My GED test experience

teacher in front of adult education class
Photo courtesy of World Relief Spokane

In this day and age, getting a high school degree is important to start a career in almost every field.

Unfortunately, some immigrants such as myself miss the opportunity of formal education. I was 17 when my family first moved to the United States. Due to dangerous conditions in my home country, I was not able to complete the 11th grade. I had to go through the GED test experience.

When I tried to enroll in a local high school, I was told that I would not be able to do so due to my age and school records. Getting a college degree was my main goal at the time, so I had no choice but to look alternative to high school. This was when I first learned about the GED® test.

After some research, I realized that the GED® test was a great opportunity for those who missed the chance to complete high school. The test seemed simple and straightforward. All you needed to know was basic reading and comprehension skills as well as knowledge of basic mathematics. Although it was meant to be equal to high-school education, the information included seemed more at a middle school level. This was not a problem for me since I prefer learning on my own.

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I decided to teach myself the information I missed by not attending high school. 

After a few weeks of practice, I went to take the test. My GED® test experience was that I found it easy. But I did feel like I could have done significantly better if I had more time. My main difficulty was reading and processing information fast enough. I did not have enough time to answer most of the questions from the English, Science, and Social Studies parts of the GED® test. I also had some difficulty understanding word problems in the Math portion of the test.

Normally I would be able to read this information just fine, but because the test was timed, I had to read information much faster than usual. This, obviously, led to many mistakes. I believe this was mostly because I was a second language speaker and did not have practice reading.

Thinking about the test now, I regret not being able to attend high school. On one hand, the GED test experience did help me move up in my career. I was able to enroll in a community college, enter an honors program, maintain very high grades, and become the president of that honors program. And I am now enrolled in 4-year institute working for a B.Sc. in Computer Science.

On the other hand, I’ve had a lot of problems socializing with peers and professors due to lack of experience. I feel like I would have had much better social skills had I attended high school. Fortunately, I was still able to build up my social skills, but not without a great deal of trial and error.

As someone who has been through the GED test experience, I have a few recommendations.

First, do not take the GED® test if you can still attend high school. It is by no means a replacement to school. High schools teach far beyond their courses. You will not only miss a lot of important information, but you will also miss the opportunity to meet friends and experience a major part of American life.

Second, for those who have no choice but to go through the GED test experience, my recommendation is to read as much as possible. Be prepared to read and understand stories very quickly. You can practice this with books, newspapers, magazines, or online articles. Read something, time yourself, then ask yourself to recall the important points in what you just read. If you do this for a few weeks, you will have no problems passing the test.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.