HiSET Essay Topics

Last Updated on May 15, 2024.

The HiSET exam (HiSET is simply short for “High School Equivalency Test”) is one of two high school equivalency (HSE) exams that states can use in the U.S.

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The high school equivalency test offers adults who never graduated from high school one more shot at earning an equivalent degree that’s accepted across North America in lieu of a common high school credential.

In this post, we look a little deeper into one specific section of the HiSET English Writing subtest where you have to write a 5- or 6-paragraph essay and what types of prompts you’ll see in that section.

The HiSET exam comes with five individual and independent modules (subject tests) that assess your knowledge in the academic areas of

  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Language Writing
  • Language Reading
  • Math

So even if you quit high school prematurely, there’s still a path available to get hold of a secondary education degree.

The diploma that’s awarded when you’ve completed the five HiSET modules qualifies you for better jobs or to continue your education in university or college.

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The HiSET exam was introduced a few years back as a more affordable alternative to the GED test.

GED testing is only possible in a fully computerized format, whereas the HiSET can be taken on a computer or in a paper-based format.

If you attain sufficient scores on all five HiSET subtests, you will receive your state’s High School Equivalency (HSE) Diploma or Certificate. Some states issue certificates and some issue diplomas.

So if you hold your state’s HSE credential, you can move on to pursue a higher education degree or advance toward whichever career goals you have.

The HiSET Writing test

Whatever career field you choose, most likely, you’ll be required to master some level of competent writing abilities.

Writing is one of the main ways in which we communicate thoughts, ideas, and information. Check here for an overview of states that are using the HiSET and what it costs by state.

Communication, and so also writing, is a skill that requires training and development as it is a task you’ll need to utilize for just about every job. You must be able to write clearly and correctly to effectively interact and communicate with people around you.

On the HiSET Writing test, you first will have to deal with 50 multiple-choice questions. Then, you will have to write an essay, and you are given 50 minutes to do so.

Check here for this website’s free HiSET practice tests. They are great to start your GED or HiSET prep, but for full coverage, register with Onsego GED Prep, a full-scope program that GED Testing Service has given the predicate “Fully GED Test Aligned.”

HiSET Essay Prompt

When you are ready to start with this section, you’ll receive a prompt, usually based on two reading passages. You are asked to carefully read these passages, analyze the contents, and discuss the issue in line with the parameters that are given in the prompt.

You must use the information provided in the passages and use arguments, evidence, and supporting details from the tests, and come up with and defend your point of view.

The purpose of writing an essay is to measure to what extent you are capable of composing an argument and backing up your perspective in a piece writing, your essay. You can take the HiSET exam online or at state-designated test centers. Check here for a full list of HiSET test centers across the U.S.

For the HiSET essay section, you may see a number of different question types. One possibility, as said earlier, is that you’ll receive two passages written by authors who have differing opinions on a specific topic.

You’ll have to carefully read the two passages and learn all about the weaknesses and strengths expressed in both passages. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have to write your essay in which you need to express your opinion about that topic. For more information on taking the HiSET-At-Home exam, check out this article.

When you’re given this type of prompt, you’ll have to determine your position and explain your point of view on the topic. You must use examples and reasons from the passages, and you can also add your own experiences to support your standpoint.

Supporting Details

You must use evidence and supporting details provided in the passages to defend and support your position. You should also mention or refer to various arguments of individuals who have opposing views.

Sometimes, you’ll receive a different type of prompt where you’re given a quote or statement on a certain topic. You’ll be asked to explain to what extent you disagree or agree with that quote or statement.

In that case, you’ll first have to determine what the statement or quote exactly says about the issue at hand. So, careful reading is vital to understand what the author is trying to convey.

Once you understand the topic and the statement thoroughly, you need to determine whether and to what extent you disagree or agree with the author’s idea and why that is so.

Also here, you must use specific reasoning and supporting details from the passage, and you can also add your personal experiences and examples to support your standpoint. Then, you can start thinking about writing your HiSET essay.

HiSET Scores

The five HiSET subject tests are graded on a scale that runs from 1 to 20. The HiSET passing score on each of the HiSET subtests is 8, and across the board, your score must be no less than 45. Check also here for the HiSET score chart.

This means that even if your overall score is (far) above 45 but on one subject test you haven’t reached the 8-mark, you did not pass the HiSET exam.

So to pass the HiSET exam, your cumulative score (the sum of all your subtest scores) must be 45 or better. On top of that, you must reach a score of 2 (out of 6) on your HiSET essay.

So, if you don’t attain a 2-score on your essay, or if your score on one subtest is less than 8, you won’t pass the HiSET exam, even if your total score is better than 45!

Keep in mind that HiSET and GED scores cannot be used together. If you start working toward your HSE diploma, you need to complete the exam you started with or start all over with the alternative option.