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Another path to reach a high school diploma

Graduation Ceremony

Minnesota has added an additional path to secondary (high school) credentials. Similar to the General Educational Development (GED) test, students can now use the HiSET exams as an assessment-based path to credentials. For years, Minnesota has had multiple paths for a person to complete their high school credential including programs such as Credit Recovery Diplomas and the Minnesota Adult Diploma that attempt to recapture the work and evidence of “skills mastery” through a learner portfolio. For students who are just a couple “of credits” from graduation, or conversely, have big gaps in their skills, the diploma process may be the best option. For students who lack credits but have the general skills to pass the exams, testing out through the GED or HiSET exams may be the best route.  Minnesota currently has several test centers open for the HiSET with more coming. Metro North ABE intends to open its current testing centers to HiSET test clients this summer.


For this article, we will look exclusively at the exam pathway and compare/contrast the new HiSET option and the GED exam.


One significant difference lies in the content covered by each test. The GED consists of four subjects: Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies. On the other hand, the HiSET comprises five subjects: Language Arts – Reading, Language Arts – Writing, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. While the GED combines language arts into one section, the HiSET separates reading and writing into distinct components.


The format of the two tests also varies. Both GED and HiSET offer computer-based and paper-based testing options. However, the GED is primarily delivered in a computer-based format, whereas the HiSET offers more flexibility, allowing test-takers to choose between computer-based and paper-based tests for each subject. This flexibility caters to the diverse preferences and needs of individuals.


Scoring systems differ between the GED and HiSET. The GED uses a scoring range of 100 to 200 points for each subject, with a passing score of 145 for each subject and an overall passing score of 580. In contrast, the HiSET employs a scale of 1 to 20 for each subject, with a passing score of 8 for each component and an overall passing score of 45. The scoring variations reflect differences in the assessment models and how proficiency is measured.


Both the GED and HiSET are widely recognized by employers and educational institutions as equivalent to a traditional high school diploma. However, recognition may vary, and individuals need to verify the acceptance of either credential for their specific needs.