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What you need to know about the HiSET Test
The HiSET® test was created as in 2014 by ETS and is one of two major tests of high school equivalency that are used in the United States. The other test, the General Education Development (GED) exam, has been around since World War II. A third test, the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), was previously given but was discontinued at the end of 2021.
States vary in which tests they offer and will accept for certification purposes. You can see where your state stands below. If your state is not listed, they may not currently offer the HiSET, but be sure to check the official HiSET website for the most accurate information.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
The HiSET® test consists of five subtests, with the listed number of questions and allowed time:
|Language Arts: Reading
|50 multiple choice
|Language Arts: Writing
|60 multiple choice
|55 multiple choice
|60 multiple choice
|60 multiple choice
The test comes in paper/pencil and computer versions and is offered in both English and Spanish in most areas. There is no penalty for incorrect answers on this test, so it is in your best interests to attempt an answer for every question.
Answers to all your questions about the HiSET Test
Table of Contents
What are the costs?
The basic fee for each of the five subtests varies by state. Some testing centers and employers are willing to cover costs, so be sure to check with your state to see if assistance is possible.
What should I bring?
You will need to take a valid photo ID, along with a copy of your appointment confirmation. Supplemental identification, such as a student ID card, are also recommend for additional identity verification. Most likely, you’ll need to pay for the test when you schedule it, so it won’t be necessary to bring payment with you. Paper, pencils, and a calculator will be furnished, but check with your testing center to be sure nothing else is required. Cell phones, smart watches, and food are not allowed in the testing area.
How is it scored?
All scores are available online and are not sent through the mail. If you take the computer version of the HiSET test, you will receive unofficial scores for all tests except the writing essay at the conclusion of the testing session and an official score report will be available online in 3 to 5 business days. For the paper version, accessing these scores takes 5 business days and up to 10 business days, respectively.
HiSET issues what it calls a Comprehensive Score Report. This report shows only the highest score you have achieved on each test. Your report will also show other scores on the tests you have taken in their Individual Test Report.
To pass the HiSET test, you must obtain a score of 8 out of 20 on each subtest, 2 out of 6 on the writing essay, and a total scaled score of 45 out of 100 on all five subtests. Certain states may have additional or different passing requirements.
What kind of job can I get?
The possession of a high school diploma, or its equivalency, is required for many jobs today. In fact, some employers will even pay for equivalency testing for their employees who do not have a diploma. Employers may require a diploma or equivalency just to employ an individual or to clear that person for additional training. Having at least high school level skills is the basis for employment and advancement in many industries.
Am I eligible?
The states that administer the HiSET test have varying requirements for administration. Some may have an age requirement or may ask you to prove you are not in school. Others stipulate that you successfully complete an adult education course before you take the HiSET, so it’s best to check your state’s requirements before registering for the test. You may take any subtest up to three times in a calendar year.
Why does it matter?
Passing some sort of high school equivalency test is often the key to your future in education and in the job market. Many times, it opens the door to both pathways in your future. You often need to prove to employers and institutions that you are ready for that next step, either a job or continued learning.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27% of jobs in the current market do not require a high school diploma or equivalency, while 39% more are available to candidates with those qualifications. Add a total of another 29% if you have some college, an associate’s degree, a post-secondary nondegree award, or a college bachelor’s degree (usually 4 years post-high school. Since your ticket to post-high school study is that high school diploma or equivalent, you can bump your job options up by 39%–68% by getting it.
What salary can I expect?
Salary averages also rise with your level of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary in the U.S. for a person in an occupation not requiring a high school diploma or equivalent is around $20,000. Contrast this with salaries for high school grads and equivalency holders, which average $35,000 or more. Add an associate’s degree and you could earn $58,000 a year. A bachelor’s degree could mean a $68,000+ annual salary.
When is it available?
The HiSET® test is administered in a variety of locations across the U.S. in states that accept the test as proof of high school equivalency level skills. Before you attempt to take the HiSET, it’s helpful to enroll in an adult education course and double check there is a testing center in your area. Testing at home with a proctor may also be an option in select locations.
How much time is allowed?
The entire HiSET® test takes about 7 hours to complete, but you don’t have to do it all in 1 day. You may schedule each of the five subtests as you wish. Here are the approximate times each requires:
- Language Arts—Reading: 65 minutes
- Language Arts—Writing: 120 minutes
- Mathematics: 90 minutes
- Science: 80 minutes
- Social Studies: 70 minutes
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