The Best GED Study Guides for 2021

August 21, 2021

If for any reason, you weren’t able to get your high school diploma, there’s still a way for you to earn a similar if not equivalent credential by getting a GED or General Education Diploma. Having a GED can offer greener pastures and more opportunities for every individual who gets it, especially since most employers in the United States require their applications to have a high school diploma at the very least or something else with the equivalent value.

If you don’t have a high school diploma, then taking the GED test and earning the diploma would be the next best step. You might be wondering: what exactly is the GED exam? Well, this particular test was created to determine whether you have the same academic skills as that of a high school senior. As such, the exam will be composed of four subject areas: science, math, language arts, and social studies.

This can seem intimidating to anyone thinking about taking the exam, especially since this is a lot of information you’ll need to remember. Fortunately, there are some ways you can make the studying experience much easier for yourself by using GED study guides. GED study guides or study books are all created to help you learn and internalize the material you’ll be tested on.

In this article, we’ll help guide you through the best GED study guides available so you can find the one that suits your needs. After that, we’ll also offer you some study tips to keep in mind to help you pass the exam with flying colors.

The Best GED Study Guides

Before diving straight into the various books listed below, we want to take a moment to explain how we chose these books in the first place. For one thing, all the books listed below are from renowned and reputable test prep publishers and companies. If you browse through Amazon for GED prep books, you’ll undoubtedly come across a plethora of books.

However, many of these books are from unaccredited organizations or small publishers that don’t have a proven track record—unlike the ones found on this list. Of course, we’re not saying that those books aren’t any good at all and that you won’t be able to learn anything from them, but we prefer to go for those books with a reputation for success.

Other than that, we narrowed down the list even further by only choosing books that are incredibly thorough. We made sure that the information provided is as in-depth and as comprehensive as possible.

Now, without further ado, here are some of the best GED study guides you should definitely get your hands on.

McGraw-Hill Education Pre-GED, Third Edition

If it’s been a while since you’ve been out of school, the concept of trying to get used to studying and preparing for an exam once again can understandably be daunting. This is exactly the reason why we think this pre-GED book by McGraw-Hill is fantastic, especially for those who are a bit rusty. As its title implies, this pre-GED book takes you back to square one: the basics.

This book teaches you all about core concepts you’ll need to remember as you tackle the GED exam, including basic math and grammar rules. Plus, it tries to make the exam a little less intimidating by breaking down the various lessons and concepts into “micro lessons.” This way, you don’t have to learn things in overwhelming bulk, but in bite-sized pieces instead.

What else? The McGraw-Hill pre-GED book also has a companion app to go along with it. This is perfect if you’re on the go but you don’t want to carry around a heavy book with you. This way, you can still keep studying no matter where you are.

5 Practice Exams for the GED Test by The Princeton Review

If you’re someone who only needs a little extra practice before taking the GED exam, this book is for you. As its name suggests, this particular book contains five full-length practice exams for the GED. Most of the study books on this list have at least one practice exam included in the guide, but this one stands out because it only contains practice tests.

Not only that but there’s also an extra section in the book that carefully explains how to solve for each answer. This is perfect if you want to learn where you went wrong—you can simply check the additional section to see how to fix your mistake.

Barron’s GED Test Flash Cards

These GED test flashcards are perfect for those who are busy and on the go, especially if they’re already familiar with the material but they just want something to regularly refresh their minds. You might be thinking: “but that’s not a study book!” Yes, that may be true, but these flashcards are perfect study guides on your journey to taking the GED exam.

You see, this contains expertly curated flashcards that cover the various material you’ll find on the test. Besides, flashcards are one of the best and most effective study tools out there—some people would even manually create flashcards for themselves when they’re studying. To save yourself time and effort, you can get these ready-made flashcards and integrate them into your study routine.

Plus, you can bring these cards with you wherever you go; you can work your way through them while you go about your day. When you come across a card you don’t know the answer to, you can keep it apart from the rest. In this way, you can easily review the more challenging material and do your best to remember them for the exam.

GED Test Prep Plus 2021: 2 Practice Tests + Proven Strategies by Kaplan

Kaplan is a corporation that has been releasing test prep books since 1938, so you know for certain that their study guides are effective. If you want a top-of-the-line study guide that teaches you and helps you understand different concepts, you may want to check out Kaplan’s GED Test Prep Plus 2021 book. This is actually the main reason why we love this book, as it carefully breaks down difficult concepts to make them easier to swallow.

For instance, many books would typically lump together major topics into one big unit. Many readers would find this intimidating and hard to digest. However, it’s completely different from this book by Kaplan. So, for instance, let’s say that the major topic you’re reading about is “Earth and Space Science.” Instead of putting every piece of information into one section, this book breaks it down into five different subtopics with their own respective practice problems.

These subtopics would fall along the lines of: “Structure of the Earth,” “Earth’s Resources,” “Weather and Climate,” “Earth in the Solar System,” and “The Expanding Universe.” By doing this, you can easily work through the different concepts without feeling like you’re being overloaded with information. Not only that, if you think that you’ve already mastered a particular subtopic, you don’t have to waste your time reading through it anymore.

Master the GED Test 2020 by Petersen’s

Having a sufficient amount of study time is a necessity when you’re preparing for the GED exam—or for any exam for that matter. But what do you do if you’re short on time? Aside from the fact that you need to make every second count, another effective way is to do targeted studying. Basically, targeted studying is when you only focus on studying certain topics where you know you need the most practice.

If you want to focus on targeted studying, then Petersen’s Master the GED Test 2020 book is the one for you. One reason why we think this book is so great is that it contains various diagnostic and practice tests for you to go through. If you want to know which areas of the GED you need to focus on, this is where diagnostic tests come into play. Practice tests, on the other hand, are perfect for ensuring that you’re learning and improving in the subjects you’re the weakest in.

What’s more, this particular book has a dedicated section just for test-taking strategies. As we all know, passing an exam isn’t just about knowing the test material by heart, you also need to know how to take the test. As such, it’s important to know about effective test-taking strategies such as the process of elimination as well as time management. These strategies will greatly improve your score—more than you can imagine!

GED Test For Dummies

Last but not least, we also have something for those who don’t like study guides at all. The For Dummies series is probably familiar to you, or you’ve probably heard of it at the very least. These books are typically known for being both fun and easy to read, which is one of the reasons why they’re so popular in the first place. The same thing can be said of their GED Test book, too.

Most of the study guides listed above focus on being comprehensive yet technical. This book, on the other hand, utilizes casual writing and storytelling to help you learn various concepts easily. As such, it’s definitely much easier to read and comprehend than all the other books on this list.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that it’s not as effective as the other study guides. In fact, GED Test For Dummies explains different concepts easily and concisely, which makes them easier to digest. Not only that, but it also contains most if not all the major material you’ll be tested on, along with strategies and practical tips.

Study Tips to Pass the GED Exam

Now that you have an idea of which study guide is the best option for you, the next stage is to start studying. As mentioned, passing the GED exam isn’t just about studying with all your might—you need to utilize the best study strategies if you want an excellent score on the test. Study hard but also study smart, and these tips will show you how:

Know Your Target Score

First and foremost, you need to determine what your target score is. The GED exam has four portions, and each one is scored on a scale of 100 to 200. 100 being the lowest score while 200 is a perfect one. Each of the four sections will be scored individually, but those scores will be taken and combined into one overall score. If you want to pass the GED exam and earn your diploma, you need to have a score of 145 on each of the four subjects.

Outside of this, scores are categorized into four different sections:

  • Not Passing — This means that you weren’t able to get a score of 145 on one subject or more.
  • Passing Score — If you get a passing score, this means that you were able to score at least 145 on every subject test. This goes to show that your skills and knowledge level is equivalent to that of a high school senior student.
  • GED College Ready — If the distinction you receive after you take the exam is GED College Ready, this means that you were able to get a cumulative score of 165-175. In some cases, there are colleges that choose to waive placement testing or remediation for those students who get this kind of score. Of course, this only applies to some colleges, and you’ll have to check with the institution you want to enroll in.
  • GED College Ready + Credit — Lastly, if you were able to get a cumulative score of 175 or above, your score will be categorized into this distinction. This indicates that your knowledge is already at college level. As such, there are some universities that will give you college credit as an award. This way, you’ll be able to graduate college faster and significantly save you money in the long run.

Take a GED Diagnostic Test

Various people take the GED exam, but most of the time, these exam takers haven’t been in school for quite some time. That’s perfectly okay! Just because you’ve been out of school for a while doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance at scoring well on the GED test. Of course, it’s only natural that you may be a bit rusty on some of the skills and concepts present during the exam.

As such, we highly recommend that you take a GED diagnostic test first to know where you stand. This type of test will help you see which concepts you have strong knowledge of and which ones you’ll need to focus your time and attention on. And don’t worry—you’re not supposed to study for a diagnostic test, so just jump right into it.

Start Studying Immediately

Studying can be such a bore, and it’s normal to want to put it off for a couple of weeks or months. However, it has been scientifically proven that cramming doesn’t help you ace an exam, especially one like the GED where you have to study four different subjects.

You may not want to hear this, but you’re going to need to start studying a couple of months in advance—even before you’ve signed up to take the test. In fact, it’s best if you start studying about two months before the test date.

On the positive side of things, studying early will significantly lessen your stress levels. This will help you digest information in smaller chunks rather than trying to understand everything in a short span of time.

You Must Have a Set Study Time Daily

Not only do you have to study in advance, but you also need to study every day, too. Of course, this doesn’t mean you need to spend three hours a day just studying, but you need to integrate studying into your daily schedule or routine—and you need to stick with it!

There are two ways you can make studying an everyday habit. First, you can set a specific time every day just for studying. Make sure that during this set time, your surroundings are calm, and you won’t be distracted. Some examples would be a few hours before you start preparing for work or after your whole family has settled down for bedtime. During this time, make sure that you spend about 15 to 30 minutes working through your prep book.

If the first method doesn’t work for you and your busy schedule, then try working through at least one small subsection of your study guide every day. As mentioned above, there are some books that separate concepts into easy-to-understand sections. This allows you to still study and learn despite having a busy schedule.

Study With a Timer

As we all know, the GED is a timed exam, so you don’t have the liberty to take all the time in the world when taking the test. Mathematical Reasoning typically takes 115 minutes, Reasoning Through Language Arts takes 150 minutes with an extra 45 minutes for the essay section, Science takes 90 minutes, while Social Studies takes 70 minutes.

That’s why it’s important for you to practice studying with a timer, as this helps you get accustomed to the test’s time constraints. In this way, you’ll be more than ready and won’t be flustered by the time you’ll be taking the actual GED exam.


Passing the GED and getting a good score can do wonders for you and your future. Not only will this open up a path towards a good school, you’ll also be given countless other opportunities like scholarships and more. We’ve made sure to list down some of the best GED study guides out there, so if you don’t know where to start, feel free to refer to this article.

About the Author Prabhakaran

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