Can you give us information about the GED?

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By Mary Beth Hall

Q: My daughter wants to drop out of high school and get her GED. Can you give us information about this test? We don’t know anything about the GED.

A: The General Education Development (GED) test measures knowledge in five areas: language arts with writing, social studies, science, reading and mathematics. An important part of the GED test is an essay which documents your ability to write and communicate effectively.

The language arts writing Part I has 50 questions and is a 75-minute test. These questions require you to revise and edit workplace, how to and informational documents. The scores are divided as organization, sentence structure, usage and mechanics. Part II is an essay to assess your ability to write an essay about a familiar subject.

The social studies is 50 questions and is 70 minutes long with questions from history, geography, civics and government, and economics. To answer these questions, you must be able to apply, analyze or evaluate the information provided.

Science has 50 physical science, life science, and earth and space science questions and is 80 minutes long. The questions require you to understand, interpret, or apply information that is learned through life experience.

The reading section contains 40 questions that measure your ability to comprehend and interpret workplace and academic reading selections and to apply those interpretations to new contexts. You must understand, apply, analyze and synthesize information. This test is 65 minutes in length.

Math consists of number operations, measurement and geometry, data analysis, statistics, probability, algebra, functions and patterns. This is a 90-minute test.

Many preparation tools are available to help people study for the GED test. Additional help is also available for those who have documented disabilities.

Although your daughter wants to take this route, are you in agreement that this is the best course of action for her? What are the barriers in high school keeping her from her commitment to a high school diploma? You can, and should, work closely with the school to break down these barriers.

Dropping out of high school is not an easy process. Some districts make it a lengthy and inconvenient process that takes weeks to complete. In some ways it is harder to drop out of school than to stay in school and go the distance. Staying in school proves many valuable character traits, such as perseverance, determination, mastery, and self-control. These qualities speak loudly to colleges and businesses. If a student will not stay focused on a high school education, how can an employer know that student will stay focused on her job?

I strongly recommend you do all that is possible to keep your daughter in school. A high school diploma opens many doors to opportunities she will need in life. Do not support a decision of becoming a quitter. Quitting now will lead to quitting each time life becomes hard. This should be an opportunity to build character, not failure.

(Mary Beth Hall is a guidance counselor at Grant County High School. To get a question answered, e-mail her at marybeth.hall@grant.kyschools.us.)