Contributed by Sterling Davenport, Mt. San Jacinto College

Is the Difference Between the HiSET and GED?

the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) and the General Educational
Development (GED) exams are used to award a high school equivalency diploma,
but there are differences between the two.

HiSET has five test sections and the GED has four. Additionally, testing
centers for the GED only offer a computer version of the test, whereas the
HiSET has a paper and a computer option.

either exam is complete, the diploma equivalent is nationally recognized no
matter which test was taken.

Main difference

5-test HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) is offered in both a computer-based
and a paper-and-pencil format while the 4-test GED needs to be done entirely on
a computer in most states. New Jersey, for example, requires test takers to
take all available options in a computer-based format.

of passing the GED test and HiSET test

exams, when taken successfully, lead to your state’s HSE (high school
equivalency) diploma, a credential that qualifies you to attend credit-bearing
college courses and will surely bring about far better employment

you pass the HiSET or the GED test, your state will issue your high school
equivalency (HSE) diploma. This credential will lead to better employment
opportunities and open the doors of academic institutions of higher learning.

Can I Take the GED or HiSET?

20 states accept HiSET scores when awarding a high school equivalency diploma,
while around 40 states accept the GED. The states where you can take the GED or
HiSET are outlined below.


Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware,
Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada,
New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah,
Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming


Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas,

Is Harder, the GED or HiSET?

HiSET and GED both test individuals on their knowledge of math, science, social
studies and language arts. However, the HiSET has five subtests (one each for
reading and writing), while the GED uses four subtests. The GED combines reading
and writing into a single literacy test. If you have the option of taking
either the GED or HiSET, check out the test formatting to see which one would
suit you best.


70-minute HiSET social studies test covers history and political science. An
individual’s knowledge of such subjects as economics, sociology, and psychology
is also measured through multiple-choice questions.

GED social studies test is also 70 minutes long. The GED social studies exam
evaluates an individual’s knowledge of civics and government. Other subject
areas individuals are tested on include U.S. history and geography.


HiSET test determines how well test-takers understand scientific principles and
measures their ability to use a scientific approach to problem-solving.
Examinees’ knowledge of science content areas is also assessed. This test takes
80 minutes.

GED science test takes 90 minutes to complete. Much of the test focuses on
determining how well individuals can interpret science experiments and
scientific data. It also covers life, physical, and Earth science topics.


HiSET mathematics test takes 90 minutes and uses multiple-choice questions to
determine how well test-takers understand mathematics concepts. Individuals are
expected to solve problems involving measurement, estimation, arithmetic, and
algebra. They must also be able to interpret data.

GED mathematics test is 115 minutes. It focuses on quantitative and algebraic
problem solving and includes topics in geometry and functions.


HiSET Reading test takes 65 minutes and uses multiple-choice questions to
evaluate test-takers’ ability to understand information presented in written
form. The 120-minute HiSET Writing test examines test-takers’ ability to
correct text and write a well-organized essay. It includes multiple-choice
questions and an essay prompt.

GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test takes 150 minutes, 45 of which are
allotted for completing the essay assignment. This test assesses both the
reading and writing skills of test-takers. There are also tasks designed to
determine if examinees can correct writing errors.

Are the Costs of the GED vs HiSET?

Educational Testing Service administers the HiSET and charges a $10.75 fee per
computer-based subtest and $15 for the paper-based ones. Additional state fees
can vary.

Testing Service fee is $30, although some states charge different additional
amounts. For example, California adds a $5 fee per GED test.

Are Passing Scores for the HiSET vs GED?

state sets its own passing scores for the HiSET. In general, you must score no
less than 8 on each subtest. You are also required to have a total combined
score of no less than 45. The minimum accepted score on the writing test’s
essay section is 2 out of 6 points.

the GED requires a score of 145 on each subtest. To earn a diploma with a
College Ready designation you must score 165 or more. By scoring 175 or more,
you will receive a College Ready + Credit designation on your diploma.

Are the Retake Policies for the GED vs HiSET?

are limited to 3 attempts on the HiSET tests each calendar year. Examinees can
take GED tests as many times as necessary over the course of the year. A
discounted rate on the first two retakes of a test is available. Many states do
not impose a waiting period for the first two retakes. If you need to take the
test a fourth time, then you may have to wait 60 days and pay the full test
cost again.

and HiSET and the U.S. Military

local, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S. military, recognize and accept the diploma
that’s issued upon successful completion of the HiSET or GED exam as the
equivalent to a standard high school diploma.

agencies such as the Departments of Education, the Department of Labor, and Job
Corps recognize also the HiSET (simply short for High School Equivalency Test)
as a legitimate way to earn a U.S. high school equivalent degree. So get your
diploma and report to the armed forces!

and Employability

most jobs, even at the entry-level, require that you hold at least a high
school or equivalent diploma. Your state-issued HSE diploma will show an
employer that you master career- and college-readiness skills and knowledge at
a level similar to what they would expect of high school graduates.

your diploma demonstrates that you can function properly on the job, can grow
in your skills and knowledge, and are ready to participate in training

you apply for a job or file a college application, you may be asked if you hold
a GED. The fact of the matter is that a lot of employers are not aware that
there are more options available in America for adults to earn their high
school equivalency diploma.

HSE credential qualifies you for more education and training, so keep on
learning! Your HSE diploma is not an end station; it is the starting point for
a career change or your stepping stone for reaching higher academic goals.

diploma makes you eligible for college and university courses so there really
is nothing that can stop you from reaching the career goals that you’ve always
have been dreaming about. Isn’t it time you get your diploma if you meet the

a larger scale, there are also many advantages. Our nation’s economy depends on
a competitive and well-trained and skilled labor force. A competitive labor
force again is depending on people who will continually develop their knowledge
and skills.

by following industry-related training courses, attending continuing education
programs, and earning professional certificates, you will not only enhance your
personal, professional outlook, boost your earning potential, and make a better
and lasting impression on your employer or other employers, but you will serve
your nation as well as you contribute to a better workforce.

exams offer students another shot at acquiring a credential that is all across
North America recognized and accepted in the same way as a standard high school
diploma by government agencies, colleges, universities, recruiting
organizations, and employers.

you’ve managed to pass the five subtests of the HiSET exam or the
four GED modules, you have demonstrated that you have academic proficiency and
knowledge at the same level as a graduating high school senior. Your credential
or diploma (depending on what your state issues) qualifies you for continuing
your academic education in college or university. Isn’t that great?


HiSET ® / GED© Reference

(5 Subtests/Battery)
Both computer-delivered and paper-based testing

(4 Modules/Battery)
Computer-delivered testing only (except for accommodations)

Language Arts-Reading (65 minutes)

  • 50 multiple Choice Questions

Reasoning through
Language Arts (150 minutes)

(51 Questions)

  • Section 1 — (27 minutes*)
  • Section 2 — Extended Response (45 minutes)
  • Student Break (10 minutes)
  • Section 3 — (60 minutes)

*The time allotted for
Sections 1 and 3 may vary slightly, but the total test time will always be
150 minutes.

Arts-Writing (120 minutes)

  • 61 Questions
    • 60 multiple choice questions
    • 1 Essay

Mathematics (90

  • 55 Multiple Choice Questions

Calculator: TI-30XS
scientific calculator

Reasoning (115 minutes)

(46 Questions)

  • Part 1 (first 5 questions) calculator not
  • Part 2 (remaining 41 questions) calculator
  • Possible Item Types:
    • Multiple choice
    • Drag-and-drop
    • Hot spot
    • Fill in the blank

Calculator: TI-30XS
scientific calculator

Science (80 minutes)

  • 60 multiple choice questions

Calculator: TI-30XS
scientific calculator

Science (90 minutes)
(34 Questions)

  • Possible Item Types:
    • Multiple choice
    • Short answer
    • Drag-and-drop
    • Hot spot
    • Fill in the blank

Calculator: TI-30XS
scientific calculator

Social Studies (70

  • 60 Multiple Choice Questions

Social Studies (70

(35 questions)

  • Possible Item Types:
    • Multiple choice
    • Drag-and-drop
    • Hot spot
    • Fill in the blank

Calculator: TI-30XS
scientific calculator

scaled-score range per subtest: 0–20
To pass: no subtest score lower than 8 and a battery total of 45 or above.

scaled-score range per module: 100–200
To pass: a score on each module of 145 or above.

For more detailed
information on the content and structure of the HiSET ®, go to HiSET ®Test
at a Glance (TAAG) Information Brief — 2019

For more detailed
information on the content and structure of the GED© test, go to GED®:
Get Your GED

Fee Structure:
Computer Based Test:

  • $103.75/battery ($24.75 for the 1st subtest,
    $19.75 for the remaining 4 subtests in the initial battery)
  • $9/retest (up to two per subtest, within one
    year of initial test)
  • $10.75/subtest (after one year from initial

Paper Based Test:

  • $125/ battery
    ($29 for the 1st subtest, $24 for the remaining 4 subtests in the
    initial battery)
  • $9/retest (up to two per subtest, within one
    year of initial test)
  • $15/subtest (after one year from initial test)

Fee Structure:

  • $125/battery ($31.25/module)
  • $10/retest (up to two per module, within one
    year of initial test)
  • $31.25/retest (after one year from initial