tests in one online portal, making it easy to study. 

For those thinking about prep classes, we’ve created this guide that explores everything you should know about the process. We’ll cover: 

  •   What’s on the GED?
  •   How is the GED scored?
  •   Why do you need a GED prep course?
  •   Who needs a GED prep course?
  •   Things to consider before selecting a GED prep course
  •   How to choose a GED prep course
  •   Frequently Asked Questions About the GED
  •   The best GED prep courses to consider

What’s on the GED?

The GED is a high school equivalency exam that tests a student’s academic skills. Before thinking about a prep course, students should know what the test covers. 

The GED has four different subjects: Science, Social Studies, Mathematical Reasoning, and Reasoning Through Language Arts. 

The GED is a standardized test, which means it’s taken at a test center with a proctor present. The GED is a fairly long test. It takes about 7.5 hours to complete it.  

How is the GED scored?

The GED is scored by section. A student can earn between 100-200 points on each section. To pass, a student must earn at least 145 points on all four of the subjects for a total of at least 580 points. The highest score is 800. 

Each subject must be passed individually. However, students don’t have to take all four sections at the same time, and can always retake the section that they failed – without having to do the entire test over again. 

Once all four sections have a passing grade, a student will earn a GED credential, which is the equivalent of a high school diploma.  

Why do you need a GED prep course?

For anyone considering a GED prep course, there are several reasons to go through with one. Here’s a look at why people opt for a prep course:

If school hasn’t been part of your routine for years

Adults that have full-time jobs and have been away from school for years may want to consider a GED prep course. The courses can serve as a refresher and help you pass the test the first time. 

To pass the test and be done

Ideally, anyone who takes the exam will take it once, pass it, and be done with it. If you don’t study, you might be able to do that, but your odds of success go up if you use a prep course. 

There are free options

There are free GED resources and prep classes available online. If there are resources out there that can help you achieve your goal for free, why not use them?

Access resources in one place

There are many GED books, study guides, articles, and tips online, but it takes time to find them all. Rather than spend time searching for helpful content, a prep course has everything all in one place. When you have time to study, log in, do a little work, and move on with your day. The convenience factor for a GED prep course shouldn’t be overlooked. 

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Who needs a GED prep course?

For students wondering if a prep course is right for them, here’s who typically takes the courses: 

Students looking to score well

For students looking to pass all four sections the first time and earn a good score, a prep course is ideal. 

Students who struggle with tests

There are some students who simply aren’t good test-takers. Rather than shy away from this test, students who get test-day jitters say preparing for the exam calms their anxiety and gives them a chance to focus on the task at hand. 

Students who are willing to do the work

Prep courses require students to set aside time to study. Attending classes is part of the process, but working at home is part of the process too. 

Things to consider before selecting a GED prep course

When you’re ready to select a GED prep course, here’s what to consider: 

Commitment level

To get the most out of a prep course, students have to put in the work. Going to class or attending an online course is just the start, students will have homework and will need to study. 


A prep course takes time, so people with busy schedules may find courses that fit within their needs. People who take the GED are at different points in their lives. Some are teenagers while others are adults with full-time jobs and a family. A person’s life and responsibilities should guide the type of prep course selected.


The cost of prep courses varies. There are some free online resources that students enjoy and there are professional companies that specialize in prep courses that charge a few hundred dollars. As you research different options, be sure to explore the cost of each course. 

How to choose a GED prep course

There’s a lot of test prep resources out there, but for those who are ready to commit to a prep course, here’s what you should look for: 

Pick a format

While there are some in-person GED classes, most of them are online or on-demand. What kind of learning format is best for you? How do you learn best? By knowing the answer to these questions, students can search for the right solution. 

Free or paid classes?

There are some free GED study materials online and there are also more convenient online portals that offer lessons, practice exams, and other materials all in one place. Consider whether or not you want to pay for lessons or if you want to find free resources. 

Look of a course that’s easy to navigate

Everyone is busy, the last thing you need is to spend time looking for resources rather than actually using them. As you explore different options, look for sites that are easy to navigate. If there’s a way to try a platform for free for a limited time, do it. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the GED

For those new to the world of GED testing, here are answers to a few frequently asked questions:

Can a GED help a student get into college?

Yes. Nearly all colleges and universities in the United States accept the GED.

How much does it cost to take the GED?

Students do have to pay to the GED. The cost varies by state. Usually, states charge a certain amount per subject. Florida, for example, charges $32 for each subject. The total cost of the entire exam is $128. If a Florida student needs to retake a subject, he or she only pays $32.

Where can students sign up for the GED?

To find a testing center near you and schedule an exam, visit Pearson Vue Network, a GED testing service.

Can a student take the exam online?

No. Standardized tests like the GED are administered at a testing center to make sure no one cheats. 

What should a student bring to the exam?

Students need a photo ID that contains your name and date of birth on it. This information should match the information given to the testing center when you registered for the exam.

If a student fails certain subjects, can he or she retake the exam?

Yes. Students can retake each subject up to three times in one year. You won’t have to retake the entire exam, just the subjects that didn’t receive a passing score. 

The best GED prep courses to consider

For students planning to take a GED prep course, there’s a lot of choices to sift through. To help narrow the search, here’s a list of the best GED prep courses to consider:

1. Essential Education

  • Price: Starting at $19 a month
  • Format: Online learning materials
  • Best for: People with a busy life and hectic schedule

Essential Education offers easy-to-understand lessons. Students will take a practice test to start, which identifies the areas to focus on. The practice test helps students focus on areas they need to improve, rather than on the subject areas they do well on. 

After the practice test, students get a personalized learning plan. The lessons are bite-sized to make it easy to squeeze a lesson in before dinner or while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office, for example.

If students are willing to put in the time, Essential Education says you’ll pass the GED – no sweat. 

The cost to enroll in this program is $19 a month. Once you’re done with the program, cancel your enrollment. Set a calendar reminder to cancel the programs so you don’t forget and pay more than should.  


  • Price: Free
  • Format: Online learning materials
  • Best for: Students on a budget offers a free resource center that gives students access to practice tests, quizzes, and interactive lessons. The lessons are short, video lessons with quizzes that follow. A written transcript of the videos is also included. 

The program is designed for students to study 30 minutes two times a week at their own pace. After completing the lessons and passing the readiness exam, students can schedule their GED test at a testing center. 

This resource is free. While it’s not as user-friendly as other others, it does have all of the necessary materials in one place and, again, it has an affordable price – free. 


  • Price: $129
  • Format: In-person, online, on-demand
  • Best for: Students who want structured classes offers classes in-person, online, and on-demand. To find GED classes in an area near you, the site offers a search function to locate classrooms. has an online class called GED Live, which has 60-minute classes that focus on all four subjects. All of the study materials are available online and on mobile devices too.  

The cost of the online classes is $129 and gives students access to the platform for 90 days.


  • Format: Video lessons
  • Best for: Students who want a refresher has several GED test preparation courses. The most popular option is the $59.99 plan with 79,000 video lessons, 60,000 quizzes, and practice tests.

The platform organizes video lessons by subject so students can pick which subjects to work more on and which ones need a little less attention. All of the video lessons are taught by professional teachers and are meant to provide both educational value and entertainment to your study space.