If you found that high school wasn’t for you or didn’t work for you, then you may have considered taking a high school equivalency exam in order to show that you have the knowledge that you would have learned in high school. The most common tests that people can take are the GED or the high school equivalency test. This article will break down the main differences between these tests and discuss how these tests differ from a high school diploma.
Is a GED the Same as a High School Equivalency Diploma?
If traditional high school isn’t for you, for whatever reason, then you may find yourself looking for something to show that you have a good grasp of the knowledge that you would have been tested on throughout high school. This test result will be sent to any future educational institutions that you wish to attend and will be treated similarly to how a high school diploma would be treated.
There are a few test options out there, but the biggest two are the GED and the High School Equivalency Test, or HiSET. Although both tests cover math, reading/writing, social science, and science, they are not the same test. Both tests will take around seven hours to complete and can be taken in sections or all at once, but where each test is given and who accepts each test is different.
In general, the GED is the most common equivalent to a high school diploma. The GED test is the same all across the nation and is offered in over 80% of US states. This is generally a good option if you want to attend a traditional 4-year college program since this test is the most widely accepted alternative to a high school diploma.
The HiSET is not offered in nearly as many states and is not as widely accepted, mostly because it is not as well known as the GED. If you are able to take the HISET in your area and are planning on attending a trade school, community college, or something equivalent to those, then the HISET might be right for you. The HISET is not standardized across the country, though, so you may want to take it in the area that you will be attending school.
What is GED?
The GED, or the General Education Development test, is a common test used to signify that an individual has the knowledge and critical thinking skills that they would be expected to have learned in a traditional high school program without attending any high school completion. This is a standardized test and is offered in over 80% of US states, making it a well-accepted alternative to a conventional high school diploma.
The GED is seven and a half hours long and consists of four sections. The sections cover reading/writing, social studies, math, and science. You could take all four sections in one day or break them up and take them on different days; either is completely fine.
The test will give you passages to read and questions to answer, but all will require critical thinking skills to provide the right answer. The test is not meant to be easy since it tests you on all the knowledge you would have received from a traditional high school setting. Most states require you to be at least 18 to take the GED, but some states do have a lower age limit.
What is a High School Equivalency Diploma?
The High School Equivalency Diploma is what you receive for passing the High School Equivalency Test, commonly referred to as the HISET. Like the GED, this seven hour-long test covers the traditional subjects that you would have taken in a traditional high school setting.
Unlike the GED, the HISET is not standardized across the country, making it a challenging test to take in one location and use in another. This is a great option if you want to take the test in the same place you plan to attend school. The HISET is not offered in as many states as the GED, so it can be a little more challenging to find.
To receive your HSED, you will need to take your HISET and complete a little extra coursework. This is meant to simulate the longer-term assignments that you would have had to manage in a traditional high school setting.
Some branches of the military and some colleges prefer the HSED over the GED since it has more requirements, but this test is not nearly as widely available as the GED, so either test will do in most situations. If possible, it’s best to check with your future educational institution or employer to see which of the two tests they would prefer that you take. Most institutions have some sort of preference, so, if possible, it is best to take the test that they prefer.
Which is Better? GED or High School Diploma?
Unfortunately, there is no real answer to which one is better, a GED or a high school diploma. Both are great on paper, and they signify the amount of knowledge and critical thinking skills you have gained. That being said, there is still a stigma against less traditional educational paths in many places, meaning that there still are likely to be people who say that a high school diploma is always better than a GED.
The theory that one is always better than the other is flawed, though since a student could do amazing on their GED and have really understood the knowledge, they were tested on, while a student could also have their high school diploma having barely gotten by and having no grasp of the knowledge. The opposite is also true. As the US slowly shifts away from sorting people based solely on test scores, these achievements are likely to become more and more comparable.
Ultimately, it is still better overall to get your traditional high school diploma, but there are ways to make a GED just as good as a high school diploma. The test or certificate is only as good as the person that it was given to, so just remember that it isn’t the piece of paper that makes you worth something, but it is you who makes the piece of paper worth something.
Is a GED as Good as a High School Diploma?
Having a GED is not held as highly as a high school diploma but can be used to apply to colleges, enlist in the military, and apply for jobs. Since there is a movement towards making high education more accommodating of students from a variety of backgrounds, it is possible that equivalency tests, like the GED, will become more accepted and more prevalent.
Throughout high school, students are expected to balance a lot of coursework and assignments. This is not something that can be simulated fully in a test environment, meaning that while someone with their GED may have the knowledge that would be expected of a high school graduate, they may or may not have the same skill base.
The other challenge with a GED is the stereotypes that can be associated with students who take the GED. Many places assume that someone who takes the GED was likely kicked out of traditional high school or dropped out for whatever reason, and while this can be the case, more and more students are finding that creating an educational path tailored to their needs can only be met by a less traditional education, such as receiving a GED.
Do Colleges Accept GED?
The short answer is yes; colleges do accept a GED instead of a traditional high school diploma, meaning that, on paper, a GED is as good as a high school diploma. In terms of how likely you are to get into a college or university with a GED instead of a high school diploma is totally situationally dependent. Some universities may have a similar acceptance rate for students with a high school diploma and students with a GED, but some schools may have different rates for the two categories of students.
When thinking about if a university will accept a GED, the other thing to consider is that many colleges and universities don’t technically require their students to have a high school diploma. Most students will have a high school diploma or GED, but this is not mandatory at many schools.
Remember that universities tend to use tests such as the ACT or the SAT as admissions tests, meaning that if you test well on that test, it doesn’t really matter to the university if you went to high school or have your GED. This, however, is likely to change as more and more universities start to become test-optional. Since the trend in university acceptance is more towards looking at the potential students as a whole and less as a test number, all of this is constantly in flux.
5 Key Difference Between High School Equivalency and GED
These are some key differences between taking a high school equivalency test and the GED.
The HISET has some extra requirements that the GED doesn’t have. These requirements can be covered by either extra coursework that you can take through your testing center or by having existing high school credits in the subjects needed. You will generally need credits in health, civics, and employment, although requirements can vary based on where you take the test.
The civics requirement can be met by either a few high school social studies courses or a 30-hour course. The health requirement is the same. To fulfill the employment requirement, you will be expected to participate in a short course and create a working resume.
The GED and the HISET both test you on science, math, and social studies, but the difference comes in how they test writing and reading. On the GED, reading and writing are combined into one section, while on the HISET, they are tested as a reading section and a writing section. This makes the GED a four-section test and the HISET a five-section test.
The GED is available in over 80% of US states and is offered in many locations across each of these states, making it widely available to most of the population. By contrast, the HISET is only offered in a few states, but the number is growing as the test grows in popularity across the country.
Standardized all across the US
The GED is a standardized test, meaning that there is only one GED test given out all across the country in any given year. The HISET, on the other hand, is standardized in the subjects it tests the students on, but not in the exact material each test covers. Ultimately, the material covered on the HISET will vary depending on where in the country you take the test, making a more locationally dependent exam.
Age requirements differ
Both tests generally require the students who take them to be at least 18, but each test has different age requirements for each state, making it hard to make a general statement about which test allows students to take it at a younger age. Generally, you must be at least 16 to take either test, but the specific age will depend on what state you are taking the test in.
Wrapping Things Up: High School Equivalency Diploma vs. GED
While the GED and the HiSET are meant to be able to stand in for a traditional high school diploma and function as one in both the workforce and in higher education, there are some functional differences between these equivalency exams and a high school diploma. Overall, the GED is a more widely available test that is accepted in most places that a high school diploma would be accepted, but the HiSET has more requirements and can often be used to meet stricter prerequisites than the GED. Although neither is a perfect substitute for a high school diploma, both are great ways to show the knowledge and critical thinking skills you have.