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Math GED Preparation

by JJ Stier

The General Educational Development test's mathematics section consists of two 25 question math parts. The first step in preparing for the math test is to learn how to use the on-screen calculator that will be available during Section I, for questions 1-25. For Section II, you will not be able to use a calculator. Students should familiarize themselves with basic geometrical shapes and measurements, number lines, word problems, decimals, fractions, and basic algebra for Section II and practice doing these without a calculator.

Section I and the On-Screen Calculator

The GED calculator, the Texas Instruments, TI 30-sx, is identical to the online calculator that will appear on your screen for the math portion of the GED. You should practice using it with math problems for several weeks before taking the exam. This calculator computes square roots, decimals, fraction-decimal conversions, exponents, parentheses and percentages. The best way to learn how to use this scientific calculator is to view an instructional video, such as the TI-30sx Demonstration Video on YouTube, provided by the GED Testing Service.

Preparing for Section II Without a Calculator

Because Section II will not allow you to use a calculator, plan to work out the problems by hand on paper, which will be allowed throughout the test. Besides the calculator, another useful resource for GED math preparation is the GED formula sheet that will be provided to test takers. This formula sheet provides the formulas for finding area, circumference, perimeter and volume of various geometrical shapes and contains formulas such as the Pythagorean theorem, formulas for distance, interest and measures of central tendency. Learning these formulas, and when to apply them, can help you excel on the GED's math section.

Preparing for Data Analysis Questions

GED data analysis questions include figuring measures of central tendency -- the average or middle value of a data set -- and include questions about charts, schedules and graphs. The information you need to solve these questions will be provided to you either in the formula sheet or in the questions themselves. Even if you are not confident about your ability to do complex calculations, these questions actually test your ability to read and understand figures and charts rather than do complex calculations, and therefore you should review these to build your confidence and speed in reading bar graphs, charts and schedules.

Algebra, Measurement and Geometry

Your formula sheet will help you with many of the more complex questions and you should review how to apply these formulas to the kinds of geometry, measurement, and algebra questions you will get on the GED math section. For example, if you get a question on a GED practice test that asks you to calculate the perimeter of a rectangle, you should refer to your formula sheet to find the answer because you are provided with the formula for perimeter = 2 x length + 2 x width. Practicing with the formula sheet will help you prepare for the more complex questions on the GED math section.

About the Author

JJ Stier , who earned a EdM from Harvard and MA from the University of Oregon, teaches English in higher education and K-12. She is particularly attuned to issues in education and parenting. She has spent many years in community colleges and universities teaching preparatory and developmental reading and writing and has served on committees that shape college policy in developmental studies.

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