Helping Someone in Prison Get a GED

We believe that motivation, from you, and tenacity of the incarcerated individual will lead to successful General Education Diploma (GED) enrollment at the jail or prison. When that happens, you both should be applauded; research clearly shows that this is a definite step towards never having to serve time together again.

So ask yourself, What can I do to help someone who is in prison to get a GED?

To determine how you can help, first consider what the process has been so far. Fashion artist Alex Noble said, “Success is a process, a quality of mind and way of being, an outgoing affirmation of life.” 

You two are in a process. You have both spent some time on enrollment. The incarcerated person has taken a test to determine their school level. After completing the exam, an adult correctional GED teacher assessed the student’s academic capabilities. All of those steps make up the process and it is something you both need to embrace as an accomplishment.

Next Step

Find out what grade level your loved one was placed, based on a K-12 school system. By knowing that, you can offer the right material and resources to them. 

GED teachers in prison instruct their students in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. These professionals also help students improve their critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.

Even if you are in a position where academic pursuits aren’t your strong point, you can still offer some simple help and check on your loved one’s progress frequently. 

Ways to Help

Like high school, the big goal is to finish. For your loved one that means qualifying to take the actual GED test. If they were placed in a lower grade, say K-8, they will have to pass a test to reach the 9-12 level. 

Your first role is to make sure you and your partner make the most out of the schooling being offered before the more intense, higher level concentration of passing the GED becomes the focal point.


Listen closely to your partner about what they are doing in class. If they tell you that certain areas aren’t making sense, you can use your internet access to get them additional worksheets with answers and even learn about the topic yourself so the two of you can begin conversing about it. You can email or write to the teachers, principal, librarian at the prison and become a part of their education experience. Many don’t realize that the prison school can be reached, but it certainly can.

Focus on the Unknown

One good tip is to tell your loved ones to make sure they focus on what they don’t know. Many prison students are excited to go over the work they are not as challenged by because of their minimal positive school experiences before imprisonment. You can quiz them and focus them back on what they are not grasping which will ultimately help them qualify to take the GED test. 

Use the Library

A prison student can get additional information from the library on any subject they are studying. Please encourage them to do that. There are also guides and study books you may want to consider to help them with their journey.

Forward Progress

The key to moving the process along is good reading and writing skills. You and your partner should read together. Read the same books, articles, and anything the two of you can share. Letter writing is alive and well in the prison system so encourage writing to each other and focus on how you write so your loved one reads correct grammar.

At home you can use a free grammar tool before sending a letter and you should encourage them to apply their new writing skills before mailing the letter. If they are comfortable, you can even check their letters grammatically and send them back to them so they can learn from their mistakes.

For many, mathematics is more challenging. Ask your loved one for specific math problems and use the internet to solve the problems. Send the answers back by mail and include step-by-step instructions to help them see and learn how to find the solution. If you aren’t confident helping with math, remind them there are tutors and math resource centers in prison.

Serving Time Together

Remember, in many cases, the most important thing is caring. Caring enough to take the time to work on a math problem, craft a grammatically correct letter, and discuss a prisoner’s educational progress will encourage them to get up and go to school instead of sleeping in that day. 

Their teacher will tell them when you write or call to check on their progress which will indicate how much you care. Learning about the subjects they struggle with is a connection to serving time together but doing so will help your incarcerated loved one create better opportunities to live and lead a successful life as a productive citizen.