Earning your GED or an equivalent can help you earn more money and allow you to further your education. There are multiple options to earn a high school diploma equivalent, each with their own strengths.
Why Earn Your GED?
It can be difficult to land a good job without a high school diploma. On average, people who don’t have a high school diploma or equivalent earned about $150 less every week than people who hold a high school diploma. That adds up to almost $8,000 more each year.
GED vs TASC vs HiSET vs NEDP
GED -- GED stands for General Educational Development. Most states, employers, and institutions recognize the GED and it is the most common high school diploma equivalency diploma. The GED is done only on a computer in testing centers.
HiSET -- HiSET stands for High School Equivalency Test. Aside from an essay question, all the questions on the HiSET are multiple choice. This exam is offered as a paper exam and digitally.
NEDP -- NEDP stands for National External Diploma Program. It is a unique program that, unlike the other exams, results in a high school diploma rather than an equivalent. However, it is not offered in many states.
How to Obtain Your GED or Equivalent
- Choose an exam and check eligibility requirements
- Each state holds and recognizes different tests. Some states only recognize one test, while others have multiple options. Before you choose an exam, see what tests are held in your state here: Find your state's high school equivalency (HSE) options.
- Some states will allow you to take an exam as young as 16 or 17, while others may require you to wait until you are older. Check your state’s requirements before proceeding.
- Study for the exam and/or take classes and prep courses
- There are typically 5 or 6 different parts to the GED or one of the GED equivalency tests: math, science, reading, writing, language arts, and social studies. Each section focuses on different competencies and skills. You must complete all exam modules to receive your diploma.
- You have many options to study for the GED or an equivalent. There are numerous organizations that offer affordable adult education courses in person and online. Some states require you to take a certain amount of credits from an adult education course in order to qualify for a diploma. Check with your state’s requirements for more information.
- There are also books, practice tests, and other online materials available for independent study. Check your local library for free study materials, books, and more resources.
- Schedule your exam(s)
- Depending on your state, you may be able to take each part of the exam separately. If you are able to, most people recommend you schedule them separately so you can fully focus on studying for one part before taking another. The time you have between each exam module depends on which exam you are taking and your state’s rules.
- You may be eligible to have your exam partially or fully paid for by your state or a non-profit organization. Check in your area to see what options are available..
- Take and pass the exam(s)
- HiSet and TASC both offer online and paper exams, while GED is only done on a computer. Choose the format that works best for your testing preferences.
- Before the exam, make sure you bring all the necessary equipment you will need like pencils, pens, and calculators. It may also be a good idea to bring a light snack and a jacket. Make sure you show up on time to your testing facility.
- If you fail an exam module, you can retake it. Some exams may offer free or reduced pricing for retakes, while others may make you pay full price again. Cost per retake also depends on the state you live in.
- You may be able to request reasonable testing accommodations for certain diagnosed disabilities. Contact your local testing center for more information.
- Receive your Diploma
- After you pass all the exam modules, you will receive a diploma or certificate from your testing institution. You can also request transcripts from the institution to send to another school.
Earning a GED or an equivalent is a monumental step toward bettering yourself and achieving your career goals. Furthering your education opens up a world of new opportunities. Earning your GED or an equivalent also will allow you to further your education. There are many training options available, many of which only take 6 months to 1 year to complete. Find out more about career training options in our careers guide.