HiSET vs. GED: What's the Difference?

What Is the Difference Between the HiSET and GED?

Both the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) and the General Educational Development (GED) exams are used to award a high school equivalency diploma, but there are differences between the two.

The HiSET has five test sections and the GED has four. Additionally, testing centers for the GED only offer a computer version of the test, whereas the HiSET has a paper and a computer option.

Once either exam is complete, the diploma equivalent is nationally recognized no matter which test was taken.

Where Can I Take the GED or HiSET?

Roughly 20 states accept HiSET scores when awarding a high school equivalency diploma, while around 40 states accept the GED. The states where you can take the GED or HiSET are outlined below.

GED Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming
HiSET California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming

Which Is Harder, the GED or HiSET?

The HiSET and GED both test individuals on their knowledge of math, science, social studies and language arts. However, the HiSET has five subtests (one each for reading and writing), while the GED uses four subtests. The GED combines reading and writing into a single literacy test. If you have the option of taking either the GED or HiSET, check out the test formatting to see which one would suit you best.

Social Studies

The 70-minute HiSET social studies test covers history and political science. An individual's knowledge of such subjects as economics, sociology, and psychology is also measured through multiple-choice questions.

The GED social studies test is also 70 minutes long. The GED social studies exam evaluates an individual's knowledge of civics and government. Other subject areas individuals are tested on include U.S. history and geography.


The HiSET test determines how well test-takers understand scientific principles and measures their ability to use a scientific approach to problem-solving. Examinees' knowledge of science content areas is also assessed. This test takes 80 minutes.

The GED science test takes 90 minutes to complete. Much of the test focuses on determining how well individuals can interpret science experiments and scientific data. It also covers life, physical, and Earth science topics.


The HiSET mathematics test takes 90 minutes and uses multiple-choice questions to determine how well test-takers understand mathematics concepts. Individuals are expected to solve problems involving measurement, estimation, arithmetic, and algebra. They must also be able to interpret data.

The GED mathematics test is 115 minutes. It focuses on quantitative and algebraic problem solving and includes topics in geometry and functions.

Language Arts

The HiSET Reading test takes 65 minutes and uses multiple-choice questions to evaluate test-takers' ability to understand information presented in written form. The 120-minute HiSET Writing test examines test-takers' ability to correct text and write a well-organized essay. It includes multiple-choice questions and an essay prompt.

The GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test takes 150 minutes, 45 of which are allotted for completing the essay assignment. This test assesses both the reading and writing skills of test-takers. There are also tasks designed to determine if examinees can correct writing errors.

What Are the Costs of the GED vs HiSET?

The Educational Testing Service administers the HiSET and charges a $10.75 fee per computer-based subtest and $15 for the paper-based ones. Additional state fees can vary.

The GED Testing Service fee is $30, although some states charge different additional amounts. For example, California adds a $5 fee per GED test.

What Are Passing Scores for the HiSET vs GED?

Each state sets its own passing scores for the HiSET. In general, you must score no less than 8 on each subtest. You are also required to have a total combined score of no less than 45. The minimum accepted score on the writing test's essay section is 2 out of 6 points.

Passing the GED requires a score of 145 on each subtest. To earn a diploma with a College Ready designation you must score 165 or more. By scoring 175 or more, you will receive a College Ready + Credit designation on your diploma.

What Are the Retake Policies for the GED vs HiSET?

Individuals are limited to 3 attempts on the HiSET tests each calendar year.

Examinees can take GED tests as many times as necessary over the course of the year. A discounted rate on the first two retakes of a test is available. Many states do not impose a waiting period for the first two retakes. If you need to take the test a fourth time, then you may have to wait 60 days and pay the full test cost again.

Where Can I Find GED or HiSET Study Materials?

When preparing for your HiSET or GED tests you can take advantage of the study materials available through these links:

GED stands for the General Educational Development tests. These exams are taken by individuals who did not earn a high school diploma and cover four main subject areas. The successful completion of these tests provides the same benefits as graduating high school. Read on to learn more.

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