California HiSET® Requirements
The following policies apply to anyone taking the HiSET® exam in the state of California. When you schedule an appointment, you will need to confirm that you have read and understand these policies.
See California high school equivalency testing program for more information.
Note: Certain California school districts or adult schools have different requirements. If you're taking the HiSET exam in any of the following, please refer to their requirement pages:
- Chula Vista Adult School
- Long Beach School for Adults
- Los Angeles Unified School District Test Center
State Eligibility Requirements
To take the HiSET exam in California, you must be a California resident or a member of the armed forces assigned to this state and meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Age: To take the HiSET exam in California, you must meet any one of the following requirements:
- You must be 18 years of age or older or within 60 days of your 18th birthday (regardless of school enrollment status).
- You must be within 60 days of when you would have graduated from high school had you remained in school and followed the usual course of study. (May not currently be enrolled in school.)
- You must be 17 years of age and out of school for at least 60 consecutive days. You must also provide a letter of request from the military, a postsecondary educational institution or a prospective employer.
- You must be 17 years of age and incarcerated in a California state or county correctional facility. If you are testing under these conditions, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- You do not have a realistic chance of completing the requirements for a high school diploma.
- You have adequate academic skills to successfully complete the HiSET exam.
- You understand the options available regarding acquisition of a high school diploma, the high school equivalency certificate, or the high school proficiency certificate and the requirements, expectations, benefits and limitations of each option.
- You have sufficient commitment time left to complete the entire HiSET exam; however, if released from incarceration before completing the test, you may finish testing at an authorized testing center.
Note: If you pass the HiSET exam at age 17, you will not receive the equivalency certificate until your 18th birthday. Before that time, you will receive a letter of intent stating that the certificate is being held pending your 18th birthday.
- Residency: You must presently live in California or be physically present and have domicile in California for some appreciable length of time on a work or study visa, CA Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, Section 11530(a). You must be able to prove California residency.
- Test Preparation or Instruction: You are not required to take HiSET preparation courses before taking the test.
- Practice Test: You are not required to take the HiSET practice test before taking the exam.
- Identification: Identity and age must be verified by current photo identification at time of scheduling and/or before admittance to the testing room. Acceptable identification includes: driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles, an identification card issued by the military, an identification card issued by the U.S. or a foreign government, a passport issued by the U.S. or a foreign government, a tribal identification card or an identification card issued by a postsecondary school. The identification must include your name, birth date, signature, photograph and address.
Make sure you read and understand all of the State Eligibility Requirements above. Below are additional policies for taking the HiSET exam in California.
Fees, Payment and Refunds
- How much does it cost to take the HiSET exam in California?
California test centers set their own fees per subtest. Contact your test center for details.
- I only have cash. How can I pay for my HiSET exam?
You must pay for the exam at the time you schedule it in person, online or by phone (depending on your selected test center's requirement. However, if you only have cash, and your test center does not accept your method of payment you may use one of the following ways:
- purchase a prepaid PayPal® My Cash Card and fund a PayPal account
- purchase a VISA®, MasterCard® or American Express® gift card
- open a free checking account and pay with an electronic check (eCheck)
To learn more about how you can use one of these payment methods, download the Cash Options for HiSET Test Takers Flyer.
- How do I pay for the HiSET exam if I am scheduling through my online account?
If you are scheduling online, you may pay by:
- debit card or credit card (American Express, Discover®, MasterCard, VISA and JCB)
- How do I pay for the HiSET exam if I am scheduling my appointment online or by phone?
If you are scheduling by phone, you may pay by debit card or credit card (American Express, Discover, MasterCard, VISA and JCB).
You can't use a PayPal account to pay over the phone.
- What is the refund policy?
The refund policy is as follows:
- Test Fee: You are eligible for a full refund of your test fee if you cancel at any time up until 11:59 p.m. local time the day before your scheduled appointment.
- State, Jurisdiction or Test Center Fee: You are not eligible for a state, jurisdiction or test center fee refund. These fees are nonrefundable.
- What if something unexpected happens on test day, I don't cancel and I cannot make my scheduled appointment? Can I get a refund?
ETS understands that things happen that are outside your control and has processes in place to evaluate and approve refunds for ETS-collected HiSET test fees. Exception cases are handled and evaluated for refund eligibility on a case-by-case basis. Exception cases refer to:
- events caused by ETS, the test center or tester
- events beyond the control of all parties (e.g., severe weather, power outages, etc.)
- Can I take the HiSET exam on paper or computer?
The HiSET exam is available in both computer- and paper-delivered formats in California. However, both formats are not available at every test center. Make sure you verify that the format you prefer is available at your selected test center before scheduling your testing appointment.
- If I scheduled a paper-delivered test, can I change my mind and take the test on a computer?
Yes. You can change your mind and take a computer-delivered test even though you scheduled a paper-delivered test. However, you do need to check with your test center to make sure that both options are available, as not all test centers offer both computer-delivered and paper-delivered tests.
- If I started testing in paper-delivered format, can I switch or retake my remaining subject tests in computer-delivered format?
Yes. You can switch test formats or retake your remaining subject tests in a different format from when you started.
- If I started testing in English, can I switch or retake my remaining subject tests to Spanish?
No. Once you start testing in one language, you will have to complete and pass the battery in the same language. The same applies if you start testing in Spanish.
- How do I request accommodations so I can be successful on the HiSET exam?
If you have a disability or health-related needs, you need to request accommodations prior to scheduling your test appointment. For more information, see Disability Accommodations.
- Where do I send my request for testing accommodations?
Send all completed requests for testing accommodations to:Mail: ETS Disability Services
P.O. Box 6054
Princeton, NJ 08541-6054Email: email@example.com
Scheduling an Appointment
- How can I schedule/change a testing appointment?
Once you are ready to take the test, you can schedule your testing appointment in one of three ways depending on your selected test center:
- online through your HiSET account
- by contacting your test center
- by calling ETS Customer Service
To reschedule your appointment, you may call an ETS representative at 1-855-MyHiSET (1-855-694-4738) or contact your test center. Read the policies on rescheduling, canceling or retaking the test included on this page.
You must contact ETS to schedule your appointment if you:
- Can I take the subtests in any order?
- Can I take all five subtests in one day?
Yes. Contact your local test center for availability.
- If I am 16 years old, can I schedule an appointment to take the HiSET exam?
No. Please refer to California's age requirements at the top of this page.
- If I am 17 years old, can I schedule an appointment to take the HiSET exam?
You can take the HiSET exam if you are 17 if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You have been out of school for at least 60 days. You must also provide a letter of request for the test from military, postsecondary educational institute or a prospective employer.
- You are incarcerated in a California state or county correctional facility. If you are testing under these conditions, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- do not have a realistic chance of completing the requirements of a high school diploma
- have adequate academic skills to successfully complete the HiSET battery
- understand the options available regarding acquisition of a high school diploma, the high school equivalency certificate, or the high school proficiency certificate and the requirements, expectations, benefits and limitations of each option
- have sufficient commitment time left to finish the complete HiSET battery of tests; however, if you are released from incarceration before the test is finished, you may do so at an authorized testing center
Note: If you pass the HiSET exam at age 17, you will receive a letter of intent stating that the certificate is being held pending your 18th birthday. You will receive the equivalency certificate after you turn 18.
- What can I do through my online account?
Once you have created an account, you can:
- update your account information (address, phone, email)
- View your scheduled testing appointments
- schedule, reschedule or cancel a testing appointment (depending on your selected testing center)
- view your approved accommodations (if applicable)
- view and print your Comprehensive Score Report and Individual Test Reports
- What is the reschedule policy?
- To avoid forfeiting your test fee, you must reschedule your appointment any time up until 11:59 p.m. local time, the day before your scheduled appointment.
- You have 12 months from the day you schedule your appointment to reschedule. For example, if you schedule in November 2015 for a test date at any time in the future, your reschedule date must be before November 2016.
- Testing fees and registrations are not interchangeable between paper-delivered and computer-delivered tests. For instance, if you scheduled a paper test and need to take a computer test instead, you must cancel the paper test and schedule a new computer testing appointment.
- How many times can I reschedule my testing appointment?
Contact your local test center for details.
- What are the cancellation policies?
- You can cancel your appointment at any time. However, depending on when you cancel, you may forfeit your HiSET fee. See refund policies information above.
- You can contact your test center to cancel your appointment. You can also do it online through your HiSET account or by calling ETS Customer Service at 1-855-MyHiSET (1-855-694-4738).
- If you have a disability or health-related need and you require testing accommodations, you must call ETS to cancel your appointment at 1-855-802-2748 (1-855-694-4738) (toll-free), Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. ET.
- What are the retest policies?
You may test on each subtest three times during a calendar year. Contact your test center for more information.
- What do I need to bring on the day of my test?
You will need to bring:
- Acceptable and valid ID as required by California. Make sure your name on your ID appears EXACTLY as it does on your profile you created in your HiSET account when you scheduled your HiSET exam.
- Layered clothing that will allow you to adapt to a range of room temperatures.
- You need to be a resident of California to take the HiSET exam in California so you need to provide proof of residency.
Please note: Cell phones, smartphones (e.g., BlackBerry® or iPhone® devices, etc.), PDAs and/or any other electronic, photographic, scanning, recording or listening devices are not permitted at the test center at all. See What to Bring for a list of additional items not permitted in the testing session.
- What can I use to prove California residency?
The California Department of Education has provided the following list of documents that may be used to prove California residency:
- California driver's license
- California identification card
- Birth certificate
- State and federal tax returns
- Marriage license
- Vehicle registration
- Utility bill
- Voter registration
- Bank statement
- Residential lease
- Government-issued documentation (city, county and state)
- What do I do if I have health-related needs that require an exception to the Test Center policies?
If you have a health-related need requiring you to bring equipment, beverages or snacks into the testing room or to take extra or extended breaks, you need to request accommodations in advance. Procedures for requesting accommodations are described in Disability Accommodations.
- How do I know if I've passed the HiSET exam?
Each of the five subtests in the HiSET exam is scored on a scale of 1–20. In order to pass you must do all three of the following:
- achieve a score of at least 8 on each of the five individual subtests
- score at least 2 out of 6 on the essay portion of the writing test
- have a total combined score on all five subtests of at least 45
Some states may set passing scores that are higher, but under no circumstances can you pass with a total score lower than 45 on the exam.
- What does my individual test scoring report tell me?
Each individual test scoring report indicates:
- your score, the total possible score and whether you passed
- the minimum score required to pass
- the percentage of items you answered correctly
- your college- and career-readiness score
- What does passing mean?
Candidates who have received a passing score on the HiSET exam have demonstrated a level of performance that exceeds the minimum level of performance typically required to graduate from high school.
- How should I interpret my score?
If the HiSET exam were to be administered to a random sample of high school seniors, it is estimated that approximately 60 percent would pass on the first attempt. If you receive a score of 45 or higher we estimate that you would be in approximately the top 40 percent of graduating high school seniors nationally.
- How are passing rates determined?
A score equivalency table was established between the HiSET exam and a nationally administered high school equivalency examination. Passing rates (60 percent) were chosen so as to be roughly equivalent to those on the nationally administered examination.
- Did I demonstrate college and career readiness?
Your individual test score report also indicates whether or not you have achieved the score required to demonstrate college and career readiness — with at least 15 out of 20 on any of the subtests. For the Language Arts – Writing test, you must score at least a total score of 15 with a 4 on the essay.
- What does college and career readiness mean?
Students who have scored at the college- and career-readiness level have shown a level of performance similar to the minimum level required to succeed in college-level credit-bearing courses.
- What information is provided so I can try to improve my score on the HiSET exam?
On the HiSET subtests, questions are grouped into content categories. To help you in future study or in preparing to retake the test, your individual test score report shows the "number correct" you earned in each content category. This information might suggest areas where it would be worthwhile to concentrate your efforts.
- When will I receive my official transcript and certificate?
Your official California transcript and certificate will be mailed to the address provided when you created your MY HiSET profile. The official transcript and High School Equivalency Certificate is issued at no cost from Diploma Sender. You should expect to receive them approximately 10 business days after your scores are posted on your My HiSET account. Please visit www.diplomasender.com for updated information or to request a duplicate transcript and/or certificate. Duplicate or additional documents will incur a charge.
Your scores are available through your My HiSET account. If you need help, contact your test center. As long as you have taken at least one subtest at a test center, they will be able to access your scores.
- How can a third-party agency request my results?
Third-party agencies needing to obtain results for HiSET test takers should contact Diploma Sender:Website: www.diplomasender.comPhone: 1-855-313-5799