HiSET® Test Content

The purpose of the HiSET® exam is to certify a candidate’s attainment of academic knowledge and skills equivalent to those of a high school graduate. It also helps identify areas in which candidates are college- and career-ready and where they need improvement.

The HiSET exam measures proficiency in five core subject areas:

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

Descriptions and detailed information on each of these five content areas, including a sample question for each, can be found in the Test at a Glance document.

The chart below details content coverage for the HiSET exam, what each section will measure and what test takers must do to demonstrate their proficiency in the targeted knowledge and skill areas.

Content AreaKnowledge and Skills TestedTest FeaturesEvidence of Proficiency
Language Arts – Reading

Application of concepts, analysis, synthesis and evaluation involving:

  • Literary Texts
  • Informational Texts

Reading passages with accompanying questions

Format: Multiple choice

Time: 65 minutes (English)

80 minutes (Spanish)

Test takers draw conclusions, deduce meanings, infer relationships, make predictions, determine the main idea or theme, identify major points and make generalizations.
Language Arts – Writing

Proficiency in persuasive and informative writing; analysis, synthesis and evaluation of:

  • Development of Central Position or Claim
  • Organization of Ideas
  • Language Facility
  • Conventions

Essay question and writing samples with accompanying questions

Format: Multiple choice and essay

Time: 120 minutes

Test takers recognize correct and effective use of standard English in the context of a variety of written materials and are asked to make revisions. The essay question measures proficiency in the generation and organization of ideas through a direct assessment of evidence-based writing. Written responses are evaluated on the test takers’ abilities to develop positions or claims supported by evidence from the materials provided as well as their own experiences.

Application of concepts, analysis, synthesis and evaluation involving:

  • Numbers and Operations on Numbers
  • Measurement/Geometry
  • Data Analysis/Probability/Statistics
  • Algebraic Concepts

Stimulus-based materials and discrete items

Format: Multiple choice

Time: 90 minutes

Test takers demonstrate understanding of mathematical concepts and procedures, make inferences or predictions based on data or information, interpret data from a variety of sources, reason quantitatively and evaluate reasonableness of solutions.

Application of concepts, analysis, synthesis and evaluation involving:

  • Science as Inquiry
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Earth Science

Stimulus materials present investigations and research studies. Graphs, tables and charts present experimental results.

Format: Multiple choice

Time: 80 minutes

Test takers demonstrate their ability to use science content knowledge, to apply principles of scientific inquiry, and to interpret and evaluate scientific information.
Social Studies

Application of concepts, analysis, synthesis and evaluation involving:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Civics & Government

Primary documents, posters, cartoons, timelines, maps, graphs, tables, charts and reading passages may be used to present information.

Format: Multiple choice

Time: 70 minutes

Test takers demonstrate their ability to analyze and evaluate various kinds of social studies information.

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