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Two students working on homework at a table What Is a High School Equivalency?

High School Equivalency Diploma: What Is It, Why It Matters, and How to Get Yours

High school equivalency is an alternative option to a high school diploma. High school equivalency tests are considered an equal standard to a high school diploma and can be useful for gaining employment. Someone who has passed a high school equivalency test can also start their post-secondary training or education.  

High school equivalency testing options are generally used by students who find that traditional high schools cannot accommodate their learning requirements. They are also common for those who drop out of high school or emigrate to the US.

What Is a High School Equivalency?

A high school equivalency degree is a diploma given to adults who were unable to receive a traditional high school diploma. You can now obtain a high school equivalency degree in the United States and its territories. This degree demonstrates that you have the same abilities and knowledge as a high school graduate. 

A high school equivalency diploma can be used while applying to colleges or putting together a resume for a job that requires a high school graduate. Each state has its own set of regulations for who is eligible and what you must do to obtain the diploma.

HSED vs GED: What’s the Difference Between a High School Equivalency Diploma and a GED?

Although there isn’t much of a difference between an HSED and a GED, there are several situations where the HSED is desirable. Though both certifications are similar, a GED just shows that you’ve passed a test. An HSED shows that you’ve passed an exam as well as finished additional coursework. 

How to Get Your High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED)

To obtain a high school equivalency credential, you must pass an equivalency exam offered in your area. Currently, the GED is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, while the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) is available in 21 states and five US territories. The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) is available in four states.

If you’re planning on taking advantage of these testing options and want to earn your high school equivalency diploma, here are some steps you can follow to make your process much easier.

Step 1: Check Eligibility Requirements 

Most states require you to be a state resident over a certain age. However, the eligibility requirements for this test will vary state by state. Some may ask you to take a preparatory course as an additional requirement. Costs and retesting restrictions may also differ.

Step 2: Find a Testing Center

You can find a testing center by visiting the HiSET website and using your ZIP code to find a testing center near you. Each state has specific testing standards, so make sure you qualify and have taken into account any extra requirements before making an appointment to take the test. 

Step 3: Prepare for the Test

You do not, technically, need to prepare for your tests. However, if you have been out of school for a long time, you may want to refresh your knowledge before taking them. The exam consists of five shorter subtests that range in length from 65 minutes to 2 hours. These sections include:

  • Language Arts-Reading (40 multiple-choice questions)
  • Language Arts-Writing (50 multiple-choice questions and an essay)
  • Mathematics (50 multiple-choice questions)
  • Science (50 multiple-choice questions)
  • Social Studies (50 multiple-choice questions)

5 Courses and Resources to Prepare You for the High School Equivalency Test

If you’re planning to take the HiSET exam, you will most likely need to practice your skills beforehand. Below we will detail some great resources to help you review any knowledge you may have forgotten for the HiSET exam. 

McGraw-Hill Education 

The Common Core High School Equivalency Series from McGraw-Hill Education is a cost-effective education program that prepares students for success while also laying the groundwork for four-year college and career preparedness. 

This series contains a set of three updated core instructional modules designed to assist in adult education to prepare for the TASC Test. The curriculum is based on the Common Core State Standards, College & Career Readiness Standards, and TASC Test assessment goals.

Aztec

Aztec has prepared specialized educational plans for learners studying for the TASC Test. Students will have the opportunity to answer computer-based test questions and will get a printable IEP that is correlated to career and college readiness and Aztec remediation.

TASC Academy

To pass the TASC, students must have a solid foundation in math, writing, reading, science, and social studies. An online interactive course like the TASC Test Prep Academy is the quickest method to learn the essential abilities.

TASC Academy is a mobile-friendly online course that teaches students all they need to know to pass the TASC Exam. The adaptive learning system provides a unique learning schedule for each student based on built-in practice exams. This allows them to skip skills they have previously mastered.

Test Prep Books

In test prep books, you will find questions similar to what is on the real test followed by a comprehensive answer explanation. If you miss a question in a practice exam, you can learn what went wrong and how to prevent making the same error in the future. The answer explanations will help you learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them.

Understanding the most up-to-date test-taking methods is critical when anticipating what to expect on the exam. A test taker must not only comprehend the content presented on the exam but also be familiar with the methods required to effectively use the time allotted and complete the test without making any preventable errors.

Trivium Test Prep

This TASC study guide will provide a complete review of all subjects included in the exam. They explain concepts in a straightforward way and there are plenty of sample questions with detailed explanations to help you learn the content. The study guide is concise and concept-driven, with no extraneous information, clumsy efforts at comedy, or perplexing filler.

Can I Get into College with a High School Equivalency Diploma?

Yes, if you have a high school equivalency diploma, you can get into college and feel confident that you are ready for college-level courses. Although every school’s eligibility requirements are different, a high school equivalency diploma is usually accepted. Some high school seniors attend community colleges before applying for bachelor’s degree programs.

What Jobs Can I Get with a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) or a GED?

Students-celebrate-graduation High School Equivalency Diploma: What Is It, Why It Matters, and How to Get Yours
High school equivalency diplomas are a great way to continue your education if you were unable to complete high school.

There are a ton of great career opportunities for people who have earned a high school equivalency diploma or a GED. Below are descriptions of a few of these job titles, including potential salaries. 

Gaming Manager 

Median Salary: $74,700

At casinos, gaming managers keep an eye on the tables, dealers, and patrons. They ensure that both workers and customers obey the regulations of the business and that each game is played fairly. They monitor cash transactions, coordinate with security personnel, and regularly serve clients at the casino.

Hotel Manager 

Median Salary: $56,670  

All operations in a hotel or resort complex are overseen by hotel managers. They supervise hotel employees, engage with clients, and resolve any difficulties that arise with hotel visitors. Hotel managers usually start at entry-level jobs and work their way up.

Firefighter 

Median Salary: $52,500 

Firefighters react to fire-related emergency calls. They are in charge of putting out flames and rescuing those trapped in burning structures. They put on protective gear and utilize specialized equipment to swiftly extinguish flames. They may also act as first responders in other emergencies and perform First Aid duties. 

Insurance Agent

Median Salary: $52,180

Customers buy life, health, and auto insurance through insurance agents. These professionals typically form and maintain long-term relationships with their consumers, guiding them through various life phases. They are able to give accurate pricing quotations and advise consumers on their purchasing alternatives. 

Dispensing Optician

Median Salary: $18.53 per hour 

Dispensing opticians work in optometry practices. They perform administrative activities such as arranging appointments and responding to consumer inquiries. They also assist consumers in selecting the proper glasses or contact lenses, as well as providing information on price and insurance rates.

Should You Get a High School Equivalency Diploma?

Getting a high school equivalency diploma is a good idea if you are a nontraditional student who has not had the opportunity to acquire a standard high school diploma. It is a great option if you are interested in broadening your employment opportunities or post-secondary education options.

However, a high school equivalency diploma is not the only option you have. You can always consider other alternate educational paths that can prepare you for a specific career, such as coding bootcamps, online schools, and trade schools. These options are known for helping students become career-ready.

High School Equivalency FAQ


Do colleges accept HiSET?

Yes. Your HSE certification is accepted by the majority of community institutions, trade schools, and four-year colleges.


Can I take my high school equivalency exam online?

Yes. The GED, HiSET, or TASC testing programs are typically equipped to provide online tests. Contact your state’s testing program directly for further information. In most states, third-party testing sites that offer online testing are unlawful and should be avoided.


How is the high school equivalency test (HiSET) graded?

The high school equivalency test (HiSET) is evaluated on a scale of one to twenty for each section. You must score at least an eight on each multiple-choice section. The essay is scored on a scale of one to six, with two being a passing mark. To pass the HiSET, you must get a total score of 45.


When are HiSET results released?

If you take the HiSET on paper, your multiple-choice section results will be accessible online in three days. You should get your essay grade within five days. If you take the Hiset exam online, you’ll get unofficial results on the multiple-choice portions right away.

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