How to Spot a Fake GED or High School Diploma
The GED ® (General Education Development) test offers a second chance to those who lack a formal high school degree. But for high school diploma mills, offering a fake GED diploma online is just another way to scam students.
A diploma mill is a online high school or university that sells worthless degrees. While it can be tricky identifying these fake schools, it isn’t impossible (check out Diploma Mill or Real Online Degree? 10 Ways to Spot the Fake). Once you know a few key facts, you can easily determine if that online GED program you’ve been exploring is real or a dangerous scam.
Read on for tips on how to make sure you're not getting a fake GED diploma online.
How to Recognize a Fake GED Scam
1. Can I take the GED test at home?
No. If a website claims you can earn GED certification online from the comfort of your own home, you’ve absolutely stumbled across a high school diploma mill. No one can take the GED test at home. Unlike formal high school degrees, which can be earned online, GED certification must be earned in person.
The GED Testing Service, a venture between the American Council on Education and Pearson, is the only nationally recognized facilitator for the national GED test. No other institution currently legally administers the GED tests.
2. Where can I take a GED test?
According to GED Testing Service president Randy Trask, the official GED test can only be given in person at an official testing center, usually a community college or other non-profit educational organization. Websites that claim otherwise are scams.
Visit gedtestingservice.com to find an approved testing location close to you.
3. Isn’t the GED test taken online?
It is available as an online or written test, but again, only at an official testing center. You will need to travel to an approved testing site where your ID will be checked and you will be supervised while taking a computerized (online) version of the GED.
4. Is the “GED Online” test the same as a GED test?
No, the GED Online test is another common diploma mill scam. The GED Online is a made-up test offered by high school diploma mills. Colleges will not accept a GED Online test in lieu of a GED diploma or high school degree.
Diploma mills use tricky wording to disguise the fact they can’t actually award GED certification. Watch out for sites that suggest you can take an online GED test to earn a high school degree. A high school degree cannot be earned with a single test.
5. How much does the GED test cost?
Cost currently varies from state to state, but typically the cost is less than $100. (The cost is scheduled to rise to $120 in January 2014.) Diploma mills typically charge around $249 or more for an online GED test—but all you get is a worthless piece of paper.
6. Are online GED classes a safe option?
Yes, many websites do offer free GED classes and study materials. Online classes can be a great way to prepare for the real GED test. You can also purchase GED test books online or borrow them from your local library. In fact, if you are confused about the GED test, your local library is a great place to go for trustworthy advice on local GED certification options and resources, many of them free.
Many non-profit adult education centers also provide classes and resources for the GED test. Sites such as yourged.org can help you find a local education center. Many of these resource sites are free and offer online course materials.
Some websites offer legitimate sample tests and pamphlets for purchase as well. But if the site also offers online GED tests and high school diplomas, it’s likely a diploma mill. Close your web browser and purchase your GED test study materials elsewhere.
Rachel Wang is a writer, editor and producer with a background in journalism and online media. She holds a master's degree in library and information science and specializes in online learning news and trends for the Get Educated news team.
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