Format of HiSET

Educational Testing Service (ETS) has formatted HiSET in Paper & Pencil as well as computer-based for the convenience of HiSET test administration. Multiple-choice is the overall format utilized in this high school equivalency exam; however, Part 2 of the Language Arts/Writing subtest requires a full, written essay.

Always keep in mind that through completion of HiSET practice tests you can fully review the high school material covered in this exam. The opportunity to prepare is at your fingertips.


High School Equivalency Test Content

You can expect to encounter five specific subtests:

  • Language Arts/Reading – This subtest consists of 40 multiple-choice questions to be answered within a timeframe of 65 minutes. Two types of written material are presented within this subtest: Literary texts and Informational texts. The focus behind the questions concerns four reading skills: Comprehension, inference and interpretation, analysis, and synthesis and generalization. A range of written material forms the basis for questions and responses: Memoires, biographical sketches, editorials, essays, narratives and poetry.
  • Language Arts/Writing – Expect 51 multiple-choice questions and a time limit of 120 minutes. Within the two hours allotted for the Writing subtest, you will be required to write an essay. Your essay will be graded on the development and organization of ideas, language flow and rules of writing such as grammar, spelling and English usage. The multiple-choice portion of this subtest involves the correct revision of underlined words and phrases, housed in newspaper articles, essays, reports, letters and personal accounts.
  • Mathematics – Within a timeframe of 90 minutes, you will respond to 50 multiple-choice items. Questions include math topics such as measurement, geometry, numerical operations, algebraic concepts, estimation, data management and statistics. Algebra comprises 45% of the Mathematics subtest. While a formula sheet is provided, you should memorize the following formulas as they are not included on the sheet: Pythagorean theorem, distance/rate/time (d=rt) and the quadratic formula.
  • Science – Approximately half of the Science subtest consists of Life Science. The remaining portion is divided between Physical Science and Earth Science. A total of 50 questions are to be answered within 80 minutes. Research particulars and results are sourced in scientific journal articles. The information and conclusions involving fields such as physics, botany, health, astronomy, chemistry and zoology, are presented through charts, graphs and tables. Questions concern the analysis, interpretation, application, evaluation and generalization of hypotheses, assumptions, data, procedures and results.
  • Social Studies – This subtest allots 70 minutes for 50 multiple-choice items. The topics include economics, history, geography, civics/government and political science. Expect to see graphs, charts, documents, written passages, posters, maps, tables, cartoons and timelines. One of the skills tested involves the separation of fact from opinion.

Scoring Thresholds

The Pass threshold consists of 8/20 on each of the five subtests, 2/6 for the essay and a total scaled score of 45/100 for the entire HiSET exam.


High School Equivalency Test Preparation

While the various subtests of HiSET appear complicated, making use of a exam preparation with JobTestPrep can turn the mountain of a difficult test into a very doable hill. Through HiSET math practice test, science practice test, and social studies practice test, you gain a familiarity with the overall format and types of passages, charts, questions and expected answers. That familiarity will go far in placing you at ease when facing the actual exam.