Tips and Strategies for Getting Ready for the HiSET® Exam

Preparation for the test will depend on the amount of time you have available and your personal preferences for how to prepare. At a minimum, before you take the HiSET® exam you should know:

  • what to expect during the overall process, including how to create an account, schedule appointments and get your scores
  • if the subtest you are taking has multiple-choice questions, essay questions or both
  • how many questions are on the subtest
  • what topics the subtest covers
  • the amount of time you get for each subtest

You can learn more about the process for taking the HiSET exam on this website and in the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin. You can also prepare using the available test preparation materials. Information is also available by contacting ETS.

Below are some helpful tips and strategies to help you do your best on the HiSET exam.

Test-taking Tips

  1. Learn what the test covers.
    See Test Content to learn more about what’s on the test.

  2. Assess how well you know the content.
    The longer you've been away from the content the more preparation you will most likely need. If it has been longer than a few months since you've studied your content area, you will want to make more of an effort to prepare.

  3. Plan and organize your time.
    Allow yourself plenty of time to review so you can avoid "cramming" new material at the end. Here are a few tips:

    • Choose a test date far enough in the future to leave you plenty of preparation time.
    • Work backward from that date to figure out how much time you will need for review.
    • Set a realistic schedule and stick to it.
  4. Understand how questions will be scored.
    Scoring information can be found in the Scores section of this website and in the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin.

Test-taking Strategies

Multiple-choice Questions

All of the subtests contain multiple-choice questions.

When taking the computer-delivered HiSET exam, you can skip questions and come back to them using the "mark and review" feature. This feature also:

  • lets you view a complete list of all the questions in the section
  • indicates whether you've answered each question
  • identifies the questions you've marked for review
  • lets you review questions you already answered and change your answers

For the Mathematics subtest, a handheld calculator is available for the paper-delivered test, and an on-screen calculator is available for the computer-delivered test. For information about using the on-screen calculator, watch the HiSET tutorial video.

Essay Questions

Only the Language Arts – Writing subtest contains an essay question.

While you work on your essay, remember to budget your time. Within the time limit, you need to allow yourself enough time to think about the question, plan a response and write your essay.

Save a few minutes at the end of the essay portion of your exam to check for obvious errors. Although an occasional typographical, spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severe and persistent errors will detract from the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score.

Scratch Paper

You will receive a supply of scratch paper before you begin the test. You can ask the test administrator for more scratch paper, if needed. The test administrator will collect your used scratch paper before giving you more paper. You can't have more than three sheets of scratch paper at any time. At the end of the test session, your scratch paper will be collected by the test administrator and you will not be able to take the scratch paper with you.


Test takers who are taking multiple subtests in one day will have a scheduled break between tests. If you are taking the Language Arts – Writing subtest, you also get a break between Part 1, the multiple-choice section, and Part 2, the essay section. Unscheduled breaks are generally not permitted. However, if you must take a break, you will need to get permission from the test center staff. Please be advised that the clock will not be stopped. It will continue throughout your break, and you will not get any additional time.

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