The GED® – an out-the-box school exit solution

Guest post by Shirley Erwee

As the school system faces increasing pressure and problems, more and more people are looking for alternative educational solutions – solutions like online learning, home education and cottage schools.

The GED® is an American high school equivalency credential that’s been growing in popularity among the homeschool community and other alternative education providers in recent years.

It’s ideal for homeschoolers, adults or anyone who wants or needs a substitute for matric or grade 12.

Let’s discover the many reasons why this unconventional alternative is so popular:

Flexibility is one of the greatest attractions, followed by affordability.

The GED® tests only 4 subjects, so there are only 4 exams to take and you can take them all year round. There is no need to wait until June or November of each year. You can take each test when you are ready. Exams are taken on computer at over 40 centres around the country.

There is also no deadline for taking all 4 exams. You don’t have to take them all in the same academic year or within any given time frame. You can take as little or as much time as you need.

For fast learners, this means that they can fast-track their education, take the GED® by age 17 and get stuck into tertiary studies or career training that is more interesting to them than traditional high school subjects.

For struggling learners, or students with learning difficulties, or students juggling jobs and studies, it means that they can study at their own pace, fill in any gaps in their skills in each subject and only take each exam when they know that they have mastered the required skills. There are online study programmes such as Online GED Prep™ to build their confidence and prepare them for the tests.


Compared to other out-of-school alternatives, the GED® is probably one of the most affordable options available.

Where most grade 12 distance education courses cost in the tens of thousands of rands for enrolment and exam fees, the GED® cost considerably less and the costs can be spread out and paid as and when it suits your budget. You get to choose!

To enroll in the online study program is currently (2021) R2700 for one year and each of the 4 tests costs USD $80 each. Since you can book and pay for each test whenever it suits you, this means that you can save up and pay for them one by one if necessary.

Is the GED® accepted in South Africa?

The GED® is recognized by the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) and students can apply for a Certificate of Evaluation from them if necessary.

When paired with a one year Higher Certificate course from a South African college or university or a first year degree course from an online overseas university, students may be eligible to apply for admission to degree courses at South African universities*. It is advisable to always check the admission requirements with each institution as they do vary from faculty to faculty.

There are multiple testimonials from past GED® graduates who have found career success after completing this qualification – some are studying degrees in fields like IT, Psychology, Business and Marketing, some are working in creative fields like Animation, Filmmaking and Graphic Design, while others are pursuing trades.

The GED® gives homeschoolers FREEDOM

Because the GED® tests SKILLS rather than rote memorization and knowledge of content, there is no prescribed curriculum to keep you in a learning straight-jacket. Home educating families can pick and choose any educational resources they like and give their children a customized, eclectic education right up until the point that they decide their children are ready, and old enough to take the GED® tests.

There is no need to follow the national curriculum that is used in schools. Your children can work on essential skills like math and languages, but will also have time and freedom to pursue other things that interest them – like other academic subjects, music, hobbies, sport, business ventures, charity work or whatever takes their fancy. These ‘other things’ are often the things that children end up pursuing as their careers! These are the things that delight, inspire and motivate them and this educational option allows them to get a head start in those things!

Students must be age 17 or older to be eligible for the exams and they usually cope well with the online study program if they have achieved about grade 10 level in math and English before they tackle the GED® prep. It’s a stepping stone on their educational path that opens doors to future opportunities without boxing them into the conventional system that is under pressure and unravelling fast.

Freedom, flexibility, future opportunities and cash left in your pocket. Why wouldn’t you choose the GED®?

Shirley Erwee is a homeschooling mother of 6 children, who has been home educating for over 20 years, since 1997. She believes that freedom of choice and customized learning is a key ingredient for happy and effective (home) education. She is co-author of the self-paced, literature-based Footprints On Our Land – South African Homeschool Curriculum and she also runs Online GED Prep™ and Starting Homeschooling.

*Learn more about University with a GED®

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