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Understanding GED® Test Scores

By Lisa Marie Barsotti, Educator

Do you plan to take a high school equivalency test soon? You probably have some questions. How is the exam is scored? What do your GED test results mean? What score will you need to earn your diploma?

Your score will depend on the test you take. Depending on your state, you can take the GED test, the HiSET exam, or the TASC test. When you pass (and you will!), your state will issue your diploma. The three tests have a lot of similarities, but they have very different scoring systems.

GED Test Scores

The GED test has four subject areas: Mathematical Reasoning, Science, Social Studies, and Reasoning Through Language Arts. The RLA section includes both reading and writing. On each test, you’ll receive a score between 100 and 200. You need a score of 145 on each test to pass and earn your GED diploma.

The GED test has three passing score levels. Between 145 and 164 is a GED Passing Score. At this level, you will earn your GED credential. Between 165 and 174 is a GED College Ready score. This score shows that you have the skills to take college classes. It can help you get into college or training programs. Between 175 and 200 is a GED College Ready + Credit score. Depending on your college, you may get up to 3 free credits per subject area based on this score!

HiSET Exam Scores

The HiSET exam has five tests: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts—Reading, and Language Arts—Writing. For each test, you’ll get a score from 1 to 20. To pass the whole exam, you need at least 8 out of 20 on each test. However, your total score for all five tests must be at least 45, an average of 9 on each test.

On the HiSET test, you’ll also get a separate score for the essay. You need to score 2 out of 6 on the essay test to pass, even if you have a passing score on the whole writing test.

TASC Test Scores

On the TASC test, there also are five subject areas: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Language Arts—Reading, and Language Arts—Writing. In each subject, scores range from 300 to 800. To pass, you need at least 500 in each subject. On the writing test, you’ll also receive a separate score for the essay. You need to score 2 out of 8 on the essay to pass the writing test.

Essay Scoring

Each exam has its own essay. On the GED test, the essay is called an Extended Response. You won’t get a separate score, but the essay will add to your RLA test score.

For the Extended Response, you will read a passage or passages and write about what you read. A computer-based Automated Scoring Engine gives an initial score for your essay. How well is your essay organized? Did you answer the prompt? Did you stick to a main idea? Did you include details and examples to back up what you're saying? The essay also needs good grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and word choice.

Basically, your GED essay score is based on:

  • How well can you make your point, remain on-topic and focused, and create an impression with your words and ideas?
  • Do you have a good basic command of the language and its structure? Is your use of language easy to understand?
  • How well can you analyze arguments and use evidence?

The HiSET exam and TASC test will also ask you to read passages and write an essay about them. You’ll need to use evidence and examples in your essay. For the TASC test, you’ll either need to write an argumentative or an informational essay.

The scoring is based on similar criteria:

  • Do you have and develop a good central or main idea? Do you give evidence that connects to your main idea?
  • Do you have a good introduction and conclusion?
  • Do you use good word choice and language?
  • Do you use good grammar, word usage, spelling, and capitalization?

On the HiSET essay, you’ll receive a score from 1 to 6. You’ll need to score at least a 2 to pass the test, but a higher score can help raise your whole writing test score. On the TASC essay, your score will be between 0 and 8. You need to score at least 2 out of 8 to pass the TASC writing test.

What's the Pass/Fail Rate?

Pass rates are a little different each year and for each test. Typically, at least two out of three people who take HSE tests pass. The better prepared you are for the HiSET, TASC, or GED test, the greater your chances of doing well.

Passing an HSE test isn’t like rolling dice. It’s not a random 70% or 80% of test-takers who pass. To make sure you will pass, first find out what you need to study. A free online practice test is a good start. It will help you create a study plan. Take a full practice test when you think you are ready. That way, you can be confident in passing your test.

What's the Most DIfficult Part of the Test?

How hard are the HSE subject tests? That depends on your HSE test prep, as well as your abilities and skills. For most people, the math test is the most difficult. For others, the writing test seems harder.

Almost everyone needs some preparation to be ready for the GED, TASC, or HiSET test. The tests contain some material you may have forgotten. Find out what you need to review and spend some time in a good study program. You can pass every subject.

Author’s Recommendations:

Understanding GED® Test Scores by Lisa Marie Barsotti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United Stated License, redistribution of this article is allowed under the following terms outlined here.

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