High School Equivalency 2021 Guide

High School Equivalency: 2021 Guide

Do you want to advance your career, but you don’t have a high school diploma? A high school equivalency credential proves you have the same capabilities as high school graduates. In this guide, we’ll look at the different high school equivalency exams in detail to help you choose the right one for you.

What Are High School Equivalency Exams?

High school equivalency exams are state-issued certificate exams. They are designed to provide people who were not able to get a high school diploma with equivalent credentials. 

Upon passing the exam, you will receive a high school equivalency certificate, also known as a high school equivalency diploma (HSED). This helps you gain employment or continue with your education.

There are now four high school equivalency testing options. These are the General Education Development Test (GED), High School Equivalency Test (HiSET), Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), or National External Diploma Program (NEDP). The exams generally consist of a mixture of multiple-choice and essay-style questions.

Why Are High School Equivalency Exams Important?

High School Equivalency exams are important for learners of any age to continue their education and advance their careers. Once you pass the exam, you will meet the federal education requirements needed to continue your postsecondary education. You can apply for a variety of jobs and even join the military. 

Many students that don’t do well in a traditional education setting or prefer different learning styles take advantage of this option. They are also a good option for people who have migrated to the US to get the recognized credentials they need.

What Are Employers and Colleges Looking For?

Many employers and colleges look for a GED or basic educational qualifications in potential candidates. A high school equivalency certificate proves you have the same level of educational knowledge as a high school graduate. It shows you’ll be capable of participating in job training and can perform tasks to the same level. 

Companies place a lot of importance on having this standard of education. Most industries and employers won’t interview candidates who can’t demonstrate high school education or equivalent. 

Having a high school equivalency certificate not only demonstrates that you are as competent as high school graduates, it also shows your dedication and interest in continued learning. 

Types of High School Equivalency Exams

To get a high school equivalency credential, there are four types of exams in the US. These are HiSET, GED, TASC, and NEDP. Below you will find a detailed description of each of these exams.

HiSET

You can earn your equivalency credential through the High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) exam. The exam has five parts and takes approximately seven hours. You can take it online or as a paper exam in person at local testing centers, in English or Spanish. The test proves you meet the skills required for mathematics, science, social studies, and language.

The passing score for the exam is 45 percent for all of the sections combined. In each of the subset exams, you must score 8 out of 20 or higher. You must also score at least 2 out of 6 on the writing test.

Cost

If you’re taking the exam online, you’ll need to pay $10.75 for each of the five exams. This cost covers the exam, scoring, and reporting. For the in-person paper exam, the price is $15 per exam. 

Requirements

The requirements for taking the HiSET exam differ between states. Although it is not mandatory to be a US citizen to be eligible for the HiSET test, many locations require state residency. There may be other requirements for your age, school enrollment status, and identification. Check your state requirements for the HiSET before enrolling in an exam.

States That Accept the HiSET

The following states and territories accept HiSET test scores.

  • American Samoa
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Marshall Islands
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Palau
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wyoming

GED

You may have heard of the General Education Development test or GED. But what is a GED? GED is the most popular high school equivalency test. This test consists of four subtests. These are mathematical reasoning, reasoning through language, social studies, and science. Each subtest lasts between 70 and 150 minutes. 

Official practice tests are called GED Ready Practice Tests and are available for $6 per subject. These can be helpful to prepare for the tests. You can take the test at a testing center or online, either opting to take all four subjects at the same time or one by one. 

The minimum score to pass the GED test is 145 out of 200 in each subtest. You’ll be scored as either “pass”, “college-ready”, or “college-ready plus credit”. A score between 165-174 means you are college-ready. If you score higher than 174, you may be able to earn some college credit requirements.

Cost

The price varies from state to state, ranging from $0 to $40. Check the exam costs and requirements for each state before enrolling. The exam registration fee usually covers everything and includes two free retakes for each subject.

Requirements

GED exams have state-specific eligibility requirements and restrictions. Common criteria include age, state residency, and retake policies. It may or may not be mandatory for you to take a GED class and practice test before the test. Your state Department of Education can provide more details on GED requirements. 

States That Accept the GED

Most US states accept the GED, for specifics you can examine the list below.

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • American Samoa
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Mariana Islands 
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • 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
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

TASC

The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) is a national high school equivalency assessment for adult learners. It measures the examinee’s competency compared to graduating high school seniors based on the College and Career Readiness (CCR) standards. 

The test subjects include language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. It is available in English and Spanish, in both paper and online formats. You can access sample TASC test questions online to help you prepare.

You’ll need to pass each subject with at least 500 points out of 800. You must also score at least two out of eight points on the writing essay. Doing well in mathematics and languages can earn you a “distinguished achievement” score. 

Cost

The price for the TASC exam depends on the local testing center in your state. The price includes the test, two free retests, scoring, and reporting. Some locations also have additional fees.

Requirements

You must be 16 years or older to take the TASC exam. You should also contact your state’s Department of Education to check the state requirements for taking the TASC exam. They may have their own criteria relating to age, residency, and time since leaving education.

States That Accept the TASC

The four states that accept the TASC are listed below.

  • Indiana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • West Virginia

NEDP

The National External Diploma Program (NEDP) is different from the other tests mentioned in this article. It is a hands-on learning program that consists of practical projects. These projects demonstrate a student’s ability in reading, writing, mathematics, oral communication, and critical thinking. They also help students to create an online portfolio to help them get career-ready.

The program is designed to demonstrate a person has the high school level of academic skills along with general life skills. You can complete the program at your own pace from home and most learners finish within six months. 

It also tests students on seven functional life skills. They are civic literacy and community participation, consumer awareness and financial literacy, cultural literacy, geography and history, health literacy, science, and twenty-first-century workplace.

Cost

The cost varies per agency and program. There is no standard price across the country, but it tends to average at about $200. After completing the NEDP program, there are a few CASAS scholarships available to graduates to continue their education and get a degree.

Requirements

If you want to earn an NEDP, you first need to find an accredited NEDP agency near you as you will need to be able to attend regular face-to-face appointments. You can find out more about its regulations and procedures on its website.

States That Accept the NEDP

There are 89 NEDP agencies across nine US states that accept the NEDP test. We’ve listed the states that accept NEDP below.

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Maryland
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Should I Get My High School Equivalency?

If you do not have a high school diploma, you should get a high school equivalency. It is a useful credential if you’re hoping to develop your career or further your education. This certificate is issued by your state and accepted as an official document by colleges and companies. 

Can I Still Go Back to High School?

It can be challenging to go back to a postsecondary institution and earn a diploma because the requirements vary across the states. You need to check with your state’s Department of Education to understand the restrictions that apply. While equivalencies might not give you the high school experience, they prove your capabilities to the same standards as a diploma.

What Are My Career and Educational Goals?

It is crucial that you consider your future goals to make an informed decision about pursuing a high school equivalency certificate. Your career and educational plans have a major influence on this decision. 

Most jobs require a high school standard education at minimum or even an academic degree. This means that having an equivalency will be valued by employers. It is also recommended if you want to be considered for promotions. 

However, high school diplomas are not necessary to succeed in every career path. For example, you can acquire the needed skills to become a software developer, web developer, or data scientist without a college degree. Online bootcamps are also a great way for aspiring learners to advance their careers.

Which Exam Is Right for Me?

To choose which high school equivalency test is right for you, you must check that you meet the requirements. Check with your local Department of Education to find out the different restrictions and costs of the tests in your state.

Start by checking if the exam is available in your location. Evaluate the eligibility requirements and ensure you meet them. HiSET and GED are standard for high school dropouts. TASC is not widely available. These are more feasible if you do not have six to 12 months to work on the NEDP program.

NEDP is tailored for professionals with a little more life and work experience. It can be seen as more of an adult education program. While it requires a longer time commitment, it is flexible and accommodates your schedule. You can also complete it from the comfort of your home.

The Bottomline

A high school equivalency exam can be a great substitute for a high school diploma. You should consider the availability, price, and restrictions of the different test options in your state. It’s also a great idea to check which exams your local college or potential employers accept. 

You can use a high school equivalency to pursue further study or a new career. Testing institutes and preparatory centers provide plenty of resources and practice tests to help you prepare accordingly. With one exam, you can take great steps forward in your future.

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