Iowa GED Programs and School Information

Aug 03, 2018

Though the term GED is often synonymous with a high school equivalency diploma, Iowa currently awards this credential to applicants who pass the HiSet (High School Equivalency Test), rather than the GED exam. Adult learners who want to earn one of these alternative diplomas can prepare for the test by enrolling in adult literacy programs available at 15 of Iowa's community colleges.

How Can I Earn a GED in Iowa?

While the GED exam was used in previous years to grant high school equivalency diplomas to Iowa's adult learners, the state now uses the High School Equivalency Test exam to determine applicants' preparedness for this credential.

To sit for the HiSet in Iowa, individuals must be at least 18 years of age and enrolled in one of the state's adult education programs. Those who are 16 or 17 can take the exam if they meet certain criteria. Everyone must also take an official practice test before becoming eligible to register via an online account or with a local testing center. Test takers do not have to be a resident of Iowa.

Students must obtain a total of 45 points on all five of the exam's subtests combined to pass. A score of no lower than eight points must be obtained on each individual test, and students must also earn at least two of six possible points on the essay included in the writing portion.

Prep Information

Students who need help preparing for the exam can enroll in test prep programs offered at several of Iowa's community colleges. As many as 15 of the state's public 2-year schools offer instruction that covers topics found on each of the exam's five subtests. This training is typically available on campus, though some schools offer online programs. Additional resources include tutoring programs for adults learning how to read, and basic skills classes for students who want remedial instruction in math, reading and writing.

Exam Requirements

The five test sections range in length from 65-120 minutes; Iowa does not permit test takers to take all five exam sections in the same day. Additionally, individuals can't take the writing or math sections last, but other than that they can be taken in any order. The first four sections need to be passed in order to take the fifth. In addition to subject area knowledge, the tests are designed to assess students' information processing, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills. Individual HiSet subtests cover:

  • Mathematics
  • Social studies
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Science

Applicants are allowed to retake any individual test they do not pass, up to three times in a calendar year. However, test takers have to wait three months or finish classwork provided by a certified instructor in the area or areas to be retested. After verification, the local testing center will grant permission to retest.

Why Pass the HiSET in Iowa?

Almost 8,000 Iowans pass the HiSET every year, which enables them to earn an average of $7,000 more annually than those who don't have a high school diploma. Most people who pass the HiSET can also Lapply for college and other continuing education programs.

Need help preparing for the GED? Check out's GED Test Prep study guides, complete with bite-size video lessons, practice tests, informational resources, and more to make sure you ace the exam!

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