What’s the Difference Between the GED and a High School Diploma?

If you’re considering taking the GED, a whole lineup of questions may be running through your mind about this type of certification. What’s the difference between the GED and a high school diploma? Do employers and colleges care which one you have? Are there limits to what you can do with a GED versus a high school diploma? GED Testing Services has all the answers and more!

What is the GED?

The GED is comprised of the GED test and the GED credential. The GED test includes exams on four different topics, including math, reasoning through language arts, science, and social studies. If these subjects sound familiar, it’s because high school students encounter them every day in the classroom. In fact, if you’ve attended high school through junior year, you should feel pretty confident about your ability to study for and pass the GED exam.

Once you pass all four exams on the GED test, you’ve earned your GED credential. This credential serves as a diploma showing you have a 12-grade level knowledge base—even if you didn’t graduate from a traditional high school.

Is the GED Equal to a High School Diploma?

The GED is a high school equivalency diploma, so you can use it to apply to college or for a job resume, just like you would with a high school diploma. And if you’re wondering which schools and jobs accept the GED, we’ve got good news! More than 98 percent of schools in the United States accept the GED, including community colleges, universities, and private schools. Couple your GED with a good SAT or ACT score, and you’ll have an excellent chance of getting into any school you wish.

If you’re ready to dive straight into the workforce, the GED is a great option in that area too. Employers view the GED as equal to a high school diploma, so you shouldn’t have trouble applying for jobs—as long as you have the skills and experience necessary for the position. And, earning a GED also has the potential to boost your earnings significantly. Many GED graduates go on to make $9,000 more per year than those without a high school diploma.

Which Option is Right for You?

A high school diploma is an ideal option to prepare you for a career and college studies. But this route takes four years to complete, and some people don’t have the option to attend high school if they drop out during their teenage years.

Luckily, GED graduates can prepare to earn their certificate in just a few months, and the test can be taken even by those past high school age.

Ultimately, both options are a great way to gain knowledge and life experience to open up new opportunities, including higher pay, continued education, and career advancement.


  1. Hi my name is Meena Dokmai. I am living in Hawaii and I just pass the last test for the GED today so I was wondering if they have the graduation ceremony or do they just mail me the GED transcript?

    1. Hi Meena! If you attended an adult education center you can reach out to them and see if they have a graduation ceremony. We will also have a virtual celebration for all GED graduates this spring so watch out for emails about that!

    1. Hi Erika! Yes you can take the GED. We suggest looking for an adult education center near you to help with your preparation for the GED. For more information please email help@ged.com.

  2. After passing all GED tests, do you get a certificate similar to a HS diploma or is the transcript sufficient enough to show a potential school or employer.
    What happens if you lose proof that you completed the GED. Where do you acquire a copy of it. The GED was done in the state of PA

    1. Hi Makalina! Yes you will get a transcript that is sufficient to show schools and employers. If you lose proof that you completed your GED, you can email help@ged.com and they will assist you in getting a copy of your transcript.

  3. Dear GED Testing Service,

    Hope this mail finds you well.
    I’m Hilda, I used to lived in San Francisco CA.
    I attended GED classes and I passed two of the subjects test already. But unfortunately I have to move with my family to Asia. Is it possible for me to take the other two subjects test online?

    Thank you
    Best regards.
    Hilda Ichioka

    1. Hi Ichioka! We want to help you finish your GED. Unfortunately we do not allow students to take the actual test online, but we do offer the GED in Asian countries. Please email help@ged.com and they can provide you with more information on relocating and testing internationally.

    1. Hi Jazmín! You should be able to get your GED depending on what state you’re testing in. Please email help@ged.com for more information on how to get started or click here to learn more about testing in a specific state.

  4. Hi, I completed (Graduated) from high school I earned high school Certificate of Attendance and completion it didn’t counted as diploma or Equivalent to diploma I was not meeting requirements for high school Diploma and I could able earn GED Credential more benefits than the High School Certificate a non-credential because I Was a Special education Outside a General Education requirements for Diploma for the office jobs

  5. Hola, mi nombre es Adán, vivo en the bronx new York , soy ciudadano pero viví todo el tiempo en mexico y allí terminé mis estudios de secundaria y 1 año de hig school , y tengo ganas de seguir con ello , mi pregunta es ¿ yo puedo hacer un g.e.d y que tomen en cuenta mi constancia de secundaria en México?

  6. I am 19 years old, I only went to high school till my sophomore year was complete, I missed my junior/senior of high school. Can I still get my GED? Or do I have to complete my junior year of high school in able to get my GED.

  7. Hi
    I’m nasro I did my highschool in kenya but wanted to get my ged since i came back to the states . I was wondering are the actual tests different then those of normal highschools like are they set differently or should I start memorizing everything right away .Thank you

  8. Hello my name Antonio Pineda 51 years old i coming for other country Mexico University grade and live Arizona for 20 years is possible take this test o what’s is you suggesting. Thank you

  9. Hi, i have a few questions :
    1) is it possible to do GED after GCSC ( grade 10-11 in the British System)?
    2) if so what happens if you don’t pass GCSC exams ? Can you still attempt GED? Or do you have to have certain grades or qualifications before you do GED?
    3) are there any schools that offer GED in Dubai or Singapore?

    1. Hi Amna! Depending on your age you should still be able to take the GED. We offer the GED internationally, for more info click here.

  10. Hey my name is ray and I was wondering if I got my ged before the year I was suposed to graduate.. can I go to the high school ceremony like I would have been able to if I was in school

    1. Hi Rayawna! You would need to contact the high school that you graduated from or the adult education center you attended. Thank you!

  11. Hi. My name is Ingmar.
    I wanted to check if I’m able to go to the Netherlands with my ged (still in progress of getting it). If so which school am I able to enter.

    1. Hi Ingmar! You’d need to contact the schools themselves in the Netherlands to find out if they accept the GED diploma. Thank you!

  12. Hello there ,
    I am from Sri lanaka, i would like to follow engineering bachelors in monash university Australia, will ged considered as the entry requirement ?

    1. Hi Shylajan! You’ll need to contact the university you want to attend in Australia to see if they accept the GED. Thank you!

  13. Hi my name is Marvin I was wondering if I can get a GED even tho I don’t speak English at all or I need some English and ESOL class credits to take GED

    1. Hi Marvin! We offer the GED in English and Spanish. If you speak neither language you will need to ESL classes to be able to pass the GED. Email help@ged.com with further questions. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ace! A transcript shows your educational record including your GED test scores. If you’re applying to colleges they will ask for your transcript for proof that you passed and earned the scores need to for entrance. A GED diploma just signifies that you have earned your GED degree. Thank you!

  14. Hi my name is Michelle I’m 16 years old I just finished 1year of high school Can I apply to get a ged

  15. Hello! I have a quick question. I plan on taking my GED within the next few days and I noticed that there is a BETA option for taking the GED online at home. I was wondering if this is the same as taking it in person or if it is worth less, so to say. Also, do we get a diploma after we pass our GED? Thank you!

    1. Hey Hena! Taking the GED online is not worth less than taking it in-person. It is currently in beta though so if you’re just starting your GED you most likely do not qualify for online testing yet. You also do receive a diploma after you pass. For more info on online testing please email help@ged.com.

  16. Thought you might like to hear this story. My mom was born in 1916. She quit HS to get a job because of family needs. I never knew this until the mid-60’s when I dropped out of college. My mom was very upset over this and confessed that she had never graduated HS. She was ashamed of this and never told anyone. Astonished, I said “well, get a GED!” She asked “What’s a GED?” So, I told her, thinking she’d never do it. But she did. She researched when and where etc and took the test. She later told me the administrator told her she had earned the highest score he had ever seen. I put her HS Diploma in her casket.

  17. Hi, I’m Andre and I recently moved to TX.
    I was studying abroad in Mexico and got Mexico’s high school diploma, my question is, is it better to validate that diploma or do I take the GED test instead?

    1. Hi Mario. The GED is a high school equivalency test that can take anywhere from 3 months to a year to pass depending on how much time you have!

  18. Hello. I want to take the GED, but i have graduated high school in a british curriculum school Dubai. So i have done my IGCSEs (grade 11). Its been 4 years since (and i am 20 now), and i want to do the GED and use that to apply for college/university abroad in Canada. Am i applicable to do a GED?

    *was not specific, sorry. this is the corrected comment.

  19. Hi my name is Jade. I’m 15 years old. I’d like to get my Matric online and switch from public school to homeschooling. I’m under the impression that you can only get your Matric with GED. Is there any way I can take the GED test before I’m 17 and is it only one test or do I have to take a test for every year for example grade 10, 11 and 12?

  20. Hello there,
    I have dropped out recently from the two year IBDP diploma programme where i was able to finish only a year which makes me a 12 grade graduate and my dream is to attend a beauty college somewhere in Canada. So ,am i supposed to still get a GED to enroll into a beauty school or will it just be a waste of time because i heard getting a GED is equivalent to getting a 12 grade certificate.So should i take the GED or not?

    1. Hi Nasra. That is up to you. The GED is the equivalent to a high school diploma. If you already have a diploma and the Canadian beauty college you wish to attend accepts it, you will not need to take the GED.

  21. I went to high school in California. I met all graduation requirements but didn’t pass the cahsee. I’m really bad at tests. Would I be able to pass the ged?

    1. Hi Bert! The GED is a high school equivalency test that can help you get into universities around the world. We have many students who take the GED exam in South Africa and are successful. For more information, create a free account at https://ged.com/en/.

  22. I’m 16 I have a baby otw I don’t kno If I wan get everything over with and get my ged or finish my junior and senior years of high school my mom think I should do my ged

  23. I’m in 9th grade at a public american school. I’m wondering if I should get a high school diploma, dual-credit, or I should get this GED? I also plan on doing medicine when I leave school. One more detail is that when I’m 16 I want to get emancipated. What would you recommend are my best options.

  24. I’m Daniela.
    I got my accountant degree in my country (Argentina) 6 years ago.
    I live in US now, Do I need to get an GED diploma if I want to get a job?

    1. Hi Daniela! That really depends on the job you’re applying to. They may accept a foreign high school credential so you should discuss it with them. However, if they do not we suggest getting your GED.

  25. I’am 19 years old. I was supposed to graduate from high school last school year (2018-2019) but i didnt. I kinda just dropped out. I also live in British Columbia, Canada. I was wondering if its possible for me to register to get my GED through this school?

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