A man wearing a graduation cap and toga stands in front of a building. What Is a High School Equivalency?

How to Get a High School Equivalency Diploma in 2023

For whatever reason, many people find themselves unable to obtain their high school diploma at a traditional schooling age. You can take a high school equivalency (HSE) test instead to open up more opportunities. You can also enroll in a coding bootcamp or an adult education preparation program to help you get a job after your HSE.

In this guide, you will learn what a high school equivalency diploma is, how to take the test, and other things you need to prepare. We’ve included different programs to help you meet eligibility requirements as well as high school equivalency testing options that can work for anyone. There are still opportunities for students with HSE credentials.

What Is a High School Equivalency?

A high school equivalency (HSE) test is taken by individuals aged 16 years or older who do not have a high school diploma. This certification is called an “equivalency” because it makes you qualified for postsecondary education or a job. Earning a high school equivalency diploma is proof that you have the knowledge and skills of a high school graduate.

There are several types of high school equivalency credentials. In the United States, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) showed that GED, HiSET, and TASC are some of the well-known high school equivalency credentials. In 2013, NCES data showed that about 816,213 people took the GED test, of which 76 percent passed.

Can I Still Get into College with a High School Equivalency Diploma?

Yes, you can still get into college with a high school equivalency diploma. The majority of the US universities and colleges accept HSE diploma holders, though your admission to a program will depend on the requirements. 

One of the most popular high school equivalency diplomas is the General Education Diploma (GED), which requires that you obtain a high score if you want to take college-level courses. These courses ensure graduates are able to meet additional requirements for new careers or even college credit.

Can I Go Back to High School with a High School Equivalency Diploma?

You do not need to go back to high school with a high school equivalency diploma. The HSE diploma is already equivalent to a high school diploma and is used to help you step up to the next level. You can use your HSE diploma to get accepted into a postsecondary institution of your choice or immediately look for a job where HSE is a minimum requirement.

Types of High School Equivalency Credentials

Wondering what specific high school equivalency credential suits you best? This section talks about the available HSE tests in-depth so that you can easily choose the one that fits your needs or preference. The types of high school equivalency tests include the HSED, GED, HiSET, TASC, and NDEP.

What Is an HSED?

A high school equivalency diploma (HSED) is usually directly offered by different universities and community colleges. Technical colleges like Chippewa Valley Technical College and Milwaukee Area Technical College require that you pass a test similar to GED and obtain a 0.5 health credit. 

If you are not interested in the other types of HSE credentials but would like to use your HSED for college admission, it is better to contact your preferred school directly. The cost of the test also depends on the university or college where you are taking it. To give you an idea, the total fees at Lakeshore Technical College cost between $160 to $175.

What Is a GED?

The General Education Development (GED) test is one of the most well-known HSE credentials under GED Testing Service LLC. The GED curriculum comprises four subject areas: language and arts, math, science, and social studies. The passing score for GED is 145 out of 200, though you need 165 to 174 for better chances to get into a university.

The GED rate charges $30 to $35 per subject for an in-person exam and $36 to $41 for an online exam setting. You may retake each subject a maximum of three times, and if you still fail the third time, you need to wait for 60 days before you can retake it. This is one of the most common options for students who want a nationally-recognized document.

What Is a HiSET?

The High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) is another HSE credential for adults and out-of-school youth who want to obtain an equivalent to high school diploma. It is recognized by government agencies and accepted by universities and companies. HiSET is available everywhere and can be taken at your own pace with either an on-site or online exam.

HiSET covers five subjects, including reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. Each subject costs $10.75 for online tests, while paper tests cost $15. The passing score for HiSET is 45 out of 100, and eligible students can go on to earn college degrees.

What Is a TASC?

The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) is overseen by the Data Recognition Corporation and is another type of HSE credential. The five subject areas it covers are mathematics, science, reading, writing, and social studies. The difficulty of this test is that your skills and knowledge should be up to the level of a graduating high school senior.

You need a passing score of 500 for each subject area of TASC and at least two out of eight on the essay writing test. Students can take the test in a paper-and-pencil or online setting. The cost of the TASC test is only available once you select your testing center and are ready to register, but the base price for all five subjects is $54, excluding state fees.

What Is an NEDP?

The National External Diploma Program (NDEP) is offered by CASAS and is a recognized HSE credential. It is a learning program focused on mathematics, writing, reading, and workforce readiness available to out-of-school youth and adults. Once you complete this program, you are eligible to enter college or secure employment.

Since this is a training program, there are no tests and classes to take. You will be able to earn your high school equivalency diploma by completing the tasks assigned per subject to prove your competency. Other than academic knowledge, what you will gain from NEDP includes workplace skills and awareness.

Online Training for High School Equivalency Exam

A woman writes in a notebook with other learning materials scattered around her. What Is a High School Equivalency?

Earning a high school equivalency diploma is your chance to take the next step to your goals, whether you want to study again or to land a job.

Though there are popular learning platforms, like coding bootcamps, to help you land a job, taking an HSE credential is still a good option. If you want to pass your HSE exam, it is better to be prepared for it by taking up any online training program. Some online courses are GED-focused, while others provide a general high school equivalency prep approach.

GED Live – GED Official Website

The official GED offers an online program that starts at $69, and all four subjects cost $149 if taken together. It covers all four GED test subjects, and each online class lasts for 60 to 90 minutes. The lectures are also recorded so that you can revisit them anytime you want to review them.

GED Prep – Kaplan

Kaplan is known to be one of the reliable GED test prep and practice resources. You may choose between an on-demand or a live class to learn all about the strategies that can help boost your score. Additionally, there is a money-back guarantee if you do not pass the GED exam.

GED Study Guide – Study.com

The GED Study Guide by Study.com is composed of free videos that you can watch at your own pace to help you study for the exam. Each video contains helpful tips on approaching the GED and covers all of its main subjects. There are also practice tests and quizzes that you can take to test your knowledge.

HiSET Academy Online Learning Program – Essential Education

You can enroll in the HiSET Academy Online Learning Program, which runs for six weeks and covers the five subjects of HiSET. Aside from the exam prep, this program also improves your employability skills by covering topics such as financial management, computer, and career planning. The program costs $19 per month.

High School Equivalency Test Preparation – McGraw Hill

The online program by McGraw Hill covers preparation for high school equivalency exams, as well as college and training to help you become career-ready. There are lectures and instructions for every subject and practice tests over various modules. The program takes into account grade levels nine to 12 as its core coverage in teaching each subject.

Jobs You Can Get with GED or HSED

Getting a job without a college degree is possible as long as you have other skills and credentials to make up for it. For instance, you can become a software engineer with a minimum of a bootcamp certificate or a tech vocational certificate. Below are some of the jobs that you can get with a high school completion diploma.

Career Title Minimum Education Average Salary
Computer Programmer Bootcamp Certificate $89,190
Computer Support Specialist Bootcamp Certificate / High School Diploma or equivalent $55,510
Chef and Head Cook High School Diploma or equivalent $53,380
Craft and Fine Artist High School Diploma or equivalent $49,120
Community Health Worker High School Diploma or equivalent $48,140
Machinist High School Diploma or equivalent $47,040
Financial Clerks High School Diploma or equivalent $41,520
Security Guard High School Diploma or equivalent $31,080
Retail Sales Worker High School Diploma or equivalent $27,320
Childcare Worker High School Diploma or equivalent $25,460

Is a High School Equivalency Right for You?

Yes, a high school equivalency is a good option for you if you aim to qualify for a four-year college program or a new job. The college admissions process looks into your educational background to know your skills and capabilities. A high school equivalency diploma is proof of your qualification up to a certain level to qualify for college.

On the other hand, a high school equivalency will also help you land a job and meet employability skills requirements. Jobs like computer programmer, chef, childcare worker, and more require a high school diploma or equivalent before applying. A high school equivalency certificate opens up new opportunities, whether it’s an education program or a lifetime career.

High School Equivalency FAQs

Is GED and high school equivalency the same?

Yes, they are the same. GED is one type of high school equivalency diploma or credential. Once you pass this exam, you are eligible to apply for a college or land a job, and you can treat this certificate like a high school diploma.

What is the difference between a high school diploma and equivalency?

The high school equivalency diploma is the same as a high school diploma. However, an HSED is obtained after you have dropped out of high school. A high school diploma is earned through a continuous high school education until graduation.

Is GED or HiSET better?

The majority of college applicants take the GED, but HiSET is also an equally reliable high school equivalency credential. GED covers four core subjects, while HiSET covers five though their only difference is that the latter separates writing and reading for language arts.

How can I get a high school diploma equivalent?

You need to meet the minimum age requirement of 16 and should have been out of school for several months. You may opt to study independently or take a program in online schools or other education platforms. The most important part is you need to pass all required tests of your chosen HSE credential by meeting the passing score.

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