What is a GED: A 2024 Guide for Canadians

If you are looking to get a high school diploma you must have heard about the General Education Diploma or GED. 

But what is a GED and is it different from a high school diploma? Do employers or colleges require you to have a GED? What does the test consist of and is it difficult to pass?

Read on for all the answers. 

What is a GED in Canada?

So, what does GED stand for in Canada?

GED is an acronym for General Education Development. It is an internationally recognized test designed for adults who for one reason or another have not managed to start or complete secondary school but want to improve their career opportunities or continue education at college or university. 

What Is a GED Diploma?

Canadians who successfully pass the GED exam will obtain a High School Diploma Equivalency. In other words, getting your GED means you are equipped with the basic knowledge and skills expected of a high school graduate. 

Worth noting: Not all colleges and universities accept GED as a high school diploma equivalent. Others might require you take extra courses that the GED curriculum does not cover. Always check with your chosen university or college for all the eligibility requirements before applying. 

Start saving for your children’s post-secondary education with the Registered Education Savings Plan.

GED vs Diploma: What Is the Difference?

As mentioned above the GED is a high school equivalency diploma, however, it is not the same as a high school diploma.  

Although both mean that you have the credentials and the knowledge to pursue a career or higher education, the path to obtaining the diplomas, along with some other distinctions, are what sets the two apart. 

Here is more on the differences between a diploma from a high school and a GED

Educational Requirements 

To finish high school, students must attend regular classes and complete coursework for the duration of four years in various academic areas like history, math and languages, science, and social studies. 

A GED, however, does not have any specific coursework requirements. All you need to do to obtain the certificate is pass the exam.

Learning Experience 

Attending high school not only prepares for future academic endeavours, but it is also an opportunity to craft your social skills by engaging in various school activities, thus building relationships that might shape the rest of your life. 

A GED, on the other hand, offers none of those benefits. Instead, it focuses solely on testing academic skills. 

Testing Requirements 

Graduation requirements differ greatly between provinces. For instance, students in Ontario are required to have 18 compulsory, at least two online learning and 12 optional credits, as well as complete community involvement activities (40 hours) and pass the literacy requirement. In Alberta, a student needs to earn a minimum of 100 credits from several subjects.

On the other hand, the structure and test scores of the GED exam is the same in all provinces. 

Want to teach your kids valuable lessons and skills from an early age? Here are a few job ideas for a 10-year-old.

Testing Requirements 

GED Test Specifics

GED is a standardized test that examines knowledge in five academic areas.

The total duration of the test is 7 hours and it can be taken on paper or online, although not all provinces offer the latter. All five sessions can be taken at once, or one at a time. 

Eligibility Criteria

In order to take the test, there are certain criteria that must be met although these depend on the province where you live. 

In general, candidates need to be 

  • Canadian residents, (depending on the residency requirements, some provinces will allow candidates who don’t live there to take the test, but others won’t)
  • 18 years old (or 19 if they reside in Newfoundland, Labrador or Manitoba)
  • Out of school for at least 10 months to a full year (depending on the province)

GED takers cannot be high school graduates (for obvious reasons), while those who are homeschooled need to provide proof of their education to be able to take the test. 

Test Sections

The test is separated into five different sections. Each section contains 40 to 50 multiple-choice questions and a limited time in which you can answer them. 

Here is more on each section of the GED exam:

Subjects  Test Topics Time Questions
  • Number operations & and number sense
  • Measurement and geometry
  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability
  • Algebra, functions, and patterns

90 minutes

Two parts, 50 questions*

*Calculator for Part I only

Language Arts, Reading 
  • Poetry, drama, prose
  • Visual and performing arts reviews
  • Workplace and community documents

65 minutes

4-8 questions per passage
Language Arts, Writing
  • Organization sentence structure, usage, mechanics (part 1)
  • Essay (Part 2)

75 minutes (Part 1)

45 minutes (Part 2)

50 multiple choice questions & writing
Social Studies
  • History (Canada & world)
  • Geography
  • Civics and government
  • Economics

70 minutes

50 multiple-choice questions 
  • Physics and Chemistry
  • Life science
  • Earth and Space science

80 minutes

50 multiple choice questions

Test Scores 

You must pass all five sections to get a GED degree, meaning that you need a minimum of 450 points out of a max of 800 on each of the five subjects, or at least 60 to 65% correct answers in each section.  

How Much Does it Cost to Take Your GED in Canada?

The fees vary by province. 

Before taking the GED exam, always check with your local GED center for more accurate information on their fee policy.

As per province, these are the following fees:

  • Alberta: $200
  • Manitoba: $75
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: $30
  • Nunavut: $175
  • Ontario: $100
  • Quebec: $175
  • Saskatchewan: $35
  • Yukon Territory: $150
Related reading:

What are the worst (and best) provinces to live in Canada?

How Do You Get a GED in Canada?

If you are interested in obtaining a GED certificate, these are the steps you need to follow:

1. Check if You Are Eligible

Take a look at your province’s rules and regulations regarding the GED test: do you meet the criteria, how much does it cost, is there an option to take the exam online or do you have to go for a paper test?

2. Open an Account on the GED Website

Here you will find out more about the test as well as get access to study materials. Opening an account is free and easy to set up.

3. Schedule the Test

Check available dates in a test center near you and think about whether you want to take all five subjects in one day or split them up. 

4. Prepare for the Test

You can study on your own by using the many online study materials or you could enroll in a prep course and take classes from an experienced GED tutor. 

Either way, make sure to take a few practice tests before to get an idea of what the actual exam looks like. This will also give you a confidence boost and reassure you that you are ready to take the real-life exam. 

5. Take the Test

Keep calm and concentrate on the question in front of you. Remember the GED test is seven hours long so you need to be prepared mentally and physically. 

Test results will be ready within 24 hours if you took the test online or 4 to 6 weeks for paper exams.

If you fail, you can retake the test (up to three times in one year), however, bear in mind that in some provinces you might be required to pay an extra fee for retaking the exam. 

How Do You Get a GED in Canada

GED Alternatives 

If you don’t think the GED test is the right option for you, there are several provinces that offer special adult learner courses that can help you get a high school diploma equivalent. 

If you have a previous learning experience in a formal, informal or experimental environment, you could undertake a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR). This scheme allows individuals to identify and document prior learning and use it to obtain academic credit for courses that award certificates, degrees or diplomas. 

Bottom Line: Why Is the GED Important?

Obtaining a GED, or a high school diploma, is crucial if you want to get a high-paying job or pursue education further and enroll in college or university. 

What’s more, you will acquire general knowledge in essential academic areas that will give you the foundation you need to develop critical thinking and creative skills that will serve you in your personal as well as professional life. 


How hard is the GED test in Ontario?

If you have studied well enough and have prepared in time, the test is not harder than obtaining a high school diploma. Anyone who has some basic knowledge and puts in the time and effort can pass the exam.

Is the GED available in Canada?

Yes, although not in all provinces so check if it is available where you live before applying. 

How many times can you fail the GED?

In case you don’t pass one of the test subjects the first time, you can retake those sections two more times. If you fail for the third time, you must wait 60 days to retake the test

You are allowed to take the full exam up to three times in one year, although this depends on the province where you take the test as each has their own regulations.

What is a GED and can I use it to get a job?

Most employers in Canada will recognize the GED as an equivalent of a high school diploma, so if you have not completed your secondary education but want to boost your skills and resume, a GED is a good option to consider.


Mila is an English literature student and a devoted animal's rights advocate. Despite her love for the written word, she's a keen observer of the everyday world and an excellent researcher with a bright and fresh perspective. When she's not doing research, you're most likely to find her out for a walk with her dog or binge-watching a TV show.

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