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Sarah Bradstreet

What Topics Does the GED Cover?

The GED is used to earn a high school equivalency diploma. That might sound overwhelming at first. You might be thinking, “Four years of high school? That’s a lot of material! I don’t have four years to spend studying!” Don’t be intimidated. The GED tests the major topics in four basic subject areas—those classes that were the “core curriculum” in high school. They are:

  • English (called “Reasoning Through Language Arts” on the GED)
  • Math(“Mathematical Reasoning”)
  • Social Studies
  • Science

Each of these topics has its own GED subject test, which can be taken separately or all at the same time.

Let’s break down each of these to see what topics are on the GED.

What Topics Does the GED Cover?

What topics does the GED cover? -Magoosh

Reasoning Through Language Arts

The Reasoning Through Language Arts subject test covers those skills you would learn in a high school English class— reading, writing, and critical thinking.

There are three major topics on the Reasoning Through Language Arts subtest:

  • Reading Comprehension: These give you a reading passage and ask you questions based on the text.
  • Language Conventions and Use: These questions will give you a short passage that contains grammatical errors and ask you to choose the correct version of a given sentence.
  • Writing: You will be asked to write one essay based on information given in two passages.

Mathematical Reasoning

The Mathematical Reasoning subject test tests your ability to use critical thinking to solve math problems.

The math areas on the GED are:

  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Data Analysis

Things you WON’T see on the GED math test:

  • Trigonometry
  • Calculus
  • Questions that require super long, complicated calculations
  • Questions that require you to have formulas memorized

You’ll be given a math formulas and symbols reference sheet that gives you all the formulas you’ll need. You don’t have to have them memorized, but you DO need to know when and how to use them correctly.

Some math questions will let you use a calculator; others won’t. There will be an onscreen calculator for you to use. If you want a handheld one, you can bring your own, but it must be a TI-30XS.

Social Studies

The Social Studies subject test covers:

  • United States History
  • Civics and Government
  • Economics
  • Geography and the World

The social studies subtest is entirely document-based. That means that every single question will give you something to reference—a text, a map, a graph, a cartoon, a photograph, etc.

This is good news for those of you who shudder at the thought of memorizing a bunch of names and dates. These documents give you a lot of the information you need to answer the questions. This means that the test is more about skills—being able to understand and interpret the information in the documents—than about memorizing facts.

Science

The Science subject test covers:

  • Life Science (biology)
  • Physical Science (chemistry and physics)
  • Earth and Space Science

Some of the questions will be stand-alone, but most will include a document such as a text passage, graph, diagram, or other illustration.

What’s Next?

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What topics does the GED cover?” you’re ready to take the next steps towards earning your GED. Here are some ideas:

Improve your GED math score with Magoosh!
About Sarah Bradstreet

Sarah is an educator and writer with a Master’s degree in education from Syracuse University who has helped students succeed on standardized tests since 2008. She loves reading, theater, and chasing around her two kids.


2 Responses to “What Topics Does the GED Cover?”

  1. Caitlin Claassens says:

    Hi,

    I’m not sure who to talk to…
    I’m 26 years old. Originally from South Africa. My parents moved to China when I was 10 and I remained there until I was 21.
    I received no further education. English is my first language and I have no problems with it.
    I’m afraid to start studying for a GED as I feel my level is much lower than the GED study material.
    I’m also afraid that since I’ve not been to school or had a normal upbringing- I spent my childhood in my bedroom playing games, reading and watching movies and tv shows-
    I might not be able to cope with it all…. as I said, I’m 26, and have accomplished nothing….I don’t say this proudly….at all…
    I’m moving to the US in 2018 and I thought that getting a GED might give me some opportunities…But I’m not sure if its the right step.
    Can you offer any advice? Even if its someone or some organization that I can talk to?

    Kind regards,

    Caitlin

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

      Hi Caitlin,

      That’s tough! I think the GED could be a great step in the right direction for you, so don’t be intimidated. When you get to the place you will live in the US, explore what adult services are available at places like community centers and community colleges. There are often GED classes you can take in addition to using test materials, and you will have the structure of a class to help you progress. You’re not the only person in the boat you’re in, so don’t be afraid to find places to get support. 🙂

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