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GED® Test For Dummies®

To view this book's Cheat Sheet, simply go to www.dummies.com and search for “GED Test For Dummies Cheat Sheet” in the Search box.

Introduction

Perhaps you’ve applied for a job and have been refused an application because you don’t have a high-school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) diploma. Or maybe you were up for a promotion at work, but when your boss found out that you didn’t finish high school, he said you weren’t eligible for the new job. Maybe you’ve always wanted to go to college but couldn’t even apply because the college of your choice requires a high-school diploma or equivalent (the GED diploma) for admission. Or perhaps your kids are just about to graduate from high school, and you’re motivated to finish, too. Perhaps you just want to set a good example for them.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to earn a high-school diploma — whether we’ve mentioned them here or not — this book is for you. It helps you to prepare for the new computerized GED test — which, if you pass, offers you the equivalent of a high-school diploma without attending all the classes.

About This Book

If you want a high-school diploma, you can always go back and finish high school the old-fashioned way. Of course, it may take you a few years, and you may have to quit your job to do it. Plus, you’d have to sit in a class with teenagers for six or so hours a day (and probably be treated like one, too). You could also try night school, but at one or two courses a year, that could take forever.

For most people, that situation doesn’t sound too appealing. GED Test For Dummies, 4th Edition, presents a different solution: Earn a high-school diploma and do so in the shortest time possible, without ever having to share a classroom with other people. If you don’t mind preparing yourself for a series of challenging test sections that determine whether you’ve mastered key skills, you can get a GED diploma that’s the equivalent of a high-school education — and you can do so in much less than four years.

If taking the GED test to earn your diploma sounds like a great idea to you, this book is a necessary study tool. It’s a fun-filled and friendly instruction manual for succeeding on the new, all-computerized GED test. Use this book as your first stop. It isn’t a subject-matter preparation book — that is, it doesn’t take you through the basics of math and then progress into algebra, geometry, and so on. It does, however, prepare you for the GED test by giving you detailed information about each section, two full-length practice tests for each section, and plenty of easy-to-understand answers and explanations for the test questions. After taking the practice tests and going through the answers and explanations, you can determine which subject areas you need to work on.

Just as important, we walk you through how the GED test has changed. Although people needing special accommodations may still have access to the old paper-and-pencil test format, for most, it’s now offered only on a computer. Having basic computer knowledge is much more important. Some of the question formats have changed as well, so knowing how to use the computer mouse and keyboard to solve them is also important.

Foolish Assumptions

When we wrote this book, we made a few assumptions about you, dear reader. Here’s who we think you are:

  • You’re serious about earning a high-school diploma or GED endorsement for existing qualifications as quickly as you can.
  • You’ve made earning a high-school diploma and an endorsement a priority in your life because you want to advance in the workplace or move on to college.
  • You’re willing to give up some activities so you have the time to prepare, always keeping in mind your other responsibilities, too.
  • You meet your state’s requirements regarding age, residency, and the length of time since leaving school that make you eligible to take the GED test. (Double-check with your local GED test administrator to find out your state’s requirements.)
  • You have sufficient English language skills to handle the test.
  • You want a fun and friendly guide that helps you achieve your goal.

If any of these descriptions sounds like you, welcome aboard. We’ve prepared an enjoyable tour of the GED test.

Icons Used in This Book

Icons — little pictures you see in the margins of this book — highlight bits of text that you want to pay special attention to. Here’s what each one means:

tip Whenever we want to tell you a special trick or technique that can help you succeed on the GED test, we mark it with this icon. Keep an eye out for this guy.

remember This icon points out information you want to burn into your brain. Think of the text with this icon as the sort of stuff you’d tear out and put on a bulletin board or your refrigerator.

warning Take this icon seriously! Although the world won’t end if you don’t heed the advice next to this icon, the warnings are important to your success in preparing to take the GED test.

example We use this icon to flag example questions that are much like what you can expect on the actual GED test. So if you just want to get familiar with the types of questions on the test, this icon is your guide.

Where to Go from Here

Some people like to read books from beginning to end. Others prefer to read only the specific information they need to know now.

Chapter 1 starts off with an overview of the GED test and how to register for the exam. For those less comfortable with computers, Chapter 2 provides a lot more detail about the computerized GED test and what computer basics you need to know. If you want an overview of the different types of questions and how you can prepare for those subjects, check out Chapter 3. Chapter 4 gives you plenty of hands-on material to help you leading up to and the morning of test day, including what to do right before the test starts.

The chapters in Parts II, III, IV, and V go into detail about each of the test sections, starting with Reasoning through Language Arts, then Social Studies, Science, and finally Mathematical Reasoning. In each of those parts, you can find an introduction to the specific test section, along with question types and solving strategies, and some preliminary practice questions. When you’re ready to dive into full-length practice tests that mimic the real GED test, check out Parts VI and VII and then check your answers with the detailed answer explanations we provide for each test section (but be sure to wait until after you take the practice test to look at the answers!).

You can also access a handy Cheat Sheet at www.dummies.com/cheatsheet/gedtest with helpful tips you can refer to on a regular basis.

For even more test practice, you can get a 20 percent discount on your purchase of GED Ready™ vouchers — the official practice test for the GED® test. To get your access to GED Ready™, go to www.gedmarketplace.com/wiley and follow the instructions provided.

Appendix

Practicing Basic Computer Skills for the GED Test

As of 2014, you no longer take the GED test using pencils and paper (unless you require a special accommodation), nor do you have to fill in the bubble answer sheets to mark your answers. Now you perform all the test activities on a computer. You use the mouse to select the correct answer, you can use the keyboard to type up your Extended Response and Short Answer essays, and you even use the calculator and built-in formula sheet on-screen for the math and some science problems. Best of all, you get your results and a detailed breakdown of how you did within hours of completing the test.

Don’t worry: Even if you’re not familiar with using a computer, the test doesn’t require you to be either an expert typist or an expert computer user. The GED Testing Service assures that even amateur users of computers won’t be at any disadvantage in taking the test. However, it’s to your advantage to practice your computer skills before test day so your unfamiliarity with the keyboard or mouse doesn’t slow you down or frazzle you.

In this appendix, we walk you through the basic computer skills you need to know to take the computerized GED test. That includes using the mouse to click on the appropriate answer choice, to drag and drop items, or to manipulate text; getting familiar with the layout of the keyboard and some special keys you may need for typing in the basic word processor included on the test; and figuring out how to use the calculator, formulas menu, and symbols menu on-screen in the Mathematical Reasoning and Science test sections.

If you’re unsure about how to do any of these skills, our advice is to practice, practice, practice. Working with any word processor on any computer will allow you to practice these skills. If you don’t have a computer, check your local library, community college, or community center. These places often have computers available for public use, free of charge. They may even offer basic instructions. And if you find you need more computer keyboard practice, install one of the free or inexpensive typing tutors on your computer.

The computer isn’t a magic box. You still have to prepare and prepare seriously to pass the test. The computer is an instrument; the real work goes on inside your head.

Using a Mouse

The mouse skills you need to know when taking the GED test on a computer are pretty basic, and, no, they don’t include figuring out how to put a tiny piece of cheese in a mousetrap without getting snapped yourself! We cover the basics of using a computer mouse in the following sections.

Making selections

The most basic skill for using a computer mouse is just knowing how to select the correct answer. On the GED test, you do so in one of two ways: point and click or drag and drop.

Point and click

In Figure A-1, you have a traditional multiple-choice question with four possible answers. To select an answer in this situation, you simply need to click on the correct choice. That means you need to move the mouse cursor (the pointer) over the spot for the correct answer and then click the left mouse button. If you change your mind, simply click on another answer choice to override your first selection. You can click on the different answer choices as often as you want; just make sure the one you want is selected before you move on to the next question.

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-1: Standard split-screen multiple-choice item.

Math and science hot-spot questions also require you to use your mouse to select an answer. In these questions, the computer screen has a series of virtual “hot spots” or areas representing the correct answer. When you click on one of these hot spots with your mouse, it registers your answer. The remainder of the screen is wrong, so be sure of your answer when you click and where. In the example hot-spot question in Figure A-2, you simply click above the number on the plot line for the point to appear.

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-2: Hot-spot item with virtual live spots on the diagram.

Drag and drop

When you encounter a question that tells you to “drag and drop,” you simply pick up an object with your mouse (by clicking on the object and holding the left mouse button down), drag it to where you want it, and then drop it (release the mouse button) in that new location. If you’ve ever played Solitaire on a computer, you already know how to drag and drop. That’s what you do every time you move a card from one pile to another. See Figure A-3 for the drag-and-drop feature the GED test employs.

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© John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

FIGURE A-3: Drag and drop objects by clicking and holding the left mouse button and then letting go to release it in the desired location.

Moving around the page

The sample screen in Figure A-4 includes several tabs at the top of the text side of the screen. These tabs indicate that the text you’re expected to read covers more than one screen page. Recognizing these tabs and what they represent is important because you need to read the additional material before you answer the question.

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-4: The tabs at the top left of the screen tell you that there’s more text to read.

The second thing to note in Figure A-4 is a scroll bar on the right edge. It’s the bar that runs up and down the right-hand side, with an arrow on either end and a darker section somewhere along its length. That bar tells you that you need to scroll up or down for more text (where there isn’t enough content to create a new page or tab). To use your mouse to move the scroll bar up and down and make the screen move so you can see the additional text, simply click on the top or bottom of the bar. Alternatively, you can drag the light portion of the bar up or down for the same effect or use the scroll wheel on your mouse. When you’re finished with the item, click on the Previous or Next buttons on the bottom right of the screen to go to a new or previous question.

Editing your text

Another important skill to be comfortable with using on the computer is the cut-and-paste or copy-and-paste functions. Cutting or copying and pasting means you can move some text to another position on your page by highlighting it with your mouse. Cutting means deleting it from the original position, while copying means exactly that: You leave the text in its original location as well as insert a copy into a new location. That can come in handy when you’re writing an Extended Response on the GED test.

To cut or copy and paste, move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want, click on it with the left mouse button, and then continue holding down the button as you drag the mouse across the text to highlight the entire portion you want to copy or cut. Then click on the highlighted text with the right mouse button and select cut, which means delete, or copy. Holding the right mouse button down, you can move the text in its entirety to a new position. When the text is where you want it, simply release the mouse button. For you expert word processors, you can also use the customary keyboard shortcuts. You highlight the text you want, and then use the keyboard to activate the function: press Ctrl + C for copy, Ctrl + X to cut, or move the cursor to a new location and press Ctrl + V to paste.

You also need to be familiar with the concept of redo and undo while you’re writing and editing text. If you’ve used a word processor before, you know that those two little curved arrows at the top of the screen allow you to reverse an action. Those arrows are the Redo and Undo buttons. You have the option to use these buttons on the Extended Response sections and on the Short Answer items of the test.

Using the calculator

When you need a calculator to answer questions on the Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies tests, a digital image of a calculator appears on screen, or you can bring a handheld TI-30XS Multiview Scientific Calculator. You interact with the onscreen calculator the same way you would with one in your hand. The only difference is that you push the buttons with the mouse by moving the cursor over the appropriate buttons and then clicking. If you’re unsure how to use that calculator, the test offers a cheat sheet with instructions. However, to save yourself precious time while taking the exam, try to get some practice beforehand; the test uses a Texas Instrument 30XS calculator (see Figure A-5). You can try out the calculator or at least see a video on how it works at www.gedtestingservice.com/ged_calc_en_web. If you can afford it, you can buy the real thing for less than $30.

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-5: The GED test provides an on-screen calculator for most work in the Math test.

Finding math formulas and symbols

In the Mathematical Reasoning and Science tests, you use formulas, and some questions require special symbols or signs. Don’t worry — you don’t need to memorize pages of formulas; the computerized GED test provides all the formulas you need in a handy, easy-to-access drop-down window (see Figure A-6).

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-6: Clicking on the Formulas icon makes them appear.

You can also find the special symbols that aren’t shown on your keyboard in a drop-down window by clicking on the Symbol button at the top of the screen, as you can see in Figure A-7, and then clicking on the Insert button. Microsoft Word has a similar drop-down window for special characters that you can use to practice. On the ribbon at the top of the Word screen, click on Insert and then click on the omega (Ω) symbol to open a window with all sorts of letters and symbols. You can insert these symbols into the text just by clicking on them. The symbols drop-down window is similar on the GED test.

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© 2014 GED Testing Service LLC

FIGURE A-7: Click on Insert to make the symbols appear.

Practicing Your Typing on a Keyboard

If you’re more at home with a tablet or a touch screen or you still remember (or use) your old Selectric typewriter fondly, you’ll want to sit down at a computer and practice typing on a keyboard before you take the GED test. You don’t need to become a typing master; as long as you can hunt and peck with reasonable speed, you’ll be fine. The only time when you need to do more than simply click with the mouse is on the Extended Response and Short Answer items, where you have to write either a short essay or a few paragraphs response.

Not being able to type may slow you down, so you should at least have a familiarity of where individual letters, punctuation, and numbers are located on the keyboard. For an example of a standard computer keyboard, check out Figure A-8. (Note: Standard North American keyboards aren’t standard everywhere. If you learned to use a keyboard in a different language, practice with this form of keyboard before doing the test. Doing so will help you avoid typos and wasting time searching for symbols and punctuation that may not be in the accustomed location.) Two keys you also need to know are the Shift key and the Enter key. The Enter key, identified with the word Enter or a hooked arrow, starts a new paragraph or line of text. The Shift key is identified with the word Shift or sometimes just an up arrow. You hold it down when you want to insert a capital letter, and you use it to access the symbols found with numbers on the keyboard. So, for example, pressing Shift + 8 produces the asterisk. Pressing Shift + 1 gives you the exclamation mark. The Shift key also accesses various punctuation marks other than commas and periods.

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© John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

FIGURE A-8: Standard North American keyboard, like what you’ll see on the computerized GED test.

tip The GED Testing Service (GED.com) offers an online half-length practice test for a fee (currently $6.00). It allows you to practice doing an online test under conditions similar to what you’ll experience when taking the real test. It’s worthwhile just to get familiar with the computer format alone. There’s also a free quarter-length test, which isn’t scored.

Reading and writing on a computer screen is very different from reading and writing on paper. Studies have shown that people tend not to read as deeply when reading from a screen and aren’t able to organize their thoughts as easily when writing on-screen. However, you’ll have an erasable tablet to jot down rough notes about key points in the on-screen text before starting your essay and to organize your thoughts before starting to write the actual essay. Practice reading and writing on-screen before you take the GED test, especially if you’re not accustomed to working that way. It, too, is a skill that improves with practice.

Part 1

Getting Started with the GED Test

IN THIS PART …

Discover how the GED test and its various sections are organized and what to expect on the test.

Get familiar with each test section’s specific focus and manner of dealing with the content.

Explore the format of the computerized GED test, including how the questions are presented and how you’re expected to answer them.

Prepare for the actual test day, and find out what you should or shouldn’t do on the day(s) before, the day of, and during the exam.

Chapter 1

Taking a Quick Glance at the GED Test

IN THIS CHAPTER

check Reviewing the different GED test sections and their questions

check Registering for the exam

check Completing the GED test when English is your second language

check Understanding what your scores mean and how they’re determined

The GED test offers high-school dropouts, people who leave school early, and people who were educated outside the United States an opportunity to earn the equivalent of an American high-school diploma without the need for full-time attendance in either day or night school. The GED test is a recognized standard that makes securing a job or college placement easier.

The newly revised 2016 test is in line with current Grade 12 standards in the United States and meets the College and Career Readiness Standards for Adult Education. The GED test also covers the Common Core Standards, used by 46 states. These standards are based on the actual expectations stated by employers and postsecondary institutions.

The GED test measures whether you understand what high-school seniors across the country have studied before they graduate. Employers need better-educated employees. In addition, some colleges may be uncertain of the quality of foreign credentials. The GED diploma provides those assurances. When you pass the GED test, you earn a high-school equivalency diploma. That can open many doors for you — perhaps doors that you don’t even know exist at this point.

You may wonder why you should even bother taking the GED test and getting your GED diploma. People with high-school diplomas earn more and spend less time unemployed than people without. Some 59 percent of people with a high-school diploma or GED were employed full-time or part-time, compared to only 49 percent without a high-school diploma. Incomes were about 30 percent higher for high-school (or GED) graduates than people without high-school diplomas.

Ready to get started? This chapter gives you the basics of the GED test: how the test is now administered, what the test sections look like, how to schedule the test, including whether you’re eligible, and how the scores are calculated (so you know what you need to pass).

What to Expect: The New Testing Format

A computer administers the GED test. That means that all the questions appear on a computer screen, and you enter all your answers into a computer. You read, calculate, evaluate, analyze, and write everything on the computer. Even for work like rough math calculations or draft essay writing, you don’t use paper. Instead, the test centers provide you with an erasable tablet. If you know how to use a computer and are comfortable with a keyboard and a mouse, you’re ahead of the game. If not, practice your keyboarding. Also, practice reading from a computer screen because reading from a screen is very different from reading printed materials. At the very least, you need to get more comfortable with computers, even if that means taking a short course at a local learning emporium. In the case of the GED test, the more familiar you are with computers, the more comfortable you’ll feel taking the computerized test.

tip Under certain circumstances, as a special accommodation, the sections are available in booklet format. Check with the GED Testing Service to see what exceptions are acceptable.

The computer-based GED test allows for speedy detailed feedback on your performance. When you pass (yes, we said when and not if, because we believe in you), the GED Testing Service provides both a diploma and a detailed transcript of your scores, similar to what high-school graduates receive. They’re now available online at www.gedtestingservice.com within a day of completing the test. You can then send your transcript and diploma to an employer or college. Doing so allows employers and colleges access to a detailed outline of your scores, achievement, and demonstrated skills and abilities. This outline is also a useful tool for you to review your progress. It highlights those areas where you did well and areas where you need further work. If you want to (or have to) retake the test, these results will provide a detailed guide to what you should work on to improve your scores. Requests for additional copies of transcripts are handled online and also are available within a day.

Reviewing the Test Sections

The GED test includes the following four sections (also referred to as tests), each of which you can take separately:

  • Reasoning through Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Mathematical Reasoning

remember You can take each of the four test sections separately, at different times, and in any order you want. This is one of the benefits of doing the test by computer. Because everyone is working individually on the various test sections rather than as a group exam, the computer-based test eliminates the need for the whole group of test-takers to work in tandem. For example, you may be working on the Mathematical Reasoning test, while your neighbor is working on the Social Studies test. Just don’t look around at all your neighbors to verify this because proctors may think you’re doing more than satisfying your curiosity.

The following sections offer a closer look into what the test sections cover and what you can expect.

Because the computerized GED test is new and still evolving as we write this book, be sure to check out the latest and greatest about the GED test at www.gedtestingservice.com.

Reasoning through Language Arts test

The Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) test is one long test that covers all the literacy components of the GED test. You have 150 minutes overall. However, the test is divided into three sections: first, you have 35 minutes on all content in question-and-answer format, then 45 minutes for the Extended Response (essay), followed by a 10-minute break, and then another 60 minutes for more general test items. Remember that the time for the Extended Response can’t be used to work on the other questions in the test, nor can you use leftover time from the other sections on the Extended Response.

Here’s what you can expect on the RLA test:

  • The literacy component asks you to correct text, respond to writings, and generally demonstrate a critical understanding of various passages. This includes demonstrating a command of proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • The Extended Response item, also known as “the essay,” examines your skills in organizing your thoughts and writing clearly. Your response will be based on one or two source text selections, drawing key elements from that material to prepare your essay.

    The essay is evaluated both on your interpretation of the source texts and the quality of your writing. You type on the computer, using a tool that resembles a word processor. It has neither a spell-checker nor a grammar-checker. How well you use spelling and grammar as you write is also part of your evaluation. You’ll have an erasable tablet on which to prepare a draft before writing the final document.

  • The scores from both components will be combined into one single score for the RLA test.

The question-answer part of this test consists mainly of various types of multiple-choice questions (also called items) and the occasional fill-in-the-blank question. Most items will be in the traditional multiple-choice format with four answer choices, but you’ll also see drag-and-drop and drop-down menu items. For details on the different question types, see Chapters 2 and 3.

These items are based on source texts, which are materials presented to you for your response. Some of this source material is nonfiction, from science and social studies content as well as from the workplace. Only 25 percent is based on literature. Here’s a breakdown of the materials:

  • Workplace materials: These include work-related letters, memos, and instructions that you may see on the job.
  • U.S. founding documents and documents that present part of the Great American Conversation: These may include extracts from the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and other historical documents. They also may include opinion pieces of relevant issues in American history and civics.
  • Informational works: These include documents that present information (often dry and boring information), such as the instructional manual that tells you how to set the clock on your DVD player. They also include materials that you may find in history, social studies, or science books.
  • Literature: Extracts from novels, plays, and similar materials.

You find a variety of problems in the RLA test, including the following:

  • Correction: In these items, you’re asked to correct sentences presented to you.
  • Revision: In these items, you’re presented with a sentence that has a word or phrase underlined. If the sentence needs a correction, one of the answer choices will be better than the words or phrase underlined. If no correction is needed, either one of the answer choices will be the same as the underlined portion or one of the choices will be something like “no correction needed.”
  • Construction shift: In these types of problems, you have to correct a sentence by altering the sentence structure. The original sentence may not be completely wrong, but it can be improved with a little editing. In these cases, the question presents you with optional rewording or allows you to change the sentence order in a paragraph.
  • Text analysis: These problems require you to read a passage and respond in some manner. It may be an analysis of the content, a critique of the style, review for biases or other influences, or responses to something in the content.

tip See Chapters 3, 5, 6 and 7 for the lowdown on the RLA test and Chapters 17 and 25 for two practice Reasoning through Language Arts tests, with answers and explanations in Chapters 18 and 26. Check out Chapter 2 for the format of the items as they appear on the computer.

Social Studies test

The Social Studies test is scheduled for 70 minutes for the 50 questions. Here’s what you’ll see on this test:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions

    The source text and data for these question types varies. About half of the questions are based on one source item, such as a graph or text, with one question. Other items have a single source item, such as a graph or text, as the basis for several questions. In either case, you’ll need to analyze and evaluate the content presented to you as part of the question. The test items evaluate your ability to answer questions, using reasoning and analysis skills. The information for the source materials comes from primary and secondary sources, both text and visual. That means you need to be able to “read” charts, tables, maps, and graphs as well as standard text materials.

The content of the Social Studies test is drawn from these four basic areas:

  • Civics and government: The largest part (about 50 percent of the test) focuses on civics and government. The civics and government items examine the development of democracy, from ancient times to modern days. Other topics include how civilizations change over time and respond to crises.
  • American history: American history makes up 20 percent of the test. It covers all topics from the pilgrims and early settlement to the Revolution, Civil War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam War, and current history — all of which involve the United States in one way or another.
  • Economics: Economics make up about 15 percent of the test. The economics portion examines basic theories, such as supply and demand, the role of government policies in the economy, and macro- and microeconomic theory.
  • Geography and the world: This area also makes up 15 percent of the test. The areas with which you need to become familiar are very topical: sustainability and environmental issues, population issues, and rural and urban settlement. Other topics include cultural diversity and migration and those issues that are of universal and not national concern.

Science test

The Science test is scheduled for 90 minutes. Our advice for the Science test is very similar to the Reasoning through Language Arts test. Most importantly, read as much as you can, especially science material. Whenever you don’t understand a word or concept, look it up in a dictionary or online. The items in the Science test assume a high-school level of science vocabulary.

You don’t have to be a nuclear physicist to answer the questions, but you should be familiar with the vocabulary normally understood by someone completing high school. If you work at improving your scientific vocabulary, you should have little trouble with the Science test. (Note: That same advice applies to all the GED test’s sections. Improve your vocabulary in each subject, and you’ll perform better.)

The Science test concentrates on two main themes:

  • Human health and living systems
  • Energy and related systems

In addition, the content of the problems focus on one of the following areas:

  • Physical science: About 40 percent of the test focuses on physics and chemistry, including topics such as conservation, transformation, and flow of energy; work, motion, and forces; and chemical properties and reactions related to living systems.
  • Life science: Another 40 percent of the Science test deals with life science, including biology and, more specifically, human body and health, relationship between life functions and energy intake, ecosystems, structure and function of life, and molecular basis for heredity and evolution.
  • Earth and space science: This area makes up the remaining 20 percent of this test and includes astronomy — interaction between Earth’s systems and living things, Earth and its system components and interactions, and structure and organization of the cosmos.

Go ahead and type in one of the three areas of content into your favorite search engine to find material to read. You’ll find links to articles and material from all different levels. Filter your choices by the level you want and need — for example, use keywords such as “scientific theories,” “scientific discoveries,” “scientific method,” “human health,” “living systems,” “energy,” “the universe,” “organisms,” and “geochemical systems” — and don’t get discouraged if you can’t understand technical material that one scientist wrote that only about three other scientists in the world can understand.

Items in the Science test are in multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, hot-spot, and drop-down format. (See the sections on Reasoning through Language Arts and Mathematical Reasoning for descriptions of these types of items.) In addition, the Science test includes two Short Answer items that are basically short essays to be completed in about ten minutes based on a stimulus and a response to a prompt.

Mathematical Reasoning test

The Mathematical Reasoning (Math) test checks your mathematics that you’d normally know by the end of high school. Because this new test is designed to prepare you for both postsecondary education and employment, it has an emphasis on both workplace-related mathematics and academic mathematics. About 45 percent of the test is about quantitative problem solving, and the rest is about algebra.

The Math test consists of different question formats to be completed in 115 minutes. Because the GED test is now administered on the computer, the questions (or items) take advantage of the power of the computer. Check out Chapters 2 and 3 for more information and a sneak peek of what the items look like.

Here are the types of items that you’ll encounter in the Math test:

  • Multiple-choice: Most of the items in the Math test are multiple-choice because this type of question is still one of the most used formats for standardized tests.
  • Drop-down: This type of question is a form of multiple-choice in that you get a series of possible answers, one of which is correct. The only difference is that you see all the options at once within the text where it’s to be used. For an example, see Chapters 2 and 3.
  • Fill-in-the-blank and hot-spot: In these types of items, you have to provide an answer. The fill-in-the-blank items are straightforward: You’re asked for a very specific answer, either a number or one or two words, and you type the answer into the space provided. Hot-spot items use an embedded sensor within an image on the computer screen. You use the mouse to move data to that spot or plot data on a graphic. The secret of doing well on these questions is still to read them carefully and answer what is asked from the information given. These types of problems don’t have any tricks, except the ones you may play on yourself by reading information into them that isn’t there.

Some items may be stand-alone with only one question for each problem, or stimulus. Others may have multiple items based on a single stimulus. Each stimulus, no matter how many items are based on it, may be text, graphs, tables, or other representation of numbers, geometrical, or algebraic materials. Practice reading mathematical materials and become familiar with the vocabulary of mathematics.