Alternatives to GED HiSET and TASC

Alternatives to GED: HiSET and TASC

If you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to assume two things: first, you don’t have a high school diploma. Whatever the reason, there’s no judgment over here. Life happens.

The second thing we can assume is that you’re at least somewhat interested in getting your High School Equivalent (HSE) credential—probably, your GED—so you can increase your career opportunities and embark on an exciting career path. That’s great! But did you know that the GED test is not the only testing option out there for those who want to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma? There are now two alternatives to the GED—the HiSET and the TASC—that may be worth considering.


What is the HiSET? What is the TASC? And are they any better than the GED? Here’s what you need to know about these two testing options.

Wait, Why Are There Alternatives to the GED in the First Place?

Alright, time for some quick context. For years, passing the GED exam was the only means of earning an HSE credential. That all changed in 2014 when the GED exam underwent a major overhaul — and not necessarily for the better.

The new GED exam, created by the American Council on Education, suddenly became a lot more difficult and expensive. The creators of the GED exam also ditched its paper-based format, making it entirely computer-based. Opponents of the revision argued that these changes would create more obstacles for adult learners to earn their HSE and continue their education through a vocational school, college, or university. 

But since states are in charge of issuing the HSE credential, they are free to find alternatives to the GED. And that, friends, is how the HiSET and the TASC came into existence.

What Is the HiSET?

The HiSET, which stands for High School Equivalency Test, is an exam that gives you the chance to earn a state-issued high school equivalency credential. This credential can be used to advance your career by enrolling in higher education or becoming an apprentice. 

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Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

Governed by Educational Testing Service (ETS), the exam is currently approved by 23 states. The exam covers five subjects: reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. Each section contains 50 to 60 multiple-choice questions, plus one essay question for the writing section.

What Is the TASC?

The Test Assessing Secondary Completion test, or TASC, is another high school equivalency exam that serves as an alternative to the GED. Administered by Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), the TASC test is currently approved by 13 states.

Like the HiSET, the TASC test is available in both paper and computer-based formats. It also covers the same five core subjects.

GED vs. HISET vs. TASC – Which One Should You Take? 

The answer to this question mostly depends on where you live. Some states offer all three exams, while other states only offer one or two.

Let’s say that you have the choice between all three testing options. Which one should you take? 

The simple truth is that all three HSE exams are fairly difficult to pass. Each exam aligns with the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) for adult education, so they will likely be challenging for individuals who didn’t finish their high school education.

That being said, different testing formats suit different people. If you don’t consider yourself a computer-savvy individual, you might want to avoid the GED, which is strictly computer-based.

The TASC test has a reputation for being math-heavy, especially in algebra. So, if you’re not the best at math, you might want to go with the HiSET or the GED instead.

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How to Prepare Your HSE Exam

No matter which HSE test you ultimately decide to take, it’s important to prepare for it. Some HSE exams offer free test prep materials, so be sure to take advantage of them.

Another smart way to prepare for the exam is by looking up HSE preparation programs in your state or county. If you’re taking the TASC, you may also want to check out the Khan Academy to brush up on your mathematics.

The Takeaway

Many adults don’t realize how important a HSE credential truly is until they’re denied certain career opportunities for not having it. Applying for trade school jobs, earning a short-term job certificate, and even participating in your college’s work-study program can be negatively impacted by not having your HSE credential.

Related: What Is a Work-Study Program?

For these reasons and more, it’s nice to have alternatives to the GED exam. By taking the exam that presents the least number of obstacles, you can maximize your chances of future success.


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