HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?

HiSET vs GED exam: What Is The Difference?

HiSET vs GED exam: What's the difference? This blog post will show you the key difference between HiSET and GED exams. Check it out!

GED (General Education Development) and HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) are two of the most common exams that people often take to achieve better employment or to get a college education. Because GED and HiSet are equivalent to a standard high school diploma, people who don’t complete their high school curriculum or obtain a high school diploma will choose to take these exams. However, HiSET vs GED exam: What’s the difference? They may be confused you when deciding which test to take. In this blog post, we will give several key factors to take into consideration. 


In America, the test which is still the most popular and widely used High School Equivalency is GED. This test is used by many states and is issued by GED Testing Service, a joint venture of the non-profit American Council on Education (ACE) and for-profit publisher PearsonVUE.

However, the HiSET exam is also opted by many states. This test is created by America’s largest developer of educational assessment systems – non-profit ETS (Educational Testing Services).

Below is the comparison table that covers some key differences between the GED and HiSET tests. 

HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?
HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?

HiSET vs GED: What’s the main difference?

While the five subject tests of the HiSET exam are conducted in both a computer-based and a paper-and-pencil format, the four subject tests of the GED exam must be done absolutely on a computer in most states. However, there are still exceptions, for instance, the state of New Jersey requires test-takers to take all available options in a computer-based format. 

HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?
HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?


What are the requirements of the  GED vs HiSET?

Although each state has the liberty to set its qualification standards and criteria, we still see some general requirements for both the GED and HiSET exams in most states as follow: 

  • Test-takers must be at least 18 years old. If they are underage students (16 and 17 years olds), they must be officially withdrawn from high school, have parental consent, and meet more strict requirements to be allowed to take these tests.
  • Currently, students are not enrolled in high school and haven’t graduated from high school. 

What are the passing scores for the HiSET vs GED?

When you successfully pass both the GED and HiSET exams, you can obtain your state’s HSE (high school equivalency) diploma. That credentials allow you to attend credit-bearing college courses and certainly bring you better employment opportunities. 

The scoring scale of the HiSET exam is 20. You are required to get at least 8 points on each of the five independent subtests (at least 45 points in total), of which your essay must be at least 2 sores to pass the HiSET exam. 

The scoring scale of the GED exam is 100-200 points. You must get at least 145 points on each of the four independent subtests (at least 580 in total) to pass the GED exam. 

Read more >> Major Differences between a GED vs High School Diploma

Which states offer the HiSET and the GED exam?

Many states in the U.S offers the HiSET high school equivalency exam including California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.

Every state in the U.S offers the GED exam as a high school equivalency testing option, except for New York, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, and Tennessee. 

Which is easier to pass, HiSET or GED? 

There is no straightforward answer possible to this question. Each person has a different view on whether HiSET or GED is easier. One individual may consider the test difficult, but another may feel the test less challenging and vice versa. 

Now, to get your high school equivalency diploma, you have more than one option. Just make sure that you study and prepare well for the test, you will no longer feel the HiSET and GED test hard anymore. Test-takers who are used to studying online and get acquainted with test methods probably feel comfortable with the GED (which is only offered in a computer-based model) or the computerized HiSET format. On the other hand, test takers who are not familiar with digital testing methods may feel happier to take the paper-and-pencil test format of the HiSET exam. 

Many test-takers feel that the math portion of the HiSET exam is easier than the GED math portion. But, generally, both the HiSET and GED are similar tests, and the most effective way to study for both exams is taking online practice tests. The HiSET and GED exams aim to assess your knowledge of math, science, social studies, and language arts. While the GED joins reading and writing into a single literacy test, the HiSET divides reading and writing into each independent test. Therefore, if you wonder whether you should take GED or HiSET exam, you should check out the testing format to see which one is the most suitable for you. 

To help you decide which test you should take, we will give some key differences between  each subtest of the HiSET and GED exams for your consideration as follow: 

Social Studies

The social studies subtest of the HiSET exam lasts for 70 minutes and covers the history and political science. Test-takers are also be asked about subjects such as economics, psychology, and sociology through multiple-choice questions. 

The social studies subtest of the GED exam also lasts for 70 minutes. This test will assess student’s knowledge of civics and government. U.S history and geography are other subject areas that students will be tested on. 


The 80-minute HiSET science test will assess examinees’ knowledge of science content. This test will determine how well examinees interpret scientific principles and measure their ability to apply a scientific approach to problem-solving. 

The 90-minute GED science test focuses on how well examinees can understand scientific experiments and scientific data. Examinees will also be asked for life, physical, and earth science topics on the GED science subtest. 


The mathematics subtest of the HiSET exam lasts for 90 minutes. Examinees’ understanding of mathematics concepts will be assessed through multiple-choice questions. Test-takers are also expected to solve problems involving measurements, arithmetic, estimation, and algebra. In addition, they must be able to interpret data. 

The mathematics subtest of the GED exam lasts for 115 minutes. This subtest focuses on quantitative and algebra problem-solving. Geometry and functions topics are also included in this subtest.

Language Arts

The HiSET language arts portion is divided into the HiSET reading test and the HiSET writing test. The 65-minute HiSET reading test will assess examinees’ ability to interpret information presented in written form through multiple-choice questions. The HiSET writing test lasts for 120 minutes and assesses the examinee’s ability to correct text and write a well-organized essay. This writing test consists of multiple-choice questions and an essay prompt. 

Read more >> A Comprehensive GED Test Tips for 4 GED Sections

You have 150 minutes to complete the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test, of which 45 minutes are for finishing the essay assignment. Examinees will be assessed both the reading and writing skills on this test. In addition, test-takers will be asked to complete some tasks that aim to measure your ability to correct writing errors. 

HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?
HiSET vs GED exam: What is the difference?

What are the costs of the HiSET vs GED?

The Educational Testing Service administers the costs of the HiSET exam which vary by state. For instance, residents in Maine don’t have to pay fees to take the HiSET test; however, in North Carolina, you must pay $10.75 for computer-based subtests and $15 for paper subtests. The costs of computer-based subtests are $18.75 and paper subtests are $23 in both Illinois and Pennsylvania. But, generally, the costs of the HiSET exam in most states are around $55-$95 for all subjects.

The costs of the GED test also vary depending on location. For example, the average cost a state probably charge is $30, while the fees may be as little as $4 in Arkansas or as much as $38 in Oregon. But, the costs of the GED exam are generally around $120 for all subjects in most states. 

What are the retake policies for the HiSET vs GED?

While the HiSET tests allow examinees to take only 3 attempts each calendar year, the GED tests let the examinees take as many times as necessary over the year. In addition, for the first two retakes of the GED test, you can receive a discounted rate. Besides, many states don’t demand a waiting period for these two attempts. However, you must wait 60 days and pay the total test cost again if you need to retake the test for the fourth time. 

Where can I find GED or HiSET study materials?

There are a variety of GED or HiSET study materials on our websites. To prepare well for the test and pass it, let’s access our website, take advantage of them. You can take a variety of our free online practice tests, and learn more about GED or HiSET study guide there. 

After getting your diploma

Your High School Equivalency Credential is your ticket to a college or university. Especially, when you finished an adult education prep course through your local community college, you can easily continue your academic education at that college as you qualify for credit-bearing programs and courses. 

If you intend to join the armed forces, bear in mind that all branches of the army prefer High School Equivalency Diploma graduates over GED holders. Therefore, after you’ve earned your GED, you still might want to get a high school degree. 

When you want to go to another school, keep in mind that all institutions of higher education across the nation recognize and accept the HSE (high school equivalency) diploma.

GED – HiSET and the U.S Military

The diploma that was issued upon successful completion of the HiSET or GED exam is recognized and accepted by all local, state, and federal agencies, including the U.S military. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, the U.S military prefers high school graduates to GED holders. 

The HiSET credential is also recognized by Federal Agencies (for example, the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Job Corps) as a lawful way to obtain a U.S HSE diploma. Therefore, let’s start to get your HiSET or GED diploma and report to the armed forces!

Employers and employability

Nowadays, you are required to hold at least a high school or equivalent diploma to be able to be hired for most jobs, even at the entry level. Your high-school diploma, GED, or HiSET shows an employer that you have enough knowledge and skill needed to function properly on the job. Additionally, you can grow in your skills and knowledge and are ready to take part in training courses. 

You may be asked to show your GED diploma when applying for a job or filling a college application. However, there is a fact that not all employers know that adults have more options to earn their high school equivalency diploma in American. Currently, there are three options for states to use, including the GED (General Education Development), the HiSET (High School Equivalency Test), and the TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion). 

HiSET, GED, and higher education

If you hold a GED or HiSET diploma, you will be eligible for college and university courses. On a larger scale, there are so many advantages, this is because our nation’s and economy depend on a competitive and well-trained, and skilled labor force. And, a competitive labor force turns to people who will constantly develop their knowledge and skills. Therefore, when you follow industry-related training courses, attend continuing education programs, and earn professional certificates, you will not only enhance your professional outlook but also boost your earning potential. 

To sum up, the knowledge and skills you will be tested on the HiSET or GED exam are basically similar to each other. They only differ in the test format. Both the HiSET and GED certifications are recognized and accepted as a standard high school equivalent diploma by government agencies, universities, colleges, employers, and recruiting organizations. So, let’s take time to study and prepare for these tests right now, which help bring you to a brighter future. Visit our website to learn more about the GED study guide and take our free latest GED practice test 2021 to get ready for your exam!