GED vs High School Diploma: Differences and Similarities

This article on GED vs high school diploma: their differences and similarities, would answer all your inquiries on the comparison between a GED and a high school diploma. Many who desire to get a credential face the dilemma of choosing between a GED and high school diploma. Whether they are equivalent, we will get to know in this post of GED vs high school diploma: differences and similarities.

What is High School Diploma?

Once an individual fulfills every prerequisite of a high school program, they are awarded with this traditional diploma. However, these prerequisites might differ according to your environment but everyone has courses that they need to earn credits in. In order to get the diploma, students have to go to school for four years and pass their courses. Though some students tend to finish their high school diploma quicker than others, the general number of years is four years.

What is a GED?

Even without a high school diploma, you can have your credentials through GED. This can be achieved by passing four subject tests that make up the General Educational Development Test. These subjects are commonly taught in high school and consist of science, arts, math, and social studies. Therefore, you earn your credentials when you successfully excel in these four courses.

History of GED

In the 1940s, GED was founded by the American Council on Education. The objective of this program was indeed to aid veterans who entered the military without completing high school. As a result of the successful passing of the program, they had access to jobs that needed a high school diploma. Since then and for 80 years counting, many people have worked towards and earned their GEDs.

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Is GED Equivalent to a High School Diploma?

In short, it is very trite that many colleges and employers actually consider a high school diploma and GED as the same. Gaining acceptance into a prestigious school will be made possible if you couple your GED with a nice ACT or SAT score. Furthermore, you can use a GED College-Ready score to easily bypass other necessary standardized tests. Note however that this is only awarded to those that have a high score on their GED tests. Therefore, you can use the GED to secure a job just like how you can use it to gain acceptance into college. In addition, a higher salary can be achieved with a GED even when most employers view GED and a high school diploma as the same.

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The Differences between GED and High School Diploma

Indeed, one can attain acceptance into any college of choice with a high school diploma or GED. In the same light, both achievements can also get one a job. However, they both have their differences that can’t be ruled out despite their numerous similarities. You can easily choose the ideal choice for you once you understand the differences between the two. The differences between these two will be discussed below.

Educational Prerequisites

The educational prerequisites that each program has serve as the biggest difference between a high school diploma and a GED. In order to be eligible to graduate in a high school, students go through specific courses and successfully complete them. However, earning a GED does not require the completion of specific coursework. Students in high school tend to have the opportunity of offering electives that increase their credit while their professional skills are groomed. Due to the importance of GED exam questions, a lot of vital preparations are made by students.

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Testing Prerequisites

Though GED does not require as much time as a high school diploma, it does not make it any easier. Grades earned by students in high school in their exams prepare and make them ready for graduation. Indeed, they are offered the opportunity to make up for low scores and even the chance to master tough topics. A successful completion of a series of four exams is all that is required of GED students. In fact, a long form and extended essay questions which consist of multiple choices make up the GED test. Unlike the high school diploma, GED students generally have lesser opportunities for making up low test scores. However, a GED student is allowed to take the GED exam three times each year if he does not reach a minimum of 60%.


Indeed, there is difference in the experience associated with a high school diploma and that of the GED. The opportunity to have an experience of more than the academic aspect is offered to students of a high school diploma. This is because they are allowed to check out new hobbies and interests, build friendships and enjoy school activities. Meanwhile, GED students mostly experience academic activities as they focus more on preparation for the GED exams.

Steps to choosing between a GED and High School Diploma

The decision of earning a credential with GED or a high school diploma seems to be a tough choice for many. Therefore, the steps discussed below will aid you in choosing a GED and high school diploma.

Consider your academic stance

The first step to effectively choosing between the both is considering your academic stance. For those who left high school a long time ago, GED may serve as an ideal option as they may not be eligible to go back to school. In contrast, it will serve better to complete your diploma if you already finished high school and just a short time from graduation. Though the GED takes just months to complete to complete, you may be able to earn your diploma in the same duration.

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Confirm your schedule and other entanglements

In order to be eligible for graduation in a high school program, there must be four years of full time regular attendance to classes. Therefore, this might not sit well with everyone. This is because some external factors may tend to hinder one from meeting up with these requirements. On the other hand, students are not of the obligation to regularly attend classes in GED. Indeed, with this being said, your schedule should help you decide which is better for you.

Take cognizance of your career goals

In the decision of earning a high school diploma or GED, you should take into cognizance your career goals. This is because the associated academic requirements and your career goals will be best to help you in deciding. Moreover, high school students are provided with the opportunity to gain life skills and vital management skills. Therefore, such a student may prove a more competitive candidate in a program or career as a result of the skills acquired. Though, a GED program also allows you opportunities to earn similar experiences and skills.

Conduct a thorough research

Indeed, it is very essential that you understand the prerequisites for a high school diploma or a GED before choosing one. This is necessary as it is advisable to understand the requirement for any type of degree. Furthermore, it is recommended that you conduct your research thoroughly on which program is best for the career route you are interested in.

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Can one apply for college with a high school diploma or GED?

Though many see high school diploma as the direct means to college, a GED also qualifies you for a college acceptance. In short, a GED is now considered to be equivalent to a high school diploma by most colleges currently. Note however, that individuals with GED may be required to couple it with a high SAT or ACT score. In addition, there should be letters of recommendation to accompany this and create an increased chance of acceptance. Due to the differences between each program, this can help meet up with the prerequisites for the program you desire.


Though many tend to prefer a high school diploma to a GED certificate, both can get you prospective jobs and acceptance into colleges of choice. Therefore, you can easily choose between the two as long as you can meet up with the requirements. I hope that this article on GED vs High School Diploma: Differences and Similarities has answered your questions and cleared your doubts.

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