Updated November 24, 2017
For individuals who’ve never completed high school, earning a General Education Diploma (GED) online sounds like a very attractive option. Also known as General Educational development and High School Equivalency (HSE), it’s the best option for getting a better job.
High school graduates have historically performed better in college and in the work force than those who dropped out of school.
Earnings: Is High School Even Worth My Time?
High school diploma holders earn $10,000 more per year on average than workers without a high school diploma ($35,086 per year compared to $24,963, as seen in the chart).
The chart below depicts earning levels based on education in three categories:
- Those with less than a high school diploma earn approximately $24,963
- Those with a high school diploma earn approximately $35,086
- Those with some college but no degree earn approximately $38,531
(Note: Data are for persons employed full-time, age 25 and over. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013)
Can I Earn an Online GED?
It’s possible to take preparatory classes for your online GED, but not to take the exam itself online.
Regrettably, many individuals desperate to earn a GED online have fallen for online scams from websites that claim they offer the GED online. For the moment, the official GED test remains a pencil-and-paper exam.
Officials state that they plan to computerize the exam in the near future, but for now any company claiming to offer a GED online exam is either blatantly fraudulent or, at best, misleading.
Legitimate companies haven’t helped the situation; to bring customers in, they use the words “online GED” or “get your GED online,” but actually what they offer is online GED preparatory classes. Sometimes these companies also offer practice tests for students online, but these practice exams shouldn’t be mistaken for actual GED exams.
Improvements in Online GED Preparation
The GED Testing Service, the organization that administers the official GED tests, announced on its website that it will “unveil a new assessment in all jurisdictions… that ensures the GED is no longer an endpoint for adults, but a springboard for more education, training, and better-paying jobs.”
This means that there’s a good chance that the GED will get harder because research in the past few years has shown that GED holders don’t truly possess the same skills as high school graduates. The reason is obvious: high school graduates spend thousands of hours in school, doing homework, and completing projects. GED holders, however, only take a preparatory course for a few months, then take the exam after less than 100 hours of work.
New GED Exam Information
To address the discrepancies between holders of high school diplomas and holders of GEDs, the GED Testing Service has completely redesigned the exam.
The testing organization’s president, Molly Broad, originally conceived the new exam in 2008 when she announced her decision to change the main focus of the test from high school equivalency to college and job preparedness. At about the same time, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was sweeping through the United States. These common academic standards were adopted by many states in agreement as to what types of skills and knowledge high school students should have when they graduate.
For GED candidates, what this means is that they might not be able to take the paper-and-pencil exam that’s currently offered. If the new version of the exam is implemented, then the exam will only be computer-based. The GED Testing Service has already entered into a joint venture with testing service Pearson VUE to offer the new exam at the company’s computer centers.
If You Don’t Know How to Use a Computer
Everyone starts somewhere. If you don’t know your way around a computer, you’re not the only one!
If you have any doubts about your computer skills, simply watch the easy-to-follow video below, “Testing Online: It’s Easier Than You Think.” You can quickly learn enough to research and prepare for taking the test.
How to Prepare for a GED Exam
Individuals who wish to earn a GED should investigate the various free preparatory classes available to them before enrolling in an expensive preparatory course. Community colleges, for example, often provide free preparatory classes for the GED. Unfortunately for those looking for online preparatory classes, however, these free classes tend to be held on campus. However, with a little research, you might be able to find online GED classes that are free or priced reasonably.
For people who cannot commit the time to go to a community college to take GED preparatory classes, online GED classes are an option. Though they’re not usually free, the advantage to these online preparatory courses is that they can be completed on the candidate’s own time. For example, individuals who work during the day can take the courses on their own computers at night; individuals who work at night can take the courses when they want during the day.
You can do it!
In summary, don’t fall for “GED tests online.” GED scams abound on the Internet. Instead, either take a preparatory class at a local college or enroll in an online GED preparatory class. In both cases, individuals who want to earn their GEDs would be wise to complete their preparation and exam this year—before the new test (allegedly) comes out later this year.