What's Tested on the HiSET?

HiSET stands for “High School Equivalency Test.” The HiSET exam measures whether you have achieved a level of academic accomplishment equivalent to having graduated from high school. Visit the HiSET website to be sure the HiSET exam is offered in your state or jurisdiction. You should also review the eligibility requirements for your state or jurisdiction.
You may have heard people refer to getting a high school equivalency degree as “getting a GED.” However, this way of referring to the degree is inaccurate. The GED® is an exam that has long been used in most states to determine whether a person should be granted a high school equivalency degree by the state. The degree itself is not “a GED.” Recently, some states have decided to stop using the GED test or to offer another testing option in addition to the GED test for people who are seeking a high school equivalency degree. The HiSET exam is one such alternative to the GED test. Since 2013, the HiSET exam from Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion from McGraw-Hill Education CTB have been adopted by numerous states because they are more affordable and more widely accessible than the GED test. What’s important to remember is that all three tests allow someone to earn a high school equivalency credential. Contact your state’s department of education to find out which exam you should study for.
There are two ways to take the HiSET exam: using paper and pencil or on a computer. Which format you will take may depend on your state. Contact your state’s department of education to find out whether you will test on paper or on a computer. It may be that you have a choice, or your state may require you to test in a specific format.
The HiSET exam is also available in Spanish. If you would like to take the Spanish version of the test, contact your state’s department of education to find out if and where you can test in Spanish.
The HiSET exam is composed of five subtests in the following subjects:

  • Language Arts — Reading
  • Language Arts — Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies


When to Take the HiSET Exam

When should you plan to take the HiSET exam? The best answer is: When you’re ready. You may have to do a significant amount of studying before being ready to test, especially if you have been away from school for some years. That said, it can be helpful for you to set a goal—a date by which you would like to have the HiSET completed. Having a date in mind can motivate you to stick to your study schedule and manage your studies. It can also help you stay focused on your ultimate goal of earning your high school equivalency degree.

Registering for the Exam

How you will register for the exam depends partly on your state. Contact your state’s department of education or visit http://hiset.ets.org to learn more.
The HiSET exam provides services and accommodations for those who have a disability or health-related need. If you have a disability that would require an approved accommodation, you can learn more at http://hiset.ets.org/take/disabilities—and plan ahead: Allow at least 6 weeks for your request to be processed.
If you do not meet the minimum HiSET score requirements, you can take it again up to two additional times within a calendar year. For additional information regarding retake policies, visit http://hiset.ets.org/take/schedule/retake.

Scoring Information

Each of the 5 subtests is scored on a scale of 1–20. In order to pass the HiSET exam, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Achieve a score of at least 8 on each of the 5 subtests
  • Score at least 2 out of 6 on the essay portion of the Writing Test
  • Achieve a total scaled score on all 5 HiSET subtests of at least 45

It’s also important to note that you must score at least an 8 for the subtests and a 2 for the essay on the same test date. You cannot combine scores from multiple tests.
You will receive two types of score reports:

  • Comprehensive Score Report: This report is a cumulative record of all of your highest subtest scores (including the essay) indicating whether or not you passed the HiSET exam.
  • Individual Test Report: This report includes your score for an individual subtest and an explanation of what your score means.

It also indicates whether or not you demonstrate college and career readiness (at least 15 out of 20 on any of the subtests). To learn more about these reports, visit http://hiset.ets.org/scores/understand.