Get a GED or High School Equivalency

Check With Your State About New GED Rules

Young adult working on homework in her bedroom.

The Big Picture

Since 1942, the General Educational Development (GED) test has been the standard way to prove you have knowledge equivalent to that of a high school graduate, without earning a high school diploma. New rules in 2014 eliminated the option to take the paper GED test and increased the cost, which prompted many states to offer alternatives to the GED. In general, the GED and similar certifications are called “high school equivalency” tests.

Where to Start: Types of High School Equivalency Tests

There are three tests for those who want to earn a high school equivalency certification. Some states offer all three, while other states offer only one. Contact your state’s department of education to find out which tests are available and if you can get funding to take the test for free or at a reduced price. All tests are administered in person at authorized testing facilities and require you to schedule your test in advance.

GED: The Pearson GED exam took effect in 2014. It’s a computer-only test that costs $120. Some states cover the entire cost of the test for you, while others require you to pay the $120 plus administration fees to get a GED.

TASC: The Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) is sponsored by McGraw-Hill and Data Recognition Corporation/CTB. Prices vary by state. For example, the TASC is free in New York and West Virginia, and the cost is capped at $90 in Indiana (although costs vary depending on testing site).

HiSET: The HiSET, a high school equivalency test created by Educational Testing Service (ETS), is available in many states. Some states offer HiSET as their only high school equivalency test. The HiSET is free in some states (such as Maine) and costs up to $220 at certain testing centers in California.

Who Can Help: How to Know Which High School Equivalency Test to Take

To find out which tests are available in your state:

  1. Look up your state name and “department of education.”
  2. Search your state’s department of education website for “high school equivalency” or “GED.”
  3. Note that some states have special names for their tests, such as the Indiana High School Equivalency (HSE), which is administered by TASC.
  4. If your state’s department of education has a phone number or email, write down some questions that you have about getting your high school equivalency and then call or email your state directly. [See What to Ask below for some sample questions.]
  5. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on your state’s website, call 2-1-1 from anywhere in the United States or visit www.211.org and enter your zip code or city and state. Select the Jobs + Support section to find local educational opportunities.

Things to Know: Save Up to Get a GED or High School Equivalency Test

If you live in a state with high fees, it might feel daunting to save the money to get a GED or other high school equivalency test. You can do it by spreading out your savings over a longer stretch of time. Let’s look at how much you would have to save every day if you spread your goal out over six months:

high school equivalency test list and how much money to save to pay for it

Breaking your goal down like this makes saving easier. If you’re sitting on a $0 bank account, you probably still will be able to find $0.67 by digging under the couch cushions or checking pockets in your laundry pile.

Scams to Avoid: Don’t Pay if You Don’t Have To

Before you sign up to take a high school equivalency test, check with your state’s department of education or call 2-1-1 (www.211.org) to ask about special programs. Many states will pay for all or part of your testing and preparation materials.

What to Ask

  • Which high school equivalency tests are offered in my state?
  • Do I need to have lived in the state for a certain amount of time before I can take a high school equivalency test?
  • If more than one test is offered, what are the differences in the tests? What would be the reasons to choose one test over another?
  • How much does it cost to take a high school equivalency test in my state?
  • How often is the test offered and how far in advance do I need to schedule my test?
  • How long does the test typically take?
  • What practice and study materials are available for free? What materials are available to purchase?
  • Can I retake the test? How many times can I retake it? Is there an additional cost every time I take the test?
  • What can I bring with me to the test, and what is not allowed?
  • How do I get my test results? How long does it take to get my test results?

Tools to Use: Preparing to Get a GED or High School Equivalency

You can access study materials on the testing websites, although there might be a purchase required, so check with your state’s department of education before committing to anything. Your state might pay for all or part of your testing and study materials.

GED Study Materials (www.gedmarketplace.com)

TASC Study Materials (www.tasctest.com/preparation-materials-for-test-takers)

HiSET Study Materials (https://hiset.ets.org/prepare/overview)