What's the difference between the GED and HiSET Exams?  Which one should I take?



Completion of either the GED or the HiSET in Massachusetts will earn a state issued High School Credential.  No matter which test you decide to take,  a high school credential will open up doors for college,  and career paths.


Students should compare the tests to determine which is the better choice for them.  




GED and HiSET Comparison Chart








  Total Cost:





  Number of 





(Language Arts,  Math, Science, Social Studies)




(LA Writing, LA Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies)

  Total Test Time:


7 hours, 5 minutes


7 hours, 5 minutes







Paper and Computer 


Testers have the option to select either format for every test.  Paper and Computer appointments must be scheduled separately.




Used for 3 Tests:


Math, Social Studies and Science


Used for Math Test only






 Language Arts Test:


The Extended Response is one of three timed sections. Testers will have 45 minutes to complete their response.   



Score for the Extended Response is calculated into the LA score.   




Science Test:


Contains 2 "Short  Response" Questions 



LA/Writing Test.


The Essay is one section of the Writing test.  You are allowed to go back and forth between the Essay and the multiple choice section throughout the entire test.  






You must pass the Essay with a least 2 points.  










Only the LA/Writing test has a writing requirement.  




For more information about each test, please go directly to the vendor's website:


These sites cover information on: test content, preparation, registration, test appointments, applying for Special Accomodations and more.



When will scores expire?


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has announced that all HiSET and GED scores will remain valid until at least December 31, 2020.  This includes HiSET scores that were earned between 2014 - 2016.




Are there special requirements if I am under 18 years old?


Yes.   If you are 16 or 17 years old, the Letter of Withdrawal from the last school you attended must be approved by DESE,  before you can schedule a testing appointment.  Go to  the  Massachusetts DESE website and follow the steps listed there.   


Do I have to take classes in order to take the HiSET or GED test?


No. Classes are not required, but our Learning Center offers them for Greater Lowell residents.  Our experienced staff can help students prepare and decide when they are ready to test.



What formats are available for the tests? 


  • For HiSET, we offer both paper and computer based testing.  You can select either option for each subject test. 
  • The GED test is computer based only.



What languages are available for the tests?


At our Test Center, we only offer the tests in English.  




Are Special Accommodations available?


 Yes.  Testers with documented disabilities or health related needs, need to apply directly to the test vendor to request special accommodations.  


When are the testing dates?


See our Testing Schedule for specific dates. 


Weekday appointments are long enough to take one subject test.   

During testing weekends (Friday night and Saturday), there is enough time to schedule all subject tests for both GED and HiSET.  


What identification can be used for the tests?



Only current, government issued photo ID will be accepted, such as:   



  • Passport
  • Driver’s license from any state
  • State-issued ID card
  • National ID card
  • Military ID card


  *We CAN NOT accept photocopies, ID that has expired,  or ID that does not match the Account name.   You must bring your ID to each test session.*



What else do I need know before testing?



  • HiSET Candidates will need to complete a Massachusetts Eligibility form.   *If you are under 18, this form must also be signed by your parent or guardian.  (For GED candidates, the Massachusetts Eligibility Form is completed on-line during registration.)


  • It is helpful to bring your Test Appointment Confirmation.



  • The Test Center will supply all necessary testing items, including a handheld calculator.




  • There is limited storage space available.   We recommend that you bring as few personal items as possible. All electronic items will be collected and returned to you when you are finished.