History of the GED® test

The GED® test has played an important role in America’s education landscape for 70 years.

And while the test has an impressive history, we believe the real story is the millions of remarkable people motivated to open new doors in their lives. Each test-taker who believed that building a brighter future was possible.


The testing program’s origins are rooted in educating young members of the military returning from World War II. The GED® test soon spread beyond servicemembers, becoming a pathway for adults who didn’t finish school to earn a high school-equivalency credential and have the opportunity to go to college, trade school, or find a better job.

The GED® test is America’s only nationally recognized high school-equivalency test. Since 1942, the GED® test has been an important part of the country’s education and a vital second-chance opportunity.


More than 18 million people have passed the GED® test. It’s been called the largest high school in America, and it’s instrumental in changing lives. These 18 million people are all interesting stories—looking to improve their life with education and hard work. Many go on to attend college, find a better job, and support their family with the help of a GED® test credential.

Notable graduates include a U.S. Surgeon General, state governors, members of Congress, college presidents, entrepreneurs, and even a presidential candidate. It also includes local community leaders like teachers, nurses, firefighters, policymakers, and business leaders.


It’s only getting better…

GED Testing Service, the people who create and oversee the GED® test, continue to look out for the well being of test-takers. Every decade or so the test has been changed or rewritten, to make sure that test-takers who pass will earn a high school-level certificate that truly reflects the knowledge and determination of the test-taker. 

The new GED® test in 2014 will continue to offer adults a second chance at a high school diploma, but it doesn't stop there. The new test will offer an enhanced score report and opportunities for adults to show their readiness for careers and college.