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GED/ High School Diploma - What is the difference?

High School Diploma/ GED Comparison Chart


High School Diploma


What is it?

A high school diploma is a diploma awarded for completion of high school. In the United States, it is considered the minimum educational requirement for many jobs and higher education. An equivalent is the GED.

The GED test is an alternative way to receive your high school degree. The GED test is used to award high school equivalency credentials. Almost all U.S. colleges and universities accept the GED transcript for admissions purposes.

Who can get this?

Any resident of Philadelphia who has not had their 22nd birthday has the legal right to enroll in high school.  

You must be 18; a resident of Pennsylvania; and not enrolled in a regular high school.  In special circumstances, you can take the GED if you are at least 16. (See below)


How do you get it?

You receive a high school diploma by successfully completing all high school course requirements.

To receive a GED, you must pass the GED test.  There are programs that can help you prepare for this test or you can prepare yourself. 

Benefits with each degree:

Some employers will place a higher value on a high school degree than on a GED. 

A GED is a more flexible option.  It may be easier to get for someone who has been unable to complete high school. 

More Information about the GED:
Who can take the GED if they are under 18?
An applicant between 16-18 must meet at least one of the following criteria to qualify for testing. A court order or written request on company letterhead must be produced from one of the following:

  • The applicant must be offered a job upon earning the GED and produce written proof from an employer.
  • Acceptance at a college or university contingent upon applicant submitting GED test scores.
  • Acceptance into a branch of the Armed Services for which high school equivalency is a prerequisite.
  • Within 90 days of anticipated release or discharge, the director of state institution may request testing for residents, patients, or inmates.

GED scoring and retesting:
Pennsylvania requires a passing score of 2250 total points. Each test score can be no lower than 410 points. This means that each of the five tests should have an average score of 450 in order to meet the 2250 total. Applicants not passing each test may retest. An applicant can only test three times a year because there are only three different forms of the test. It is at the discretion of the Chief Examiner to determine the frequency of testing and retesting.

More about the GED Diploma:
The State issues the following credential based upon successful completion of the GED: Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma. Some school districts may exchange the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma for a high school diploma. The applicant must inquire directly to the school district in question. Upon successful completion of the GED test, a diploma will be issued through the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Only one diploma will be issued; duplicate diplomas are not issued. The diploma will be sent to the address that the applicant provided at the time of testing. Transcripts are issued when a diploma is lost. Information on how to apply for a transcript is available by calling (717) 787-6747. Or you may go to the following Web site for a transcript request form: www.ged.ed.state.pa.us. Diplomas will not be issued until the successful applicant is 18 years old.