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If you’re one of the 10 percent of Americans, aged 25 years or older, who left high school prior to graduating, now is the time to pursue your high school diploma. Not possessing a high school diploma can decrease your job opportunities, thereby limiting your earnings potential. Earning a high school equivalency (HSE) credential will help you take charge of your future by opening the door for more job opportunities, and is the first step if you decide to pursue higher education.

Options for Earning a Diploma

In order to earn your high school equivalency certificate or diploma, you will need to pass one of three tests used to measure your skills:

  1. High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)
  2. General Education Development (GED)
  3. Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC)

Please note that while some states allow you to choose from all three tests, other states only offer one of these tests. Check with your state to determine which test options are available.

Eligibility Requirements 

Before you take the test, you will need to meet eligibility requirements which are determined by state and include the following:

  • Minimum age requirements  
  • Residency whereby you may be required to be a resident of the state in which you will be taking the test.
  • Test preparation or instruction may be required in an adult education classroom setting prior to taking the test. 
  • Practice tests may be required before taking the actual exam.
  • A government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, is usually required to take the test. 
  • The test center may request additional supplemental IDs, so it’s recommended to bring some with you on test day.  

What’s Covered on the Exams?

The exams essentially cover the same subjects with similar formats and time limits. Let’s take a look at what you can expect on each of the HSE exams:

Test Format Sections/Time
HiSET Multiple choice; essay prompt
  • Language Arts – Reading: 65 mins.
  • Language Arts – Writing: 120 mins.
  • Mathematics: 90 mins.
  • Science: 80 mins. 
  • Social Studies: 70 mins. 
GED Multiple choice; essay prompt
  • Mathematical Reasoning: 115 mins.
  • Reasoning Through Language Arts: 150 mins.
  • Science: 90 mins.
  • Social Studies: 70 mins.
TASC Multiple choice; essay prompt
  • Reading: 85 mins.
  • Writing: 110 mins. 
  • Mathematics: 105 mins.
  • Science: 75 mins.
  • Social Studies: 75 mins.


At Home Testing Options

While many test centers are closed due to COVID-19, at home testing is available for those interested in taking either the HiSET or GED exam. Online exams feature the same content and format as the test center experience, and will be monitored by a human proctor.

GED exam

Prior to taking the online GED exam, check to see if your state participates in the online GED test and for age requirements for online testing. Prior to scheduling an online test, you must score “green” on the GED Ready practice test within the last 60 days of the date of an online test. Visit the GED Testing Service website to register for the online GED exam.  

HiSET exam

The online HiSET exam is available seven days a week, from 4 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET. At home test takers must be 18 years of age or older and meet state requirements. Visit the ETS website to register for the online HiSET exam

Testing Tip: When taking an online test at home, make sure to perform a system test prior to the actual test to ensure your computer, internet connection, webcam, and speakers are working properly and meet online testing requirements.

Preparing for the Exam

Knowing the subject material, testing format, and time limitations for each section of the exam you’re going to take is crucial to passing the exam. Peterson’s offers practice tests to simulate the testing experience within a timed environment. Diagnostic tests assess your strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to focus only on the areas you need to study. Practice tests feature questions and content that are fully aligned with the updated exams, so you know what to expect on the actual exam, along with detailed explanations for every answer.

RELATED: How Can I Study for the GED While Juggling Kids and Work?

For more information, visit Peterson’s test prep to help prepare you for your high school equivalency exams.