Paper- vs. Computer-Based HiSET


Taking the Paper-Based HiSET Exam

You can take the HiSET exam in a paper-based format. You will be given an answer sheet to fill in; this will be a page with circles, or bubbles, for the answer choices for each question. You will fill in the bubble corresponding to the answer choice you think is correct, using a no. 2 or HB pencil. (Remember to take pencils with you!) In the second half of the Writing Test, you will write your essay by hand. You will be allowed to use scratch paper for calculations and to organize your thoughts for the essay. You will also be permitted to use a calculator provided by the test center. You may NOT bring your own calculator on Test Day.

Taking the Computer-Based HiSET Exam

Depending on where you live and/or the test center you choose, you may take the HiSET exam on a computer. This means that to succeed on the test, you will need to familiarize yourself with basic computer skills. If you do not have a computer at home and are not familiar with computers, try to find a computer you can use to practice using a mouse, typing on a keyboard, and navigating through items on a computer screen. Many public libraries or community centers have computers you can use. Your state department of education may know of other resources.
If you are taking the computer-based version of the HiSET exam, you must still test at a testing center established by your state. You cannot test at home. Unfortunately, there may be unscrupulous people who will try to sell you an “online” version of the HiSET exam for you to take at home over the Internet. This is not a real HiSET exam, so don’t be taken in.

Navigating through questions

You will use the mouse to choose answers to questions, and also to move from one question to the next. The upper right corner of your screen will look something like this:
computer-based hiset
Click “Back” to return to a previous question. Click “Next” to move to the next question.

Tools to use as you are answering questions

If you get stuck on a question or are unsure of your answer, you can check the box labeled “Mark” and return to it later.

computer-based hiset

One extremely useful button is labeled “Review.”

computer-based hiset

Clicking this will give you an overview of all of the questions in that section: those you’ve answered, those you haven’t answered, those you’ve marked for review, and those you haven’t looked at yet. Using this will allow you to keep track of the status of each question.

computer-based hiset

If you are taking the computer version of the HiSET exam, you will be able to use an on-screen calculator that has the basic functions needed for the kinds of questions you’ll encounter on the exam. You can access the online calculator at any time during the test by clicking on the word “Calc.”

On the Writing Test, you will use the keyboard to type your essay into a text box. You will have some basic word-processing tools such as insert text, delete, cut-and-paste, and undo. You will not have any spelling- or grammar-checking functions. If you are taking the test in Spanish, there will be a toolbar available in the Essay subtest so that you can insert special characters as needed.

Managing your time

At the top-right corner of the screen, you will see a timer telling you how much time remains in that section. You may want to leave the timer up for the entire test or only check it periodically if you find it distracting. When the timer is showing, the button below it will say “Hide Time.” Click it to remove the timer from the screen.

computer-based hiset

computer-based hiset