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Beth Gonzales

What is a GED Certificate?

GED certificate

Many people are asking: just what is a GED certificate? With so many different definitions, that question can be tricky to answer. Let us help you figure it out!

History of the GED

GED stands for General Educational Development. It refers to a series of test originally developed in 1942. Back when a high school diploma was sufficient for many jobs, most test-takers took the GED test for employment reasons. Passing the GED meant you were prepared for many entry-level positions.
Since then, the GED has been updated to reflect changes in both education and the job-market. Subject tests were added (or deleted) and changes were made to test questions. The current GED test is aligned with high school standards as well as career/college-readiness expectations.

Common GED Terms

When people talk about the GED, you may hear different terms used to describe the same thing. It can all get very confusing. Here is the break down:

    GED Certificate / Diploma

    You will often find the terms used interchangeably because a GED certificate and diploma are the same thing. Once you pass the GED subject tests, you earn a GED Certificate, or diploma. An official GED certificate can only be ordered online through GED testing services.


    GED Certificates are issued by the state in which you took the test. Your GED certificate features a state seal, date of completion, your name and a signature from your state’s Superintendent of Education.


    GED Credential

    Once you have taken and successfully passed all four GED subject tests, you earn a GED credential. Think of the credential as more of an achieved “status” and less of an actual object. You tell future colleges or employers you have a GED credential, but you can’t send it to them in the mail.


    GED Transcripts

    Transcripts are official records containing your GED testing history. Order transcripts online through your MyGED account. Transcripts may be sent directly to college admission offices, or even employers who want to look at your academic achievements.


    GED Test Scores

    You are given a GED test score after each subject test you take. Test scores are kept online in your MyGED account and can be accessed for as long as your account is active. You can print copies of your test scores at any time. These are unofficial copies of your GED testing history.


    GED Equivalency

    The GED is a high school equivalency exam. When you hear “GED equivalency,” it refers to someone or something that is at the same level as a high school graduating senior.


    Like the GED credential, people use this term to describe the successful completion of GED tests, not an actual certificate. You earn your GED equivalency, but you can’t hang it on your wall.

Still have more questions about the GED? We have answers! Visit our many Magoosh GED posts for more information on the GED, fun prep ideas, study guides and more!

Improve your GED math score with Magoosh!
About Beth Gonzales

Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.

4 Responses to “What is a GED Certificate?”

  1. I’ve graduated all ready by finishing my GED classes. Wxce6i CAN’T pass the math. Is there any way to just buy it. N not finish the math?

    • David Recine David Recine says:

      That depends on what you’re trying to do with your GED, and what state or school regulations you’re subject too. If you’re trying to get the equivalent of a high school diploma, you’ll want to contact your state or province’s department of education to see if there’s another way. If you’re looking to get accepted into a community college or university, contacting them about alternatives is the way to go. In either case, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through this! It certainly sounds frustrating.

      (Also, if you do need to get a passing score in math, consider seeing if your local library, community college, or other nonprofit offers free GED classes or tutoring– often, such services are available, and you may want to look into those if you haven’t done so already.)

  2. Tun Thiri Kyaw says:

    Hello, I took the GED Exam in Bangkok and got the certificate in 2015. I lost it when i moved back to my country(Myanmar) but it says i can reclaim it.I am curious whether the certificate has an expired date or something like that.My uncle in US wants me to study in US so is it still possible for me to apply a university or a college with this certificate?Any lead will be helpful.Thank You

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