GED® RLA: How to Study

Preparing for the GED Reasoning through Language Arts test doesn’t have to be hard, and it can even be fun! Unlike the GED Math test, the RLA doesn’t require any specific content knowledge: you don’t need to know what an allegory is, or be able to identify the past participle of to be. This is mainly a test of reading comprehension, and so the best preparation is to read, read, and read some more. Still, there are a few other things you can do to get ready for this language arts test. Here are our top tips for preparing for the GED Reasoning through Language Arts test.

  • Register at This is the official GED site. Create a free account as soon as possible, and then spend some time exploring the site. You will find the latest information about the exam, as well as resources to help you prepare. This leads to our second tip…
  • Take a practice test! For a small fee, you can take an official practice test on the GED website. These tests are half as long as the real test, and they include questions that used to be on the real test. Most students find that their scores on the practice test are very similar to their official scores. So, if you score a 145 or better on your practice test, you’re probably ready for the real thing! Taking a practice test can also show you where you need to improve (which you can do for free with our GED RLA lessons and practice quizzes).
  • Read! Daily reading, even if only for fifteen minutes, is the most important thing you can do to prepare for the Reasoning through Language Arts test. Read about something you’re already interested in, or look for a fun work of fiction. If you don’t know where to start, visit your local public library and ask for some help finding a book. Of course, we have a wide selection of free GED reading practice tests.
  • Read with purpose! While you are reading, think about the questions that show up on the GED: What is the main idea? What supporting evidence is given? Is it fact or opinion? What is the author’s tone? Who is the audience? As much as possible, try to be an active reader.
  • Don’t worry about memorizing vocabulary. The GED only includes questions about vocabulary in context, meaning that you can figure out the meanings of the words by how they are used in the sentence. Therefore, there is no point in memorizing long lists of words. If you are interested in building your vocabulary, we have some short vocabulary quizzes. You will not see questions like these on the test, however, so don’t stress out if many of the words are unfamiliar. The best way to build vocabulary is to read a broad range of texts.
  • Focus on a few key grammar issues. You don’t need to know all of the specific rules of English grammar. GED RLA grammar questions are almost all on a few topics, including punctuation, capitalization, and pronouns and antecedents. If you can spot obvious errors in these areas, you will be just fine on testing day.
  • Plan for the essay. Writing a short essay is part of the GED RLA. Many students, especially those who are not native English speakers, find this part of the test to be very stressful. However, you don’t actually have to write an essay to pass the test. The essay only counts for about six points of your final grade, so if you do well enough on the rest of the test, it won’t matter if you get zero points on the essay. If you think that writing the essay will diminish your performance on the rest of the test, skip it!

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.

What’s on the GED® RLA Test?

The GED Reasoning through Language Arts test is primarily a reading comprehension test. If you can understand a range of texts (stories, non-fiction, persuasive essays, and so on), you’ll do very well. You don’t need to know every rule of grammar, and you don’t need to learn a million vocabulary words. You just need to read well!

The best way to prepare for the GED RLA, then, is simply to read. All of our free GED reading tests are here, but you can also improve your skills just by reading anything you enjoy, so long as you do it consistently and with care.

To focus your study, we’ve put together a list of GED RLA reading skills. It’s based on the official GED RLA outline, which divides the test questions into three topic categories: reading for meaning; identifying and creating arguments; and grammar and language. As you read, keep these skills in mind.

Reading for Meaning

  • Events, plots, characters, and settings: What happens? Who is involved? Where does it happen?
  • Main ideas and details: What is the most important idea? What other ideas or details support it? Are there any ideas that weaken it?
  • Point of view and purpose: Who is the writer? Who is telling the story? What is his or her motivation?
  • Tone and figurative language: How do the particular words and ideas create a mood? Is it funny? Angry? Serious? Sad? How can you tell?
  • Organizing ideas: Why is the story told that way? Why are the ideas expressed in that order? Is there a better way to tell this story or present these ideas?

Identifying and Creating Arguments

  • Evidence, main ideas, and details: How does the writer prove his or her point? Is the argument persuasive? Is the evidence convincing?
  • Conclusions and inferences: Does the argument make any suggestions that aren’t directly stated? If the argument is true, what else would be affected?
  • Data, graphs, or pictures: How are these non-text elements used? What is their purpose? Are they effective?
  • Other applications: Could this argument be used in any other situations? Would it have to be changed? How?

Grammar and Language

GED® is a registered trademark of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.

What’s on the GED Science Test?

The GED Science test includes questions related to life science, physical science, and Earth and space science. However, you don’t need to know very much about these subjects to succeed on the test! Almost all of the information you need to answer the questions will be given in the texts, charts, and graphs that accompany the questions. In other words, the GED Science test, like the Social Studies and Reasoning through Language Arts tests, is mainly a reading comprehension test. The best way to prepare is to read about science (our collection of free GED Science exercises is here).

As you read, consider the following questions:

  • How are scientific claims made and proven?
  • How are science experiments designed? What are the characteristics of a well-designed experiment?
  • What are the steps of the scientific method?
  • How are numbers and graphics used in science?
  • How are statistics and probability used in science?

What’s on the ASVAB?

The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) usually takes about two hours to complete. It is made up of of ten subtests. Most people take the ASVAB on a computer, which speeds up the process. However, each computer-administered test will include extra “tryout” questions in two to four of the subtests. These questions do not affect your score. They are used to develop future versions of the ASVAB. Time is added to the subtests that contain tryout questions. There are ten subtests on the ASVAB: 

  • The Arithmetic Reasoning (AR) subtest contains fifteen questions and lasts 55 minutes. It is a series of arithmetic word problems. With tryout questions, the test will last 113 minutes. 
  • The Math Knowledge (MK) subtest consists of 15 questions and lasts 23 minutes. It covers high school-level math concepts. You cannot use a calculator on the ASVAB. If the MK subtest includes tryout questions,    
  • The General Science (GS) subtest consists of fifteen questions and lasts ten minutes. If you are given tryout questions for this subtest, you will have twenty minutes total. 
  • For the Word Knowledge (WK) subtest, you will be given fifteen questions and nine minutes in which to answer them. If tryout questions are included on this subtest, you will be given 18 minutes. 
  • The Paragraph Comprehension (PC) subtest is ten questions and lasts 27 minutes. If you are given the additional tryout questions, this subtest will last 75 minutes. 
  • The Electronics Information (EI) subtest includes fifteen questions and lasts ten minutes. When the fifteen tryout questions are included, this subtest lasts 21 minutes. 
  • The Auto Information (AI) section is ten questions, to be answered within seven minutes. If tryout questions are added to this subtest, you will have 18 minutes.
  • The Shop Information (SI) subtest has ten questions and lasts a mere six minutes. However, if there are tryout questions for this subtest, it will last 17 minutes. 
  • The Mechanical Comprehension (MC) subtest contains fifteen questions and lasts 22 minutes. When tryout questions are added to this subtest, it lasts 42 minutes. 
  • Finally, the Assembling Objects (AO) subtest contains 15 questions, and takes 17 minutes. If the AO subtest includes tryout questions, it will last 36 minutes. 

For all of our free ASVAB lessons and practice tests, click here

What’s on the HiSET®?

The HiSET exam is actually five tests in one: Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics.

The Reading test is 50 multiple-choice questions and lasts 65 minutes (80 minutes if you’re taking the exam in Spanish). It assesses your comprehension and analysis of fiction and nonfiction alike.

The Writing test includes 60 multiple-choice questions and an essay. It lasts 120 minutes. It tests your ability to organize ideas, identify good writing, and express yourself clearly.

The Mathematics test is 55 multiple-choice questions and lasts ninety minutes.  Almost half of the questions are about algebra: the rest relate to basic operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and statistics.

The Social Studies test consists of 60 multiple-choice questions. It lasts for seventy minutes. Most of the questions relate to history, civics and government, and the rest are about economics and geography. 

The Science test includes 60 multiple-choice questions and takes eighty minutes. About half of the questions are about life science, and the other half are related to physical science and Earth science. 

Click here for all of our free HiSet lessons and practice tests. 

Tips for the GED Math Test

    There is a ton of information about the GED Math test online, and it can be hard to sift through all of it without getting overwhelmed and discouraged. For that reason, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks that can save you time and improve your score on the most difficult of the four GED tests. So, without further introduction, here is our best advice for the GED Math test.

  1. Register at This is the official site of the GED, and it has some useful resources. There’s information about the exams and state-specific guidance (testing procedures vary in some locations). Most importantly, however, once you register you can…
  2. Take a practice test! Even if you know you’re not ready for the real thing, the best way to start your prep is to take a practice test. These are retired questions from real tests, so they are the best way to see what the test actually looks like. Also, practice scores are generally close to what you would actually get on the test, so taking a practice test is a great way to know where you stand. If you score at least a 150 on your practice test, go ahead and schedule the real thing! (Note, however, that the online version of the test is a bit harder than the in-person version, so maybe try and get a 155 on the practice test first if you are planning to take your GED Math test online.) You have 120 days to finish the practice test.
  3. Get the right calculator and learn how to use it. The only calculator you can use on the GED Math test is the TI-30XS Multiview. Prices change, but you can usually get one for around $20. Buy it as soon as possible! Then, spend some time getting to know it. The official GED calculator reference guide is here. The calculator can save you huge amounts of time and brainpower on the day of the exam…if you know how it works.
  4. Get comfortable with the formula sheet. Good news! You don’t have to memorize any formulas for the GED Math test. You will be given every formula that you need on the test. However, you should still review the sheet ahead of time: don’t just assume that you’ll be able to find what you need on your test day.
  5. Focus on algebra. If you only have time to study one content area before your test, make it algebra. There will be many algebra questions on the test, and there will be many word problems that depend on algebraic concepts, especially equations and inequalities.
  6. Break it up into small portions. Unlike the other GED tests, the Math test requires a lot of basic subject knowledge. If you haven’t flexed your math muscles in a while, you could end up overwhelmed. It is really important to break your studying up into small portions and do a little bit every day. Our GED math lessons and practice tests usually take about fifteen minutes to complete. Try to set a goal of completing one or two of them every day, and you’ll be amazed how much progress you can make in just a few weeks.
  7. Answer the easy questions, flag the hard questions. You don’t have to answer every question correctly to pass the GED Math test. In fact, you really only have to answer about half correctly. So don’t get discouraged when you run into tough questions! Just take your best guess, flag that question, and move on to the next one. Concentrate on answering all the easy questions on the test, then return to the ones you’ve flagged. You may be able to pass the test just by answering questions that seem easy to you, and, at the very least, you can build your confidence and get comfortable in the exam setting before you tackle the tough stuff.