Over the past few years there has been a growing chorus of complaints about the GED, which is the main test used to qualify students for a high school degree. This criticism only increased when the administrators of the GED announced that, beginning in January of 2014, the test would be aligned with the Common Core standards. The Common Core standards have been adopted by most states. They are intended to ensure that students have the knowledge and skills to thrive in the workplace. There is a greater emphasis on practical learning, information management, and effective communication.
The Common Core standards have received a great deal of criticism, but even supporters must acknowledge that the new curriculum uses a unique math model with which students need to be familiar in order to be successful. This is problematic for students who will be taking the GED in the next few years because they have not had a chance to learn the new math model. Many students whose knowledge of mathematics is sufficient to pass the test will fail simply because the format is new.
There is an alternative to the GED, however. The HiSET exam is a similar test, but it has a number of advantages over the GED. The HiSET is also going to align with the Common Core standards, but it is going to do so much more gradually. This will give students a chance to familiarize themselves with the new math models before seeing it on the test. Moreover, the consensus opinion of educational experts is that the HiSET math section is slightly easier than the corresponding section of the GED, but without being an unfair reflection of student readiness for the workforce. In other words, the HiSET math questions are student-friendly while still providing a credible assessment. Specifically, students report that the questions on the HiSET are clearer and more succinct than those on the GED.
There are some other reasons why the HiSET is growing in popularity. For one thing, it is less expensive than the GED. The HiSET fee also includes two free retests, while those who fail the GED on their first attempt must pay the full fee again. Both of these tests are difficult, and many students will need to take them more than once in order to achieve a passing score. For this reason, the free retests are extremely valuable, especially for men and women of limited means.
The HiSET also distinguishes itself from the GED in the manner in which it is created and organized. The HiSET was developed by the College of Education at the University of Iowa, while the GED is the work of a for-profit company. Before it is administered, the HiSET is tested on actual high school students. The test is fine-tuned until it is judged to be scientifically reliable and valid. In other words, the HiSET is guaranteed to be an effective and consistent judge of what it purports to measure. The GED, on the other hand, is a product that is created to be sold, and so a number of different forces and incentives may influence its composition.
There are still more advantages to the HiSET testing program. Unlike the GED, which is only administered on computer, the HiSET may be taken with pen and paper. For many students, in particular those who have limited experience with computers, it will be less stressful to take the test manually.
For all of these reasons and more, the popularity of the HiSET is growing every year. So far, 14 states have approved the HiSET as an alternative to the GED; as more students and educators become aware of the advantages of the HiSET relative to the GED, it is certain that this number will continue to rise.