GED is an acronym for the General Educational Development program. It involves a comprehensive examination that covers the following areas: functional English, mathematics, science, literature and the arts. Most of the test is multiple choice, but there is an essay in the functional English section. Once passed, the testee receives either a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate (it depends on the state) The passing rate is set by the particular state, but is usually a bit more than 50%. The age requirement is also set by the state. It ranges from 16 to 18 years of age.
The GED is a great way for high school dropouts to cheaply (around $40) get a diploma. This diploma allows access to jobs that require high school, and 95% of colleges accept GED holders for admission. Many say that a GED is not as good as a real high school diploma. However, the GED test is calibrated so that one-third of high school graduates can not pass it. Having a GED indicates that you have passed an exam that tests competency in the basic skills everyone "should" have learned in high school. Having a conventional high school diploma indicates that you warmed a seat for 12 years.