HiSET Test

Everything you need to know to ace the test.

The High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) is a way for people who didn’t finish high school to earn a diploma and get on track for college or a career.

This page will cover the HiSET exam, what information the examination covers, the number and type of questions you can expect, the score you need to pass, and everything you need to register for the assessment.

What is the HiSET?

The HiSET (otherwise known as the ETS High School Equivalency Test) is a standardized test released in the year 2014. It was created by the ITP (Iowa Testing Programs) and ETS (Educational Testing Service).

The HiSET originally spawned as a response to the GED. When the GED’s newest edition released, questions subsequently arose as to how helpful it would be to its target demographic. The HiSET was created alongside another test, the TASC, as a substitute for the GED. Like the GED, the HiSET is meant to help people who failed to graduate from high school and would like to earn their diploma. The HiSET is formatted to evaluate your readiness for a professional or academic environment and tell you where you excel and where you still need to improve.

Benefits to Taking the HiSET

There are some benefits to taking the HiSET as opposed to other similar exams like the GED:

  • More Flexible. The HiSET exam is offered in English or Spanish and can be taken on a computer at home with live online proctoring or in a physical testing facility. There is also a paper-based option available for people who require accommodations. For test takers with special needs related to their health or disabilities, the program provides additional accommodations.
  • More Accessible. You may take the HiSET examination at any of your state’s or jurisdiction’s existing test centers or at home via the Internet. Test takers are free to select the testing method that best suits their needs.
  • More Affordable. The HiSET costs less than other tests, and you can take it twice within a year of when you bought the first sub-test.

HiSET Exam Eligibility

Each state has their own specific rules and requirements, so check with your state for details. Regardless of which state you take the exam in, only individuals who are at least 16 years old are eligible to take the HiSET exam, and you must have a state-approved adult education program enrollment and test authorization.

These are the states and jurisdictions that currently offer the HiSET:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming
  • American Samoa
  • Marshall Islands
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palau

What’s on the HiSET?

The test contains a total of 285 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. These questions are split into five sections, and you must pass all five sections to pass the HiSET. You don’t have to take each section of the test all at once or in any particular order.

1. Language Arts – Reading (50 questions)

This section measures your ability to understand, comprehend, interpret, and analyze a variety of reading material. The questions in this section are split into two categories:

  1. Literary Texts (40%)
  2. Informational Texts (60%)

You will be given 65 minutes to finish the English version of this section, or you will be given 80 minutes to finish the Spanish version.

2. Language Arts – Writing (61 questions)

This section measures your ability to edit and revise written text and to generate and organize ideas in writing. The questions in this section are all multiple-choice with the exception of one essay question. The multiple-choice questions are split into three categories:

  1. Organization of Ideas (22%)
  2. Language Facility (43%)
  3. Writing Conventions (35%)

The essay question will cover the same categories as the multiple-choice questions and will also assess your ability to develop a central position or claim.

You will be given 2 hours to finish this section.

3. Mathematics (55 questions)

This section assesses your ability to solve quantitative problems using fundamental concepts and reasoning skills. The questions in this section are split into four categories:

  1. Numbers and Operations (19%)
  2. Measurement/Geometry (18%)
  3. Data Analysis, Probability, and Statistics (18%)
  4. Algebraic Concepts (45%)

You will be given 1.5 hours to finish this section.

4. Science (60 questions)

This section measures your ability to use science content knowledge, apply principles of scientific inquiry, and interpret and evaluate scientific information. The questions in this section are split into three categories:

  1. Life Science (49%)
  2. Physical Science (28%)
  3. Earth Science (23%)

You will be given 80 minutes to finish this section.

5. Social Studies (60 questions)

This section measures your ability to analyze and evaluate various kinds of social studies information. The questions in this section are split into four categories:

  1. History (35%)
  2. Civics/Government (35%)
  3. Economics (20%)
  4. Geography (10%)

You will be given 70 minutes to finish this section.

exam outline for the HiSET, which contains 285 multiple-choice questions and one essay question

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HiSET Exam Registration

Before you make an appointment to take the HiSET test, check to see if it is offered in your state or jurisdiction. Some states or jurisdictions require that you take a test preparation course, be a resident of that state or jurisdiction, or meet certain age requirements. State and jurisdiction-specific fees and retesting regulations may differ.

Once you have confirmed that you are able to take the test, the next step is to register for a My HiSET account, which will give you quick and simple access to all your HiSET test information. This account allows you to:

  • Schedule and pay for each sub-test
  • View your appointment confirmation
  • Reschedule or cancel a test
  • View your account history
  • View your scores
  • Update your profile information

It is essential that you register using your first and last names exactly as they appear on the form of identification you bring to the test.

Test Day

Before the Test

You should show up for the test 30 minutes early so you have time to sign in, complete the ID process, and learn how the test works. You risk being turned away from the test site if you are late, and you will lose the fee you paid to register. If you used one of your retake credits to make the appointment, you will lose the credit.

For entry into a testing facility, the following official identification documents are acceptable:

  • Passport
  • Passport card (US only; must be accompanied by a supplemental ID)
  • Driver’s license or temporary license
  • State or Province ID card (including those issued by the motor vehicle agencies)
  • National ID card
  • Military ID card (not applicable for live online proctored tests)
  • Tribal enrollment/Education card

Before you start the test, you will be given three pieces of scratch paper and a pencil, all of which must be returned before you leave the testing center.

During the Test

There are a few rules to keep in mind as you take the test:

  • You may not give or receive help on the test.
  • You may not copy or talk about what’s on the test.
  • You may not use outside references or resources during the test.
  • You may not engage in disruptive behavior during the test.

You can take breaks between sub-tests if your test center lets you take more than one sub-test in the same day.

Live Online Proctoring

You have the option to take the test remotely via online proctoring.

You should log into your HiSET account 15-30 minutes before your scheduled testing time to complete the check-in process.

You can access your test by logging into your My HiSET account and clicking the link provided therein or in the email you received upon making your booking. Your launch link will be activated 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.

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How Is the HiSET Scored?

The scoring for the HiSET is simplistic. Every question gives one point, which is added to your score with every right answer. Each multiple-choice section gains you a maximum of 20 points, while the essay portion of the test nets only six points total. Your essays will be graded by humans rather than through automated programming, usually by a team of professionals.

A passing grade qualifies as a minimum of 45 cumulative points on the multiple-choice portion (with a minimum of eight points on each individual subsection) and two points for the essay portion.

You will be able to see your scores anywhere between six and ten days for the essay portion of the test, and three and five business days after completing the multiple-choice sections. Your HiSET scores are rendered accessible through your account on the test’s official website, meaning you will have to log in to see them.

When you receive your HiSET scores, you will find a pair of sets, both of which possess different meanings.

Your Comprehensive Score Report

When you view your HiSET scores, you will see your Comprehensive Score Report first and foremost. This report lists only the best scores you’ve received on each section of the HiSET, and synchronizes with any retakes you do. This score will generally be what you request to be sent off to your institution of choice. The Comprehensive Score Report will let you know not only whether you did well on the HiSET, but the number of sections you have completed to date.

Your Individual Test Report

The Individual Test Report is the secondary part of the HiSET’s scoring and is generally much more informative about your skills. When you look at this section, you will find not only your scores for each individual section of the test, but also a full report accompanying the score. These reports will tell you whether you have passed that particular section and what this means with respect to how prepared you are for the workplace or higher education.

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Online HiSET Prep Course

If you want to be fully prepared, Mometrix offers an online HiSET Prep Course. The course is designed to provide you with any and every resource you might want while studying. The HiSET Course includes:

  • Review Lessons Covering All the Topics
  • 1,400+ HiSET Practice Questions
  • More than 1,200 Electronic Flashcards
  • Over 380 Instructional Videos
  • Money-back Guarantee
  • Free Mobile Access
  • and More!

The HiSET Prep Course is designed to help any learner get everything they need to prepare for their HiSET exam. Click below to check it out!

By Peter Rench

Peter Rench joined Mometrix in 2009 and serves as Vice President of Product Development, responsible for overseeing all new product development and quality improvements. Mr. Rench, a National Merit Scholar, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in mathematics from Texas A&M University.


by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: June 28, 2024