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Before we get into the lessons, let's take a look at some important tips for taking the math section of the GED® test.

As with all sections of the GED® test, remember to:

  • Pace yourself
  • Answer every question
  • Eliminate answer choices whenever you can

And, above all, 

  • Relax! 

If you ever feel like you are struggling, relax. Be realistic. Be patient enough to get it right, and focused enough that you work out as many problems as you can to the best of your ability.


1. Read and understand the directions:

The Mathematics test consists of multiple-choice questions intended to measure general mathematics skills and problem-solving ability. The questions are based on short readings that often include a graph, chart, or figure.

Work carefully, but do not spend too much time on any one question. Be sure to answer every question. Only some of the questions will require you to use a formula. Not all the formulas given will be needed.

Some questions contain more information than you will need to solve the problem; other questions do not give enough information. If the question does not give enough information to solve the problem, the correct answer choice is “Not enough information is given.”

[Interpret this piece of information as meaning that you need to focus on the key elements necessary for calculating the problem. Rarely is there information that you don’t need. Even rarer is a problem that does not contain enough information for you to solve it.]

Part I: Calculators are allowed.

Part II: Calculators are not allowed.

Do not use the test booklet as scratch paper or as an answer sheet. The test administrator will give you blank paper for your calculations. Record your answers on the separate answer sheet provided. Be sure all information is properly recorded on the answer sheet.

To record your answers, fill in the numbered circle on the answer sheet that corresponds with the answer you selected for each question in the test booklet.

For Example:

If a grocery bill totaling $15.75 is paid with a $20.00 bill, how much change should be returned?

(1) $5.25

(2) $4.75

(3) $4.25

(4) $3.75

(5) $3.25

The correct answer is “$4.25”. Therefore, Answer 3 would be filled in on the answer sheet.

Do not rest the point of your pencil on the answer sheet while you are considering your answer. Make no stray or unnecessary marks. If you change an answer, erase your first mark completely.

Mark only one answer for each question; multiple answers will be scored as incorrect. Do not fold or crease your answer sheet. All test materials must be returned to the test administrator.

2. Know the formulas

Even though you will have a sheet of formulas to refer to, you should know these formulas well beforehand. Your goal should be to memorize as many formulas as possible to cut down on time spent looking for or figuring out a formula during the test.

Why else?

-Problems often require some insight and adaptation beyond just using the formula in front of you.

-Knowing formulas by heart will save time

Start with the Geometry formulas (Area, Circumference, Volume, Pythagorean Theorem.) The best way to memorize the formulas is by applying them to practice problems.

Additional important formulas will also be highlighted in the lessons.


1. Skim the directions at the beginning

From this course and your many practice sessions, you will already know the directions. You should still read the directions within the test, but the longer directions at the beginning are basically the same as what you just read above. Know what to do, and you won't have to waste time!

2. Complete the picture

If a diagram is not fully labeled with the numbers that are contained in the question, label them yourself in the appropriate places.

If a problem describes a shape or form but does not provide a picture, draw it and label the dimensions.


The perimeter of a square flower bed is 12 feet. What is the area of the flower bed in square feet?

A) 3

B) 12

C) 24

D) 9

E) There is not enough information to solve the problem.

First, draw your square.

You see that it has four sides of the same length. (Your drawing may not have all sides exactly the same length, but by simply sketching it, you have captured the idea.)

Since it has four equal sides, the perimeter must be divided equally among those sides. 12/4 = 3. Now label those sides.

The area can be represented by imagining grid lines.

You don’t have to draw the lines. Simply having a square in front of you provides a much clearer framework by which to consider the problem.

Supplying a picture for the problem also lets you know if enough information has been provided.

3. Narrow down your answer choices

For multiple-choice format questions, when finding a distinct answer escapes you or is too time-consuming, you can use the strategy of eliminating answer choices.

a. Eliminate impossible choices

Eliminate answer choices that obviously don’t fit.


A 5-foot ladder is leaning against a 20-foot wall. The bottom end of the ladder is 3 feet from the wall. How many feet above the ground does the ladder touch the wall?

A) 0.7

B) 2.5

C) 4

D) 7.5

E) 16

A 5-foot ladder leaning against a wall does not touch the wall at a height of greater than five feet. So you can immediately eliminate D) and E)

b. Eliminate answer elements

An answer choice can be eliminated on the basis of only part of it being wrong.


Which of the following pairs of points both lie on the line whose equation is 3x-y= 2?

A) (3,-2) and (1,5)

B) (2,4) and (1,5)

C) (2,-2) and (1,5)

D) (3,7) and (3,-2)

E) (2,4) and (3,7)

You start by plugging in (3,-2) from Answer A. It doesn't work, so you can eliminate it. (Don't bother trying the second coordinate pair. Even if it works, you can't choose A.)

Next, try (2,4) from B. It works. Circle it. Also notice that it is part of E, so circle it there, too.

Next, try (2,-2) from C. It does not work. Cross C out.

You are left with B and E, so you must try (1,5) or (3,7). You only need to try one of them. If it works, that's your answer. If not, the other choice is the right answer because there are no other choices left.

4. Estimate and round off

Again, this applies only to multiple-choice format questions. You can approximate and get close enough to identify the right answer without spending lots of time working out an exact figure.


A daredevil is shot out of a cannon a distance of 55 meters. His assistant’s stopwatch times him as being airborne for 12.5 seconds. At what speed did he travel?

A) 1.5

B) 3.2

C) 4.4

D) 5.6

E) 6

You can safely approximate, for example, that 12 goes into 50 at least 4 times and less than 5 times, so the answer is most likely C.

Back: Math Introduction | Next: Math Lesson 1A

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