How Hard Is the GED® Test?

When someone asks how hard the GED, HiSET, or TASC test is, they usually really have two questions: Can I pass? What do I need to do? The truth is that anyone can earn a high school equivalency (HSE) diploma, and it doesn’t need to be hard.

There used to be only one high school alternative—the GED® Test. But now, depending on where you live, your state could offer one or more tests: the GED test, HiSET® Exam, or TASC test. 

What is on the GED, HiSET, or TASC test?

The GED, HiSET, and TASC each cover math, reading, writing, science, and social studies. On the GED test, reading and writing are on one test, called Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA). The HiSET exam and TASC test have separate reading and writing sections.

All together, you may spend more than 7 hours taking the whole exam. But don’t worry! You can take each subject separately. It’s often the best strategy to prepare in one or two areas, on subjects that are easiest for you, take those tests, and then move on to the next subject. 

The science, social studies, and reading subjects test your ability to read and understand text, pictures, and charts. That means that you can accomplish a lot with a few core skills that really aren’t that hard to learn. 

The math test requires basic number skills plus geometry, algebra, data, and statistics. The writing portion of the test includes questions on grammar and spelling as well as an essay, which involves reading some text and writing about what you’ve read. 

Most of the test will be multiple choice, but computer-based tests will also include drag-and-drop, drop-down, and other types of questions. A little well-designed test prep will help you easily pass your HSE test. You can take a free practice test to understand what you need to study, and then focus on building your knowledge in a few key areas that you need to improve.

How does the test compare to high school?

High school is four years of classroom work. It builds a wonderful store of knowledge and skills. If you have the chance to finish high school, it’s an important achievement. For those who can’t finish high school, the GED, HiSET or TASC test is an unbeatable alternative.

But what you really want to know is, how hard is the test, compared to high school. The big difference is that the GED, HiSET, or TASC test is just that—a test. It tests your ability to apply the most important high school skills. In a way, that’s easier. It’s one test, not four years of study. The reason some people find it difficult is because they haven’t found really good HiSET, TASC, or GED prep study program. Good prep means that (unlike a classroom) you can take as much time as you need. Concepts are explained well so that you can understand. With good test prep, the GED, HISET or TASC test can be fast and easy.

What are passing GED, HiSET and TASC test scores?

The GED test scores range from 100 to 200 on each test. Passing the GED test requires a score of at least 145 on each subject test. What does that mean? Well, the GED test isn't really scored by percentage or the number you get right. The number of questions you need to get right varies, but if you're getting 60% to 70% correct on GED practice test questions, you're probably near a passing score.

The passing score for the HiSET exam is 8 out of 20 on each subject and 2 out of 6 on the essay. You need a total score of at least 45 out of 100 (so it's safer to say you want 9 out of 20 in each subject). On the TASC test, the scores range from 300 to 800. You need to score 500 on each subject and 2 out of 8 on the essay.

How difficult is the test?

It can be fast and easy, with a little preparation. You do need to brush up on your skills in math, writing, reading, social studies and science, and target your study to what you need to improve on for the test. 

  • Know What to Study. Make a study list of skills you need to review, based on the high school equivalency test that you'll take. 
  • Take Your Time. Find a study program that goes at your own speed, so you can make sure you learn well.
  • Find Prep That's Right for You. If a study program isn't explaining things well, so that you understand, it's the wrong program. You should find a study program that explains the concepts clearly.

How can I get my GED certificate?

Some employers offer HiSET, TASC, or GED test prep programs or basic skills classes. Also, most communities offer low-cost or even free classes through a local high school, family resource center, community college, or university.

For many adult learners, local in-person GED, HiSET, or TASC test classes aren't possible and can conflict with schedules, jobs, or family obligations. For these adult learners, online classes are the best option. Others find that online study programs and online practice tests help them most.

You have many study options. The trick is finding the study program that’s right for you. Remember, look for test prep that lets you go at your own pace and explains things so that you understand.

One thing to keep in mind when looking for classes online, is to be aware of websites that sell bogus high school diplomas or fake GED online certificates. Before enrolling make sure it’s a legitimate study program for the GED, HiSET, or TASC test by checking they are approved by the testing service.


    Leonard Williams, Educator


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