The five required GED® subtests are:
1.) Language Arts (Writing): The language arts (writing) test consists of two sections. However, scores for the two parts are never reported separately.
Part 1 is a multiple-choice section of 50 questions that measure the ability to edit sentences within one or more extended paragraphs. The questions are drawn from the following content areas: organization, 15 percent; sentence structure, 30 percent; usage, 30 percent; and mechanics, 25 percent. Part 1 contains three types of documents: informational, instructional or how-to, and workplace documents.
Part 2 is an essay section that measures the ability to compose a well-written response to a question about a subject or an issue. You are asked to produce a clear, well-organized piece of writing, which explains your ideas and supports them with details and examples. The essay topics are carefully chosen with several criteria in mind. First of all, topics are expository rather than persuasive. Your objective is to present a point of view or give an explanation, not to convince others of the virtues of your beliefs. Secondary, none of the topics are controversial or deeply emotional, because an overly emotional response may result in a less effective and controlled essay. Finally, topics may be answered on the basis of general knowledge, life experience and personal observations. You should be able to answer the questions without any specialized background.
The time allowed for this test is two hours. You should use 75 minutes to answer the 50 multiple-choice questions and the remaining 45 minutes to write an essay.
2.) Language Arts (Reading): The language arts (reading) test is 65 minutes long, has 40 items to be completed and is divided into the following content area: literary context, 75 percent, and nonfiction text, 25 percent. The literary and non-fiction selections show a range of ethnic backgrounds, ages, gender and regional backgrounds.
3.) Science: The science test assesses higher order thinking skills of application, analysis and evaluation. It is 80 minutes long and covers the following content areas in a multiple-choice format: life science, 45 percent; earth and space science, 20 percent; and physical science, 35 percent.
4.) Social Studies: The social studies test measures critical thinking skills of comprehension, application, analysis and evaluation. It is 85 minutes long, in a multiple-choice format and measures concepts and skills from the following content areas: United States and world history, 40 percent; civics and government, 25 percent; economics, 20 percent; and geography, 15 percent. The context is national as well as global.
5.) Mathematics: The mathematics test measures analytical and reasoning skills, as well as the application of mathematical theory. It is 90 minutes long and given in two parts. Part 1 is a multiple-choice test with six alternate formats and one coordinate-plane grid. You will have 45 minutes to complete the 25 questions in Part 1. You may use a calculator for Part 1 (provided by the test center) but not for Part 2.