High School Equivalency (HSE) tests are the alternative solution for people who didn’t finish their high school education. There are 3 HSE tests: GED, HiSET and TASC and all these exams assess knowledge and skills at a level that compares to that of high school graduates.
The HiSET and TASC are relatively new tests (introduced in 2014) whereas the GED Test was created in 1942 and was taken by more than 20 million people in 77 years. Although the GED exam remains the most popular HSE test, the HiSET exam is being recognized as perhaps the least challenging of the three HSE tests.
There are 23 states that offer students the possibility of taking the HiSET test. If you are interested in preparing for this exam, check our free HiSET practice tests.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these HSE exams.
The HiSET Exam
The HiSET (short for “High School Equivalency Test”) has been available since early 2014. This HSE exam, like the other options, covers academic fields that are taught in high school. The minimally required age for this exam is also usually 16 though for applicants 16 and 17 years old, specific requirements apply.
The HiSET exam has five testing fields: Language Reading, Language Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science. All five subtests include multiple-choice questions or require essay-style answers. The subtests may also be taken separately and will take between 65 and 120 minutes each for completion.
On the HiSET exam, test-takers need to reach an overall score of at least 45 out of a possible 100. Students must attain at least an 8-score (out of 20) on each of the 5 subtests and their essay score cannot be under a two (out of a possible six).
Except for the essay part, the HiSET contains only multiple-choice questions. Many answer options are including negative words like “least” or “except” so test-takers will be prompted to identify which answer is incorrect. When you study to get used to multiple-choice questions, be sure you can distinguish between “good answers” and “the best answers”.
The TASC Exam
The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) was also introduced in 2014 as one more alternative to the GED exam. Here as well, applicants need to be at least 16 years of age though for underage students (16 and 17) strict extra requirements apply.
The TASC exam includes five subtests in the academic fields of Mathematics, English Writing, English Reading, Social Studies, and Science. The subtests require from 50 to 110 minutes each to complete. The TASC passing score on each subtest is 500 (out of 800) and the essay score needs to be no less than two out of eight.
All three HSE options (GED, HiSET, and TASC) are rigorous tests but the TASC is considered to include the most challenging Math section so get optimally prepared! Using a calculator is allowed only on one part of the test so understanding math testing both in pencil-and-paper and computer testing is key, depending on what format you take the TASC exam.
The GED Exam
The General Educational Development exam is the most widely-used and best-known HSE test. The cost varies by state, but in general, the cost is around $120 for the entire battery of four individual subtests though, in some states, the cost is considerably higher.
The GED comes with four separate subtests in the academic fields of Reasoning through Language Arts, Science, Mathematical Reasoning, and Social Studies. The subtests take between 70 and 150 minutes to complete. Test-takers must, on each section, attain a 145 score on a scale that runs from 100 to 200.
Some states require state residency and test-takers need to be at least 16 years of age and not hold a high school degree or be signed up for another educational program. For 16- and 17-year olds, additional requirements apply. All these requirements also apply to the HiSET and TASC. As said earlier, the GED is available only in a computer-based format.
GED testing includes various types of questions such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drop-and-drag, short answer, and students must also write an essay (extended response).
Most states administer the GED exam. The following states, however, do NOT USE the GED test: Indiana (TASC); Iowa (HiSET); Louisiana (HiSET); Maine (HiSET); Missouri (HiSET); Montana (HiSET); New Hampshire (HiSET); New York (TASC); Tennessee (HiSET); West Virginia (TASC).
Value of High School Equivalency exams
If you don’t have a high school diploma, finding a reasonably-paying job will be hard. Today, practically all entry-level positions require at least a high school or equivalent degree.
Persons with a secondary education degree will make at least $9,500 more annually than individuals who don’t hold the credential.
If you want to enroll in college courses or attend some other form of postsecondary education, holding a high school or equivalent diploma is required and lacking the degree puts limits on your earnings potential.
In the United States, we can find still some 30 million adults who never finished high school but they still have a chance to advance their academic education and work toward a rewarding career by earning a high school equivalency diploma.
Estimates are that more than 40 percent of adults who earn their GED (General Educational Development) diploma continue their education in some sort of postsecondary education program which will guide them toward higher earnings and better career options.
On this page, we’ll take a look at the most common high school equivalency (HSE) options and give you a few tips on how to decide which of the options is available in your state and your best option.
Why Does it Matter
Holding a high school diploma is a prerequisite for practically all professional positions and postsecondary educational options. For most jobs, you must at least hold a high school diploma and if you want to enroll in college, the credential is required as well.
The fact of the matter is, though, that not everyone was in the position to finish their regular high school education and high school equivalency (HDSE) tests are bridging that gap and offer adults without a common HS diploma one more shot at securing a credential that’s accepted in lieu of a high school diploma.
High school equivalency tests measure students’ skills and knowledge at a level that is comparable to that of graduating high school seniors. Most HSE tests are available in English and Spanish and occasionally as well in French and Braille.
For some seven decades, the GED exam was the only available HSE exam in North America but that changed in 2014. In that year, two alternative options were introduced, the HiSET and TASC exams, giving students more opportunities to demonstrate their skills and knowledge level.
How to Prepare for the HSE Tests
Here is the perfect scenario:
- You book 45-60 minutes for your test prep.
- During the learning time, you watch 3 short video lessons.
- To make sure you understand these lessons, take the mini-quiz that comes with each lesson.
- After 5-10 lessons you take a longer practice test to assess your knowledge.
- If you have time to focus on your learning, learn daily. If not, try to learn 3 times a week.
- Take regular breaks.
Don’t simply watch hours of video lessons without taking practice test questions. You will quickly forget what you’ve learned unless you take practice test questions to back up those concepts. For instance, when you’ve watched the Climate video lessons, make sure you complete the quiz that accompanies that module.
The fact of the matter is that quite a few high school or college dropouts are having a hard time to secure a decent job nowadays. Unemployment figures are showing that over 15 percent of all unemployed persons do not have a high school or equivalent diploma while, at the same time, just under 5 percent of all college grad was not able to find a suitable job.
The HSE exam is a set of four subject tests that, when taken successfully, certify that the holder has academic skills and knowledge at the level of a high school graduate. The HSE is for people who are not any longer at the appropriate age for enrolling in high school.