Ready to Pass the GED® This Year? Check Out These Four Powerful Test Taking Tips

Since its inception in 1942, more than 19 million Americans have passed the GED® high school equivalency exam, which provides a pathway for adult learners to obtain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and careers. The GED test was completely revised in 2014 for the first time in over a decade – it has integrated current high school education standards and shifted from a paper-based to a fully digital exam.

As with any sweeping change, we’re in the midst of an adjustment period. Today’s test-takers are facing new challenges as they tackle the test, and the number of students actively passing it has decreased. Many more students will take the GED in 2015, and at HMH, our adult education experts are committed to enabling learners with the resources they need to prepare for the latest GED series.

 Here are four tips for GED® test-takers to keep in mind as they prepare.

1. Know Your Approach

While studying is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to passing the GED®, creating a specific strategy for how you want to approach the test can be a powerful tool for success.

As you study, try to identify the subject areas where you feel confident as well as the areas where you feel less comfortable. In places that are particularly challenging, ask yourself how you naturally prefer to approach each question. For example, on multiple choice tests, do you do best when you read the potential answers before you read each question? Or do you prefer to read each question first? Knowing in advance the most effective way for you to approach the exam can give you some added confidence.  Figure out the approach that consistently works for you, and bring that GED® strategy with you on test day.

Also, familiarize yourself with the time limits for each section (you can find them here). For more challenging sections, you can build in an extra few minutes at the end to review your answers. By taking GED® practice tests, you will also become more comfortable with the cadence you’ll need to complete each section and still have a few minutes left to review. 

2. Keep an Eye on the Clock

Before the test begins, ask your facilitator how often he or she will provide time checks throughout the test. During the exam, keep an eye on the clock so that you are able to answer every question. Ideally, leave yourself a few minutes at the end to review your answers.

3. Don’t Know? Don’t Panic

If you come across a question and you don’t know the answer (and there’s a good chance you will!), don’t panic. First, read the question again carefully – was there anything you missed the first time around? Next, take a look at the potential multiple choice answers. Are there any answers that are obviously wrong? Go ahead and eliminate them! From there, see if there are contradictory answers – both of them can’t be right, so this technique is a great way to eliminate another option (although, keep in mind, both choices could be wrong!).

If you’re still stumped, take your best guess. If you leave the answer blank, it will be marked as incorrect, but if you guess, you have a 20% chance of getting it right and receiving credit.

4. Take Care of Yourself

For the few days before the test, take care of yourself as if you are an athlete and test day is race day. Eat well, get to bed early, and do whatever you need to do to mentally prepare and focus – take walks, have someone watch the kids for a few hours, or find a quiet space to decompress.

To maximize your brainpower, research suggests eating protein before an exam, like eggs, beans, seeds or nuts. If you can’t live without carbohydrates, have a whole-wheat piece of toast with peanut butter. Stay away from processed foods on the day of the test – they will give you a quick boost in energy but will ultimately make you feel sleepy and unfocused. After all that dedicated preparation, you’ll want to be alert and relaxed on test day!

Want more GED® tips, tools, practice tests and study guides? Head over to our GED® resource center to see how we can help you pass the test this year.

Best of luck from HMH!

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Mott Nolley is HMH's Vice President of Product Development for Adult Education.

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