What Is an "Equivalent Certificate?"

An equivalency certificate is issued to someone who hasn't graduated from high school but has passed a battery of tests to show he's got the knowledge required to get a high school diploma. Employers, colleges and other postsecondary schools can choose to accept the equivalency certificate as a substitute for the diploma. It's sometimes known as a GED, but General Education Development is actually a registered trademark of the American Council on Education, which provides equivalency tests.


Earning an Equivalency Certificate

High school equivalency certificates are awarded after a person passes achievement tests in writing, reading, mathematics, science and social studies. Candidates must also complete a writing project. Testing programs are typically administered or sponsored by state departments of education. To be eligible to take the equivalency tests, an individual usually must be a resident of the state who is not enrolled in school. There's usually a minimum age, which varies by state. Equivalency tests require a level of knowledge comparable to what high school graduates have, so preparatory classes are usually necessary. Free classes are available through many local high schools, colleges and online programs.

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