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What's the difference between a high school diploma and a GED?

Most high school diplomas are earned at traditional, four-year, secondary schools after students successfully complete a state-mandated number of credits or semester hours. With the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, states were also required to deliver standards-based high school graduation exams, as another condition of receiving a high school diploma.

For many adult learners with life circumstances that prevent them from regular attendance at day high schools, the traditional high school diploma has become a burden to attain. In some states, adult high schools that offer night classes prove to be a good choice. Some states and private schools also offer online high school programs to earn a diploma. For others, the GED option works best, because of flexible study and ample testing opportunities.

The General Equivalency Diploma, or GED, consists of five sections: math, social studies, science, language arts, reading, and language arts, writing. The language arts, writing, component requires students to write a well-organized essay. A General Equivalency Diploma is nationally recognized by employers, community, and online colleges. Adult education campuses and online programs can help you prepare for the GED.

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