First Steps in Getting Your GED

Kelly Garcia
Kelly Garcia. Kelly Garcia

My mom got her GED the same year I graduated high school. It was a special time for our family, and gave her my extra graduation tassel to commemorate the event. If you have decided to take that step, good for you! Making the decision is the hardest part. I am writing this to help you succeed. We live in Nebraska, so the details below are about that state, but first steps are similar in most states offering the GED test from GED Testing Service.

Vicki Bauer, GED administrator for the Nebraska Department of Education, informed me that Nebraska has updated to the 2014 version of the GED test. She also referred me to some people closer to my area for further information.

I then spoke with Kathy Fickenscher, a test examiner with Career Services at Mid-Plains Community College, an approved Pearson Vue testing center. All GED tests must be taken at an approved testing center like this. The very first person of the year was in that day to test. Everything is done via computer now, but don't be intimidated if you are not yet comfortable with computers. There are people at each Pearson Vue testing center to assist you. Remember, without people like you, there would be no need for testing centers or career services. Think of it as supporting the local economy!

The first thing Fickenscher said to do is create an account with Creating your account should take five minutes or less. You will then be in your “dashboard.” The dashboard is your navigational center where you can take practice tests or schedule your official testing. There are six windows on the dashboard page---study, schedule, scores, test tips, find a center, and colleges and careers.

In the study window, there is an arrow that says “start studying.” When you click on that window, you will have three more options: browse study tools, find local study tools, and prove you're GED ready. The last is where you go to take an official practice test. You can take a practice test for one subject or all four. After deciding to take a practice test, the next window allows you to choose the subject and the language of the test. Current language options are English or Spanish. A minimum passing score of 150 is required. You can graduate with honors if you score in the 170-200 range.

There are four parts to the GED: 1) language arts, which has been updated to include reading and writing, 2) math, 3) science, and 4) social studies. The math section has been changed to incorporate a higher level of both algebra and geometry than on previous versions of the test.

The practice tests will help you decide if you need to enroll in an adult education class to prepare. Fickenscher said that is what many adults should do, and it is a free service at several campuses (Broken Bow, McCook, Imperial, North Platte, and Valentine, just to name a few in my area). Check the adult education website for your own state for info about available classes. In my mom’s case, she signed up for adult education classes to allow her to practice skills prior to her test.

Once you are ready to schedule your actual test date, log into your account at You can choose where and when you wish to test. As of January, 2014, the testing fee in Nebraska ($30) is payable online when you register. (The site itself says $6 per test.) There are no refunds if you do not show up, so make sure you can be there. To cancel, 24 hours' notice is required to avoid losing your money. Be ready to answer some personal questions when you schedule your tests. You will be asked your highest level of education, reason for testing, etc.

Now that you know some of the basic information, go on over to and get started. It's the first step on your journey, and you owe it to yourself (and your family) to be the best you can be. There are people all over the state who are willing to teach and support you. You're not in this alone. As in my mom’s case, if you sign up for a free adult education class, you will have plenty of time to practice skills before the actual test date. I remember the pride on my mom’s face when I handed her my extra tassel when her grades came in!