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History of GED tests

The first GED tests were administered in 1942 by the United States Armed Forces Institute only to military personnel and veterans. In 1945, the American Council of Education established the Veteran’s Testing Service. This service administered the GED until 1963 when the ACE recognized that civilians could also benefit from the program and therefore renamed the program as the General Educational Development Testing Service. The growth of the program has spiraled across the nation. Jones (2015), the ACE served 710,666 men and women in the United States and territories (with 498,000 earning the GED) through approximately 3,000 GED Testing Centers. Testing services are now available to military personnel in the United States and stationed overseas, persons confined to correctional or health institutions and American Civilians in the United States and foreign nationals overseas. The GED program objective is to measure the lasting outcomes associated with four years of high school education.

This outcome is measured by the administration of the GED test battery. The battery, using a multiple-choice question format, consists of writing skills, social studies, science, interpreting literature and the arts, and mathematics. Additionally, the writing skills section requires a written essay. The GED battery corresponds to the general framework of most high school curricula. The GED Examiner’s Manual indicates a total score of 225 is required for successful completion of the GED test battery. Upon attaining a GED, a school dropout earns a high school diploma equivalency credential. The GED tests were developed by experienced secondary school and adult educators and reviewed by subject area experts. Prior to the dissemination of the final tests each item was also pre-tested. Using a national sample of graduating seniors, the GED tests were standardized.

In actuality, high school seniors are setting the standard for GED examinees to receive the GED high school equivalency credential. The GED tests have been nationally formed six different times1943, 1955, 1976, 1977, 1980 and 1987. In 2015, more than 20,000 students in more than 600 high schools participated in the National GED Standardization Study. Passing scores for GED examinees are then established so that 30% of high school seniors would fail the tests. The process of forming and revising GED tests operates under the assumption that the tests comprise valid and reliable assessment of current high school graduation equivalency. The GED Profiles: Adults in Transition states, By passing the GED Tests, adults earn high school diplomas and qualify for college enrollment, training programs, jobs, and job advancement.


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