Frequently Asked Questions About the HiSET® Exam

High School Equivalency (HSE)

How do I know if I am eligible to take a high school equivalency exam like the HiSET® exam?

Each state or jurisdiction has its own eligibility requirements. Most requirements involve:

  • age
  • school enrollment status
  • state residency
  • Adult Education preparation requirement
  • identification

To learn more about the eligibility requirements in your testing location, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

I have a high school equivalency credential from another state. Do I have to start over?

No, your credential is portable. This means that it will be accepted anywhere, not just the state you took it in. So if you've already taken a high school equivalency test and earned your credential, you don't have to take the test again.

Do all states offer the HiSET exam?

All states offer an exam that leads to a high school equivalency credential. There are three different tests: the HiSET exam, the GED® test and the TASC™ test. Each state selects which test or tests they offer.

Go to Requirements by State or Jurisdiction to see if you can take the HiSET exam to earn your high school equivalency credential.

What if I move from one state to another and have subtests from another exam? Can I switch to the HiSET exam?

That will depend on a few different things:

  • what high school equivalency test or tests your state offers
  • if your state allows you to combine scores from different tests to demonstrate your high school equivalency
  • how many subtests you've already taken

Some states don't offer the HiSET exam. Some states don't allow you to combine scores from the HiSET exam and another test. Or you may decide that you don't want to switch tests because you're almost done.

If your state permits you to switch from another test to the HiSET exam, and you decide to do it, the HiSET Customer Service team will work with you to validate previously taken subtests. And your test center, the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin and our test prep materials can be a great resource to help you familiarize yourself with the HiSET exam.

About the test

What is the HiSET exam?

The HiSET exam is a five-part test states use in the process of issuing a high school equivalency credential. The exam allows you to show you have the same academic knowledge and skills as a high school graduate. Taking the exam can help you do lots of different things, like:

  • further your education
  • help you advance in your career
  • join the military
  • meet federal education requirements

Passing scores show you can perform at a level consistent with high school equivalency. Information from the exam also helps to identify areas in which you are career and college ready, as well as areas in which additional preparation may be needed.

Is the exam computer delivered, paper delivered or both?

The HiSET exam is available in both computer- and paper-delivered formats, depending on where you test.

Is there a difference between the computer-delivered test and the paper-delivered test?

The only difference is in how the test is administered. Both cover and score the same content.

Do I have to take all of my subtests in the same format?

No. If your state or jurisdiction offers both paper- and computer-delivered testing, you may take each subtest in the format you are most comfortable with. Check your state requirements to confirm availability.

Is the HiSET exam offered in any language other than English?

The exam is available in both English and Spanish.

Do I have to take all my subtests in one language?

Some states may require you to complete the exam in one language, while others may allow you to take subtests in both English and Spanish. To see what your options are, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

How long does it take to complete the HiSET exam and what subject areas are covered?

The HiSET program has a combined testing length of about seven hours. It covers the following subject areas:

  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

To learn more about the type of material you'll be tested on and the question types within each section, see Test Content or review the Test at a Glance.

How much does the exam cost?

The ETS test fee for each subtest is $10. This includes the exam, scoring and reporting.

States or jurisdictions may charge additional fees. Check with your test centers for specific information before scheduling your appointment.

Where do I find information on test centers, test dates or deadlines?

Find your local test centers using our Test Center Search. Once you've found a test center, the test center staff can give you more information about dates and deadlines, since that information varies by test center.

My HiSET account

Do I need a HiSET account? What can I do through my HiSET account?

Yes, you need an account. Scores aren't mailed; they're only posted in your account. So you'll need it to get your scores. You'll also use it to:

  • find a test center
  • schedule and pay for a test (in some states or jurisdictions)
  • view your appointment confirmation
  • reschedule or cancel a test (in some states or jurisdictions)
  • view your order history
  • print your score report(s)
  • update your profile information

Having an account doesn't just allow you to do these things. It also helps you stay on track during the testing process. For most people, that process can take up to a year.* Your HiSET account is your communication hub where you can keep track of your appointments, see what tests you still need to take and review your score reports to see where you need to study harder. It's one of your most helpful resources!

* Based on the 2015 HiSET Annual Statistical Report

Sign in or create an account.

Why is the name I use to create an account so important?

The name you use when you create your account — and the spelling of that name — must exactly match (excluding accents) the name printed on the identification (ID) documents that you will present on the day of the test. If it doesn't, you may not be allowed to take the test or your test scores may be canceled after you take the test.

For more information about entering your name correctly, see Creating Your Account.

I spelled my name incorrectly, or my name has changed. How do I correct this?

For security reasons, you can't change your name in your HiSET account yourself. This includes to correct misspellings of your name. To have your name changed in your HiSET account, contact ETS Customer Service. They will require documentation with your correct or new name in order to make the change.

If you don't want to update your name and you want to test using your previous name, you can. However, you must be able to provide valid primary identification that has that name on test day. If you can't, you won't be allowed to test.

What if I need to make changes to my profile information?

To make changes before a test, sign into your HiSET account. If you need help, contact your local test center or ETS Customer Service.

Is the online system secure?

Yes. We use a number of techniques to secure your visit.

  • We authenticate each person using the unique username and password provided.
  • After 30 minutes of inactivity on the site (e.g., you step away from the computer or switch to another website), the system closes your connection.
  • In addition, when you provide your credit card information, we use standard secure-encrypted methods to transmit the account information.
What should I do if I forget my username?

On the sign-in page, under "Returning Users," click the "Forgot Username" link. You'll be asked to enter the email address that you used for your HiSET account. After that, you'll receive an email containing your username. You may need to wait a few minutes to receive the email.

What should I do if I forget my password?

On the sign-in page, under "Returning Users," click the "Forgot Password" link. You'll be asked to enter your username and the email address that you used for your HiSET account, answer the security question you selected when creating your account and create a new password. After that, you can sign in with your new password.

Can I change my password myself through the website?

Yes. After signing in, click the "Change Password" link on your home page and follow the instructions to change your password.

Why was I taken back to the sign-in page in the middle of scheduling my appointment?

If you do not interact with the HiSET account for 30 minutes or more, your session may expire and you'll be taken back to the sign-in page.

Registration and scheduling

How do I register and schedule? And are they the same thing?

Registering refers to creating your HiSET account. Scheduling refers to setting up your test appointment.

Learn more about Creating Your Account.

Find out how you can Schedule Your Appointment.

If you need help with either of these things, contact your test center or call ETS Customer Service at 1-855-MyHiSET (1-855-694-4738).

Can I schedule my appointment online?

It depends on where you're taking the exam. Some states and jurisdictions allow online scheduling, while others don't. You'll know because of how the test center will appear in your online HiSET account.

  • Test centers that allow online scheduling have a button to "schedule appointment."
  • If your state or jurisdiction doesn't allow online scheduling, you'll see a message to contact your test center instead of the button.

See Requirements by State or Jurisdiction for more information.

What do I need to schedule an appointment online?
  • a HiSET account
  • a valid email address
  • a phone number
  • an accepted form of payment (credit or debit card, checking account, or PayPal® account)
What are acceptable forms of payment?

How you'll pay for the exam depends on how you schedule it. There are different payment policies if you schedule online or if you schedule on the phone. State policies can differ too, especially if you're testing in a state that requires you to pay at the test center.

For more information, see Fees, Payment and Refund Policies and Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

What is a HiSET Test Voucher?

A HiSET Test Voucher is a form of payment from a third party. You can't buy a Test Voucher. Someone else buys it for you.

For example, some employers pay for the HiSET exam as an employee benefit to those who do not have a high school diploma. The employer purchases vouchers from ETS for test takers in their organization. Then the test takers use these vouchers to pay for their tests.

Test vouchers are not transferable. 

Do I have to take the subtests in a certain order?

In most states, you can take the subtests in whatever order you want. For more information, check your Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

Should I take the computer-delivered test or the paper-delivered test?

That depends on which format you're more comfortable with and how the exam is delivered in your state or jurisdiction. Check your Requirements by State or Jurisdiction to see which formats are available to you.

I scheduled to take the computer-delivered test, but now I want to take the paper-delivered test. Can I do that?

Yes, if your test center offers both formats. However, you won't be able to show up on the day of your test and expect to switch. You must make the request before test day, and some states will require that you cancel your original appointment completely and schedule a new appointment in the other format.

For more information about switching formats, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

How do I provide proof of my eligibility to take the exam?

While scheduling your appointment, you'll be asked to check a box to confirm that you have reviewed and understand the eligibility requirements for your state or jurisdiction. Then your identity is verified at the test center using valid identification documents. Make sure to check with your test center about which documents they will be asking you for before arriving at your appointment.

What if I miss my test appointment?

If you miss your appointment, you automatically forfeit all test fees. If you know that you won't be able to make your appointment, cancel or reschedule immediately. If you cancel by 11:59 p.m. local time the day before your appointment, you'll be eligible for a refund.

For more information about how to cancel or reschedule in your testing location, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

How do I cancel my appointment and receive a refund?

To be eligible for a refund, you have to cancel by 11:59 p.m. local time the day before your appointment.

How you'll cancel depends on where you're testing. For more information, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

Is there a limit to how many times I can retake a test?

You can take a subtest up to three times in a calendar year. This includes your initial appointment and two retakes.

For more information about how you can retake a test, please see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

Does cancelling an appointment count toward my two retakes?

Cancelling the appointment does not. However, when you reschedule your appointment, it will count toward that total.

If my test appointment is canceled due to inclement weather or natural disasters, how will I know?

In most cases, ETS will contact you. If ETS doesn't, then the test center will.

I missed my test because of a natural disaster or a local event. Can I reschedule it at no penalty?

Yes. ETS understands events may occur outside of the test taker's control and has processes in place to handle these cases.

Accommodations for disabilities or health-related needs

What type of disabilities are accommodated?

ETS is committed to serving individuals with disabilities and health-related needs by providing services and reasonable accommodations that are appropriate given the purpose of the test. Accommodations are available for test takers with diagnosed disabilities that include, but are not limited to:

  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Psychological or psychiatric disorders
  • Learning and other cognitive disabilities
  • Physical disorders/chronic health disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Hearing and visual impairment

If you have any questions about seeking accommodations, please contact ETS Disability Services.

I need a test accommodation for a disability or health-related need. How do I arrange that? 

To learn more about the request process, see Requesting an Accommodation or the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin.

How long does it take for my accommodation to be approved?

Documentation review can take up to six weeks once your request and complete paperwork have been received. If additional documentation is required, it may take another six weeks from the time the new documentation is received until the review is complete.

How do I register for my test once I receive approval?

Once your accommodations have been approved, you must contact ETS Disability Services to schedule your appointment. You can't schedule through your HiSET account. ETS Disability Services will set up your appointment and make sure your accommodation is supported by your test center.

What accommodations can test centers provide to all test takers?

The test center will have the following items available to all test takers. You don't need prior ETS approval to use them.

  • Large print test book (14-point) and answer sheet
  • Scratch paper (to be collected by test center personnel at end of testing session)
  • Wheelchair access

Your test center may also be able to provide preferential seating so you can better hear instructions or cut down on distractions.

I have a health-related need that requires bringing equipment, beverages or snacks into the testing room. What do I have to do?

If you have a health-related need that requires you to bring special equipment, beverages or snacks into the testing room, or to take extra or extended breaks, you need to follow the test accommodation request procedures.

Can I bring my own tools/accommodations to the test center?

Yes, there are some items that you can bring with you without getting prior ETS approval. They are:

  • Colored transparent overlays (for paper-delivered testing only).
  • Colored scratch paper (to be collected by test center personnel at end of testing session).
  • Earplugs (not attached to any electronic device).
  • Plain, unmarked straightedge to assist with keeping place while reading. You may use a piece of scrap paper for this purpose, but it must be returned at the end of the testing session.
  • Handheld nonelectronic magnifying device (without memory or camera).
  • Seat cushion/back pillow, or footstool. Item will be inspected by test center personnel before and after testing.
  • Prescription medication. Must be in the prescription bottle with a label indicating your name, dosage and directions.
  • Service animals.
  • Medical devices (e.g., asthma inhaler, hearing aid, pacemaker, insulin pump on vibrate or silent, oxygen tank, TENS stimulator).
  • Highlighter or black felt pen for essays and scratch work only.

Any form of accommodation or modification not in this list requires approval. If you have any questions about whether or not you can bring something, check with your test center before test day.

Where can I find more information about accommodations?

Learn more, including the step-by-step process for requesting accommodations, in the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin.

Preparing for the exam

I think I need formal instruction to pass the HiSET exam. Where do I find an adult education center?

ETS strongly recommends receiving instruction at an adult education center. You can locate one with this web resource:
https://literacydirectory.org/.

You can also find information about adult education centers through:

  • the district office at your local school district
  • local test centers and community colleges
  • government agencies such as the Department of Labor, Job Corps or social services
  • ETS Customer Service
Do adult education courses cost anything?

It depends on your location. Many states do not charge for adult education courses, while others do.

How can I prepare for the HiSET exam?
  • Familiarize yourself with the administrative procedures outlined in the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin and your state requirements.
  • Review the Test at a Glance to learn about what content is covered by the test.
  • Determine how well you know the content to see how much preparation time you'll need.
  • Choose a test date that's far enough away to give you enough time to prepare for the subtest(s).
  • Visit Prepare for the HiSET exam to see all the available test preparation materials.
Where can I find HiSET sample test questions?

You can find sample questions in the following places:

I'm having trouble passing the exam. What other resources are available to help me?
  • Review your Individual Test Reports to see which content areas you need more study in.
  • Contact your local Adult Education center for more support preparing for the HiSET exam.

Test day

What can I bring into the test center on test day?

On test day, you should bring:

  • Valid, acceptable ID
  • A copy of your appointment confirmation page (optional)
  • Layered clothing that will allow you to adapt to a range of room temperatures
  • Payment for the test center administration fee (if applicable)

Your state or jurisdiction may require you to bring different things. For more information, contact your test center or review your state or jurisdiction requirements.

What shouldn't I bring on test day?

Items that are not allowed in the testing room include, but are not limited to:

  • testing aids
  • cell phones
  • smartphones (e.g., BlackBerry®, Android™, iPhone®)
  • tablets
  • PDAs
  • other electronic, recording, listening, scanning or photographic devices
  • personal calculators (including wristwatch calculators)
  • food or drinks
  • books
  • papers
  • highlighter pens
What identification will I need to show on test day?

View the Identification (ID) Requirements for the HiSET exam. Some states or jurisdictions have their own ID requirements, too, so be sure to review your Requirements by State or Jurisdiction. If you have any questions, check with your test center.

What are examples of acceptable primary ID documents for admission to a test center?
  • Passport
  • Government-issued driver's license or temporary license
  • State ID card (including those issued by the motor vehicle agencies)
  • National ID card
  • Military ID card
If I changed my name because of marriage or other reasons, should I bring my marriage license?

No. A marriage license is not considered valid identification. If your name changes, you should contact ETS and provide a copy of your marriage license prior to test day so they can update the name in your HiSET account. Your name in your account must match the identification you bring on test day. If it doesn't, you will not be allowed to test.

Are there any documents I can't use as ID?

Yes. The following documents are not acceptable as primary or supplemental ID under any circumstances:

  • Any document that is photocopied
  • International driver's license
  • Draft classification card
  • International student ID
  • Credit/debit card of any kind
  • Notary-prepared letter or document
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
My driver's license is expired. Will it be accepted?

Yes, in some states and if you have the proper additional documentation and supplemental ID. For more information, see Identification Requirements.

Are calculators allowed for the HiSET exam?

Yes, but you can't bring your own. Your test center will provide a calculator to you.

Are there storage areas or lockers at the test center?

Many test centers have storage areas or lockers where you can store personal items; however, not all do. Ask your test center before test day so you can plan.

Can I bring food or drink to the test center?

Yes, but you can't bring them into the testing room. You'll have to leave any food or drink in a locker or storage area, if the test center has one.

If you have a health-related need that requires you to bring beverages or snacks into the testing room, you must request accommodations in advance. See Disability Accommodations.

What if I wear head covering or headgear?

Head coverings (headgear) worn for religious or medical purposes are permitted. Typical head coverings may include hats, turbans, scarves and yarmulkes. You can't remove or put anything into the head covering during the test.

What if I need a break?

You'll receive scheduled breaks between individual subtests if you're taking more than one at a time.

Unscheduled or extended breaks are generally not permitted during the test session. If you must take a break, you'll need to get permission from the test center staff. Please be advised that the clock won't be stopped. It will continue throughout your break, and you won't get any additional time.

While on a break, you're not permitted to access your cell phone or other electronic, recording, listening or photographic devices.

What if there is an instance of misconduct during my test session?

Both order and security must be maintained at the test center; therefore, anyone failing to adhere to the policies of the test center or cause a disturbance may be dismissed from the testing session, with ID information and a report about the disturbance going to ETS. Test fees will not be refunded and your scores will not be reported. Some examples of misconduct include:

  • the use of testing aids
  • giving or receiving information
  • discussing the content of the test on break
  • creating a disturbance during the test session

If you are taking a test during a disturbance, the test center administrator will try to resolve the issue. You should not be penalized for the actions of others.

What can I expect on the day of my computer-delivered test?

Learn more about what you can expect by watching the Official Overview of the ETS® High School Equivalency Test (Video).

Scores

How long will it take for me to get my scores?

If you took the computer-delivered test, you'll receive your unofficial score for multiple-choice subtests at the test center after you finish the test (except for the Language Arts — Writing essay). ETS will review and certify your scores and provide official scores within:

  • three business days for multiple-choice tests
  • five business days the Language Arts – Writing subtest

If you take a paper-delivered test, scoring will happen as soon as ETS receives your answer sheets. It will take about the same amount of time to score, but if answer sheets are not sent promptly by the test center, your scores may take more time than what is stated above.

How do I get my scores?

Your scores are available through your HiSET account. If you don't have Internet access or you need help, contact your test center or call ETS Customer Service at 1-855-MyHiSET (1-855-694-4738).

How do I know if I passed?

Your score report indicates whether or not you passed. To pass, you must do all three of these things:

  • Achieve a scaled score of at least 8 out of 20 on each individual subtest*
  • Score at least 2 out of 6 on the Language Arts — Writing essay section
  • Achieve a total scaled score of at least 45 out of 100 on all five subtests

See the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin for more information.

* Some states have their own passing criteria. If you want to know if you passed in your state, see Requirements by State or Jurisdiction.

What is a college- and career-readiness score?

If you score at least 15 out of 20 on any of the subtests and at least a 4 on the essay, that indicates college and career readiness. Your college- and career-readiness score means you scored at the 75th percentile of graduating high school students and indicates that you should be able to enroll in credit-bearing course work in the university level.

Why are there two different kinds of score reports?

The two reports serve different purposes.

  • Your Comprehensive Score Report is a cumulative record that shows your highest scaled score for each subtest and whether or not you passed the HiSET exam. It is also your official record that may be sent to schools and employers. You only have one Comprehensive Score Report. It is updated each time you take a new subtest or each time you retake a subtest and get a better score.
  • Your Individual Test Reports are records of each subtest and provide more detailed information that can help you if you want to improve your score. The individual score report also indicates your college and career readiness in that particular content area. You have one for each time you take a subtest, so it's possible that you may have more than one for a subtest if you retake it.
Which score report is my official report?

The Comprehensive Score Report is your official score report. It details your progress on all subtests taken and your overall performance on the HiSET exam. It indicates whether or not you have successfully passed the HiSET exam and if you are college and career ready.

Are my scores automatically sent to anyone, or do I need to send them?

Your scores are automatically shared with the test center where you took your exam and the state administrator's office. If you would like them to be sent to an employer or college, contact ETS Customer Service or your test center to find out how to make your request.

What is a scaled score?

A scaled score is a scoring method that makes it easier to compare scores across different forms of the same test. We get it by statistically adjusting and converting raw scores onto a common scale. To learn more about what a scaled score means on the HiSET exam, see Getting Your Scores.

It looks like I got a passing score on the Language Arts – Writing test, but I didn't pass. Why not?

The reason you didn't pass is most likely that, while you received the minimum recommended passing score of 8 on the two-part Language Arts – Writing test, you didn't score at least a 2 on the essay section of the test. Both are required to pass. The total score of 8 and essay score of 2 have to be earned on the same test date. Scores from multiple tests can't be combined.

Where can I get information about scoring policies?

You can read more about scoring policies in the HiSET® Test-taker Bulletin.

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