HiSET Test Overview

92548859-ged6The High School Equivalency Test, known by the acronym HiSET, is intended to measure whether a student has the academic skills that are equivalent to a typical high school graduate.  The HiSET exam is an alternative to the GED test.  Passing the HiSET exam will allow students to receive a high school equivalency credential that is issued by their state.

Students will typically take the HiSET exam in order to attend a college or attain a specific job that requires a high school diploma or equivalent.  The HiSET exam has been designed to align with the Common Core State Standards in Language Arts and Math.

HiSET Test Format – What’s on the HiSET

To see examples of typical questions on the HiSET exam, see our free HiSET practice exams.

The HiSET exam is composed of 5 subtests:

  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
These tests are designed to assess a student's understanding of these topics and measure compared to a traditional high school student.  The HiSET test consists of 240 multiple choice questions and one essay.

The subtests have varying number of questions and time limits as detailed in the table below.

HiSET Subtest Questions Time Summary
Language Arts – Reading 40 multiple choice questions 65 minutes The HiSET Language Arts – Reading subtest is intended to assess a student’s ability to understand, interpret, and analyze various reading passages.  The reading passages are typically 400 to 600 words long.  Approximately 60% of the passages will be literary content with the remaining 40% being informational content.  The passages can be poetry, biographies, editorials, essays or memoirs.
Language Arts – Writing

Part 1:  50 multiple choice questions

Part 2: 1 Essay

Part 1: 75 minutes

Part 2: 45 minutes

Part 1:  Students are asked to choose correct revisions to underlined sections of passages.  Choosing the correct revision will assess a candidate’s understanding of mechanics, usage, sentence structure, and organization.

Part 2: Student’s will be given a writing prompt and must compose an essay.  The essay will be measured on organization, development of the theme, writing conventions and language usage.

HiSET Math 50 multiple choice questions 90 minutes The HiSET math subtest is intended to measure a student’s comprehension of core mathematical knowledge and competencies, such as solving problems using fundamental concepts and reasoning skills.  The areas that will be tested include: number operations; geometry and measurement; probability, statistics, and data analysis; algebraic concepts.  Students are allowed to use a calculator.
HiSET Science 50 multiple choice questions 80 minutes The HiSET Science subtest measures a student’s skill in understanding, interpreting and applying scientific concepts.  Basic scientific content will be presented from the life, physical and earth science categories.  Specifically, students may be presented with scientific information related to: astronomy, health, botany, physics, chemistry and zoology.  Students will be presented with scientific situations, including graphs, charts and tables, and asked to recognize conclusions, select the best design, or identify the research question.
HiSET Social Studies 50 multiple choice questions 70 minutes The HiSET Social Studies subtest will assess a student’s ability to interpret information related to: economics, geography, sociology, psychology, political science and history.  Students will be presented with reading passages, cartoons, posters, timelines, maps, graphs and charts.  Students will be expected to distinguish facts from opinions, evaluate the reliability of sources, determine the validity of inferences and conclusions, and assess the adequacy of information for drawing conclusions.

HiSET Requirements

Most students taking the HiSET will be older than 16 years of age and will not have attained a high school diploma.  The HiSET is currently offered in 12 states/jurisdictions in the U.S.:

  • California - Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Tennessee
  • Wyoming

Each state will have its own requirements with respect to age, residency, and required coursework.  In addition, each state will specify their own HiSET exam fees and retest rules.

HiSET Scores

HiSET scores are available (posted in your account) approximately 3 to 5 business days after your test.  The essay scores are available approximately 6 to 10 days after submitting the essay.

To pass the HiSET exam, a student must meet the following criteria

  • A minimum score of 8 (out of 20) on each of the 5 subtests
  • A minimum score of 2 (out of 6) on the essay
  • A minimum total scaled score of 45 (out of 100) on all five HiSET subtests.

hiset score report

Source: ETS HiSET Website