High School Equivalency-Beginner’s Guide

In America, adults who dropped out of high school have another interesting way to earn a secondary education degree. They can earn a high school equivalency (HSE) credential.

This means that they can take an exam to demonstrate that they master knowledge and skills at a level comparable to that of high school graduates.

Doing so will help them create better employment options and the HSE diploma, just like a common HS diploma, also allows for a college education.

Institutions of higher education, government organizations, and employers recognize and accept the American HSE diploma in the same way as a regular high school degree.

3 High School Equivalency Exams

There are three HSE exams in the U.S., the GED (General Education Development), TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion), and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) exams.

Once students have successfully completed one of these three exams, their states or jurisdictions will issue their high school equivalency diplomas or certificates.

The GED exam is a computer-adaptive diagnostic test that contains four modules (independent subtests) that cover the academic subject areas of Math, Language, Science, and Social Studies.

The HiSET and TASC exams are available on paper and on a computer. These options also measure skills and knowledge at the HS graduation level and contain five modules as writing and reading are separate sections.

Most states still use the GED for their HSE programs but a number of states made the switch to one of the other tests. More and more states, however, offer multiple options and let students decide which HSE exam they want to take.

All three HSE exams are guarding who qualifies for the tests. The qualification rules are pretty strict and relate to a student’s level of education, age, and residency. In general, applicants need to be at least 16 years old, officially withdrawn from their school and have permission from a parent or guardian. For all three options counts, however, that taking practice tests will increase a student’s chances of success!

Official Organizations Behind HSE Diplomas

The GED exam is created by The American Council of Education (ACE) in cooperation with PearsonVUE, a major publisher of educational resources. The GED, HiSET, and TASC are state-specific exams and qualification requirements vary slightly by individual states. Check out also this website’s free online video lesson program, a great way to get optimally prepared efficiently.

The HiSET exam is developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS), a nonprofit organization that promotes equity and quality in education for all. ETS provides innovative solutions to improve learning and teaching and expand educational opportunities.

The TASC exam is created by Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), a recognized developer of tests of academic performance such as the TABE (Tests of Adult Basic Education). DRC works with experienced adult educators and high school teachers for developing the TASC test.

Who Qualifies for HSE Testing?

The three American High School Equivalency exams are geared toward all adults who, for one reason or another, were not in the position to finish their regular high school curriculum.

Applicants cannot already have a secondary degree (high school or equivalent diploma) or be registered for some other school program. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just dropped out of high school or that it has been many years since you quit school. The HSE exam is for everyone who doesn’t hold a high school diploma.

Requirements vary by state but in general, applicants must be 16 years of age or older. Test-takers are considered “underage” when they are 16 or 17 years old (in most states) and for these students, extra requirements apply. For the situation in your state, check out this post.

Residency Requirements

There are states that subsidize HSE testing (GED, TASC and/or HiSET). In general, these states allow testing only for state residents. Most states that do not subsidize HSE testing are not requiring test-takers to be state residents. For the situation in your state, check out this page.

States that require test-takers to be residents are Wisconsin, West Virginia, Washington, Texas, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Montana, Missouri, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Delaware, DC, Connecticut, California, and Arkansas.

High School Equivalency Classes and Practice Tests

The three HSE exams are rigorous tests. All three options assess knowledge and skills at a level that compares to that of graduating high school seniors. Preparation is key and taking practice tests will help you identify your strong and weak points so you can use your study time efficiently by focusing on those areas that need it most.

There are states that require test-takers to pass an official pretest before they are allowed to sign up for the official test. Most states, however, do not require students to do so.

Illinois, Arizona, and North Dakota require students to also pass a Constitution or Civics exam if they want to earn their HSE diplomas.

The states that require test-takers to first pass a pretest or sign up for a prep program are West Virginia, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Missouri, Maine, Louisiana, Kentucky, Iowa, Hawaii, Delaware, DC, and Arkansas.

Last Updated on