High School Equivalency Credentials: A Closer Look at the HiSET®

If you didn’t finish high school, you can still demonstrate that you have the same skills and knowledge as a high school graduate through a test.

This test is called a high school equivalency (HSE) credential. For many years, Ohio only offered the GED® exam, but in 2017, the Ohio Department of Education approved three HSE testing assessment options for adult learners: GED, TASC®, and HiSET®.

As part of our series on the new high school equivalency offerings, we’re taking a closer look at the HiSET.

COST: $90
The State of Ohio offers an $80 voucher, reducing the cost to just $10 for first time test takers. This is the least expensive HSE option currently on the market.

METHOD OF ASSESSMENT: Both paper/pencil, as well as computerized
Test takers even have the option of mixing and matching by subject area. For example, math can be done on a computer, while the essay could be completed using paper and pencil.

Computer testing asks the same questions as the paper/pencil test but does have some different features:

  • An on-screen calculator for math
  • Word processing software with insert, delete, cut, paste and undo features for essay portion
  • A special toolbar with Spanish-language characters for the essay
  • A help button and a timer so you can budget your time
  • A mark and skip feature that lets you bypass a question and return to it later
  • A review tool that tells you which questions you still need to answer


  • Reading: 50 multiple choice questions, 65 minutes
  • Writing: 60 multiple choice questions, 1 essay question, 120 minutes
  • Math: 55 multiple choice questions, 90 minutes
  • Science: 60 multiple choice questions, 80 minutes
  • Social Studies: 60 multiple choice questions, 70 minutes

SCORES: Range from 0 to 20
To pass, a total of 45 points are required. Each section must receive a score of at least 8, with a minimum of 2 out of 6 for the essay. Unlike some HSE tests, the HiSET is scored by a human being.

Students who complete the computerized version of the HiSET will get an unofficial score (excluding the Writing score) before they leave the test center. Those that take the paper/pencil version will have to wait for official scores — which can take up to 5 business days from the day the test center submits your answers to the test publishers.

Scores are not sent in the mail, they are only available through a student’s HiSET Account online.

TEST LENGTH: 7 hours, 5 minutes
The primarily multiple choice test is the shortest of the HSEs.

Educational Testing Service (ETS), the world’s largest private nonprofit educational testing assessment organization. In 1947, they began working on the development of the then-groundbreaking Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT®). Since then, they’ve also developed the GRE®, the world’s most widely administered graduate-level admissions test, and the TOEFL®, the standard for English-language tests for admissions use worldwide, among others.

Read more in our series of HSE blogs.

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