GED vs HiSET- What is Easier to Pass?

Let’s take a look at why you should take the GED or the HiSET exam, and which of the exams is considered “easier”. Well, you should do so to achieve better employment options or to get a college education.

The HiSET and GED exams are for adults who were not in the position to complete their regular high school curriculum.

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Both the HiSET® and the GED® are pretty challenging exams. The passing standards are at such a level that some forty percent of high school grads would not be able to pass the tests on the first attempt!


Many states still use the GED (General Education Development) issued by GED Testing Service, a joint venture of the non-profit American Council on Education (ACE) and for-profit publisher PearsonVUE.

The GED is still the most popular and widely used High School Equivalency (HSE) test in America.

However, many states have opted for the HiSET exam created by non-profit ETS (Educational Testing Services), America’s largest developer of educational assessment systems.

Let’s take a look at this comparison table with some key differences between the GED and HiSET tests.


HiSET test

GED test

Paper-based and computer-based format Only computer-based format
5 Subjects 4 Subjects
Language: in English or Spanish Language: in English or Spanish
Fee: around $55-$95 for all subjects in most states Fee: around $120 for all subjects in most states
Passing score: 8 out of 20 on each of the five subtests, 45 overall Passing score: 145/200 on each of the four subtests

The main difference

The 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.

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There are exceptions, however. New Jersey, for example, requires test-takers to take all available options in a computer-based format.

Results of passing the GED test and HiSET test

Both 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 opportunities.

HiSET scoring occurs on a scale that runs to 20. The passing score on EACH of the five independent subtests is 8 and your total score (for five tests) must be at least 45 while your essay must have at least a 2-score.

Every state except New York, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, and Tennessee offers the GED test as a high school equivalency testing option. For details about each state, requirements check this page.

Which states offer the HiSET?

The states listed below offer the HiSET high school equivalency exam. Adults who did not complete their high school education can use the high school equivalency test to earn a credential that compares to a standard high school degree and check here to learn more about the cost of HiSET testing in every state.

The HiSET is offered both in a computer-based model and in a paper-and-pencil format except in New Jersey where all tests are administered on a computer.

Be aware, though, that in states where multiple options are available, not all testing centers administer the HiSET so get adequately informed to avoid disappointment. Here is an overview of states that use the HiSET exam. See also this post with HiSET test centers by state.

GED and HiSET requirements

States have the liberty to set their own qualification standards and criteria. In general, though, we see that in most states, the minimally required age for testing is 18 for both the GED and HiSET tests and scoring standards are the same in all GED using states as well.

Students can’t be currently enrolled in high school, and they haven’t graduated from high school.

Under-age students (16 & 17 years of age) may qualify if they are officially withdrawn from high school, have parental consent, and meet more strict requirements.

HiSET vs GED, which is easier to pass?

Now, is there a way to determine which test, the HiSET or the GED, is easier to pass? Which questions are easier? Well, there is no straightforward answer possible to this question. All persons are different, and what one individual may consider difficult may be less challenging to another and vice versa.

So now you have more than one option to get your HSE diploma. Just make sure you command all areas and sign up for the test!

Students used to online study and test methods may feel comfortable with the GED (which is only offered in a computer-based model) or the computerized HiSET format while those not so familiar with digital testing methods will be happier to take the HiSET which is still offered in a paper-and-pencil formatted way in most states.

Many students feel that the math portion of the HiSET exam is somewhat less challenging than the GED math portion.

In general, the HiSET and the GED are similar tests, and online practice tests are useful for both exams.

Both the GED test and the HiSET exam had to be taken at a state-approved test center but recently, there were also online versions of the exams introduced. For online GED testing, check out this post, and for HiSET online testing, visit this page. The tests are offered in both English and Spanish at many test centers.

How to pass the GED test

This website is solely focused on helping students prepare and pass the GED test but students preparing for an alternative HSE (high school equivalency) test can benefit as well. We offer free GED online prep classes and GED practice tests.

These lessons and practice tests explain how to prepare for each GED subtest and what to expect on each subtest. All our resources are free. Check these pages for more details:

How to pass the HiSET test

Preparing for the HiSET test is similar to the GED test prep; however, there are a few differences, so we explain below in detail how every subtest is structured.

HiSET Literacy Reading

The section Literacy (Language Arts) Reading takes 65 minutes. This subtest is made up of multiple-choice questions that are measuring a student’s skill for understanding, interpreting, and analyzing a wide range of informational and literary texts.

These texts may have a length of between 4 hundred and six hundred words.

HiSET Literacy Writing

The section Literacy (Language Arts) Writing is 120 minutes and includes multiple-choice questions and an essay prompt. This part is measuring a student’s ability to recognize and produce standard American written English and consists of two parts.

Part one consists of multiple-choice questions that measure a student’s skill for editing and revising written texts. Getting familiar with the specific GED/HiSET vocabulary is key as that will allow you to understand the questions better and faster so you’ll have more time for answering the questions correctly.

The essay part will measure a student’s understanding of generating and organizing specific ideas in good English writing. Online practice tests are great to get all set fast, both for the GED and the HiSET as the contents are similar, so you’re welcome to use our free services. Click here to learn more about writing your HiSET essay.

HiSET Mathematics

The Math portion of the HiSET exam is 90 minutes and measures a student’s mathematical skills and knowledge through multiple-choice questions. The Math questions will also include practice problems and cases that need to be solved by measurement, numerical operations, logical reasoning, data interpretation, and estimation.

Some of the questions are assessing a test taker’s ability to deal with abstract concepts, including probability and algebraic patterns. On the HiSET Math portion, the use of a calculator is allowed, and complicated formulas will be provided on test day.

HiSET Science

The HiSET Science test is 80 minutes long and consists of multiple-choice questions that measure a student’s knowledge of scientific concepts, the skills to use and apply science content, and the principles of scientific research and inquiry and if an applicant understands how to interpret and evaluate all sorts of scientific information.

In the HiSET Science portion, tables, graphs, and charts will be used for the presentation of information and results.

HiSET Social Studies

The HiSET Social Studies section is 70 minutes and made up of multiple-choice questions that measure a student’s skills of analyzing and evaluating information from various content fields as geography, political science, history, psychology, economics, sociology, and anthropology.

This part comes with maps, charts, graphs, posters, timelines, cartoons, reading passages, and other primary documents to measure an applicant’s knowledge of the related academic fields. See also this post about the National External Diploma Program that offers youth and adults another option to earn a high school equivalency diploma in several states, including the State of New York.

After getting your diploma

Your HSE credential is your ticket to a college education! In case you took an adult education prep course through your local community college, it will get pretty easy for you to continue your academic education at that college because you qualify for credit-bearing programs and courses.

If you’re thinking about joining the armed forces, keep in mind that all branches of the army prefer high school diploma holders over GED graduates. So in that case, you still might want to get a high school degree after you’ve earned your GED!

When you want to go to another school, please note that the HSE (high school equivalency) diploma is recognized nationally and accepted across the nation by practically all institutions of higher education, not just in the state where you earned your diploma!

GED and HiSET and the U.S. Military

All 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. However, as stated before, the military prefers high school grads over people with the GED Diploma.

Federal agencies such as the Departments of Education, the Department of Labor, and the 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!

Employers and employability

Today, 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.

So 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 courses. For a comparison between the GED and TASC exams, go to this post. 

When 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 diplomas.

There are three options for states to use, the GED (General Education Development), the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion), and the HiSET (short for simply High School Equivalency Test). All three exams lead to the U.S. High School Equivalency Credential.

The HiSET, like the GED, gives a student who never finished high school the opportunity to earn a state-issued HSE (high school equivalency) diploma.

The GED is a fully computerized four-test exam while the five-test HiSET, like the earlier GED edition, is offered both in a paper-based version and in a computerized format (in most states). All three exams, when taken successfully, will result in the official state-issued and nationally recognized and accepted “Equivalent of a U.S. High School Diploma.”

HiSET, GED, and higher education

Your 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.

Your 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 been dreaming about. Isn’t it time you get your diploma if you meet the requirements?

On 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.

So 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.

These 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.

If 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?

Last Updated on October 4, 2021.