Significant changes were made to the GED test in 2011 to update it for modern needs and ensure alignment with the Common Core State Standards. Additional changes were unveiled with the 2014 version of the test, when it was announced that testing would be computer based and the cost of the test would increase. As a result, two competing tests, the TASC and HiSET exams, entered the market in 2014, and a selection of states have chosen one or more of the three high school equivalency credential options to meet their needs.
How do the three tests compare? Use this infographic for a simple, visual overview of the similarities and differences.
The GED test assesses four subject areas: Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies. Depending on what state you are in, the test offers two discounted or free retakes. Because all testing is done by computer, scores are available within three hours of completion, and the variety of question items has been expanded to more interactive methods like drag-and-drop. The newly added constructed response items, which include the short answer items in the Science test and the extended response items in the Reasoning Through Language Arts and Social Studies tests, evaluate the student’s ability to compose evidence-based writing on demand. As the writing items are computer graded, the rubric used to evaluate the compositions is formulaic and requires students to conform to a strict set of expectations. Students may be given a limited quotation with a related complex passage, a diagram or chart with a related passage, or a scenario requiring the application of domain-specific formulas (e.g., the scientific method), and they will need to be equipped with specific skills to succeed on these questions. Additionally, the GED Testing Service® has released a predictive practice test to help learners determine if they are prepared for the full exam called the GED Ready™.
The Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, or TASC, is available both online and on paper. Testers can theoretically take the test anywhere, depending on their state’s rules. The TASC exam tests the same subject areas as the old 2002 GED test, meaning testers can combine scores from previously taken GED tests and the TASC, and the cost of the exam includes two free retakes. The test will be phasing in Common Core content over the next few years, which also helps to make it more competitive with the new GED assessment. Score reporting will be instantaneous if the online option is used. Scores are available in 10 days for the paper test.
The High School Equivalency Test, HiSET, also tests the five subject areas of the former 2002 GED test and the TASC, and the cost of the exam includes two free retakes. It is also available online and via paper, but testing locations are left to the states to decide. The only major difference between the TASC and the HiSET is how they are approaching implementing Common Core. The HiSET exam is currently aligned to the new standards, with a second phase planned that will better align with instructional programs once they themselves align with the new standards.
Several educators who have had students successfully pass these tests highlighted the following areas on which to focus.
- Understand the Rubric – Students need to be clear about what is being asked of them and what should or should not be included in their responses. Straying beyond the goal of the question undermines the points that could be awarded. Citing and using text-based evidence in their responses are critical to success.
- Focus on Reading Comprehension and Fluency with Complex Text – A limited time is provided on constructed response items for students to read, reflect, and respond, and they need to be experienced with complex texts, not only in comprehending new vocabulary and ideas but also in reading quickly enough to have sufficient time to write their responses.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – Exposure to writing prompts of all types—from language arts, social studies, and science topics—is essential long before a student plans to take the test. Not only should students be practicing with complex reading passages and constructed writing examples, but they also need to be evaluated with the constructed response rubric very early on so that they can see how to best meet the requirements quickly and efficiently. In addition, keyboarding skills are important to the expediency of writing on computers.
GED®, GED Testing Service ®, and GED Ready™ are registered trademarks of the American Council on Education (ACE) and administered exclusively by GED Testing Service LLC under license. This material is not endorsed or approved by ACE or GED Testing Service.
HiSET® is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS). Edmentum products are not endorsed or approved by ETS.
TASC and Test Assessing Secondary Completion are trademarks of McGraw-Hill Education. Copyright © 2015 by CTB/McGraw-Hill LLC.