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About the HiSET Exam

Not having your high school diploma can seriously affect your future earning potential. Last year, the average wage for a person with a high school diploma was $35,000 per year, compared to only $25,000 for a person without one. That amounts to over $500,000 less earnings during a your entire career! A high school diploma or its equivalent is also necessary for acceptance to college so getting your diploma will help you earn more and get ahead.

The HiSET (otherwise known as the ETS High School Equivalency Test) is a standardized test released in the year 2014. It was created by the ITP (Iowa Testing Programs) and ETS (Educational Testing Service). Like the GED and the TASC, the HiSET is meant to help people who failed to graduate from high school and would like to earn their diploma. The HiSET is formatted to evaluate your readiness for a professional or academic environment and tell you where you excel and where you still need to improve.

The test contains a total of 285 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. These questions are split into five sections, and you must pass all five sections to pass the HiSET. You don’t have to take each section of the test all at once or in any particular order.

Click on the links below to learn more:

  1. About the HiSET
  2. How is the HiSET scored?
  3. Contact Dr. Donnelly about HiSET lessons
  4. Read our HiSET Reviews
  5. Buy Best-selling Test Prep Book
  6. HiSET Exams by Subject
    1. HiSET Reading Exam
    2. HiSET Writing Exam
    3. HiSET Math Exam
    4. HiSET Science Exam
    5. HiSET Social Studies Exam
AP Calculus, AP Physics, AP Chemistry

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Dr. Donnelly can teach you the correct approach for each type of question that will appear on the HiSET, the GED or TASC tests. This will significantly increase your chances of getting the required score to attend the school of your choice.

Private HiSET tutoring with Dr. Donnelly is available either online via Zoom or in-person at either his San Diego-based office or his Manhattan-based office in New York City (depending upon the time of year).

Dr. Donnelly is very proud that every single one of his HiSET students has passed the HiSET exam on his or her very first attempt! We are confident that he can do the same for you.

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"Dr. Donnelly's private tutoring stands apart from other mainstream/commercial review programs because he isolates an individual's weaknesses and tailors a successful review and test-taking strategy that conforms to an individual's needs -- rather than those of the masses. Dr. Donnelly was able to quickly understand and dissect my thought process in order to help me break old habits and establish stronger test-taking skills so I could get that higher score I wanted."

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Overview of the HiSET Exams

Exam Format and Structure


The HiSET Exam

The HiSET exam is the first step toward college, a better job, or a whole new career. Don’t wait any longer to change your life and expand your opportunities. The test consists of five subtests that are taken and scored individually. The HiSET is formatted to evaluate your readiness for a professional or academic environment and tell you where you excel and where you still need to improve.

The test contains a total of 285 multiple-choice questions and one essay question. These questions are split into five sections, and you must pass all five sections to pass the HiSET. You don’t have to take each section of the test all at once or in any particular order.

A passing grade qualifies as a minimum of 45 cumulative points on the multiple-choice portion (with a minimum of eight points on each individual subsection) and two points for the essay portion.

The HiSET tests are focused on 5 specific content areas:

  1. HiSET Reading Literacy Test
  2. HiSET Writing Test
  3. HiSET Math
  4. HiSET Science
  5. HiSET Social Studies.

HiSET Reading Literacy Test

HiSET Test Reading Literacy

The HiSET Reading Literacy Test lasts 65 minutes and contains 40 multiple choice questions. You will be given a selection of short passages to read. These passages can be drawn from a variety of sources, including memoirs, essays, “biographical sketches”, editorials, or even poetry. Each of these selections is between 400 and 600 words long.

Following each selection, there will be a series of between 5 and 10 questions — which will test your overall comprehension and ask you to analyze the article. Learn more about the HiSET Reading Literacy Test.

HiSET Test Writing

HiSET Test Writing

The HiSET Test Writing contains 50 multiple-choice questions with 1 essay question, and you will be given 120 minutes to complete it. In this section of the test, you are asked to demonstrate editorial and proofreading skills. You will be give short texts: letters, essays, newspaper articles, personal accounts, and reports. In each text, a section will be underlined, and you will have to decide what (if any) revision is necessary or appropriate for the underlined section.

The writing section also contains an essay. For the essay, you will be given a short prompt. This prompt may take any form: it may focus on an issue, which you will then be expected to argue for, or against; it may ask you to respond with a personal story; it may require you to provide information on a given topic. Learn more about the HiSET Writing Literacy Test.

HiSET Test Mathematics

Mathematics Section of the HiSET

The HiSET Mathematics test evaluates your ability to solve mathematical problems and apply mathematics to a variety of contexts. On the Mathematics Test, you will have 90 minutes to answer 50 questions. In this section, you can use a calculator and you will be asked to solve a selection of word problems by demonstrating knowledge of fundamental math and reasoning skills. Problems are practical and realistic, requiring numerical operations, measurement, estimation, data interpretation, and logical thinking. In addition, they will require you to be aware of algebraic patterns, probability, and precision in measurement. Remember that what you need to do is pull out the information given in the problem: the starting conditions, known relationships between the numbers, and the question problem wants to be answered.

HiSET Social Studies Test

Social Studies Section of the HiSET

The HiSET Social Studies Test evaluates your ability to analyze and digest social studies information. This section contains 50 multiple-choice questions and you’ll have 70 minutes to complete them. Passage selections will be drawn from a variety of fields, including history, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, and economics. These selections may well take the form not just of primary documents (that is to say, technical articles), but also posters, cartoons, timelines, maps, graphs, tables, charts, and even reading passages (that is, articles about the technical articles).

The Social Studies section builds on the skills established in the Reading section, asking you not just about how the author of a given work is going about his business but also asking you to apply your own razor separating fact from fiction. You will be asked to separate factual information from opinions, about the limitations of procedures and methods — does the method employed in the selection allow the author to say what he claims to say? — judge how reliable a given source is, and which sources might be more reliable than others, ascertain how valid inferences and conclusions are, and finally whether or not the information presented is adequate for drawing any conclusions at all, much fewer ones the author might claim.

HiSET Science Test

Science Section of the HiSET

The HiSET Science test assesses your ability to understand, interpret, and apply scientific information. You will have 80 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions. Subjects questions will be drawn from include: physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, health, and astronomy and are designed to mimic scientific journal reports and will include graphs, tables, and charts to present information and results. These will be designed to include descriptions of hypotheses and testing methods, as well as the data returned and analysis on it. To get a really good score here, you should be able to read the two in tandem and see what kind of model the scientist built to test his hypothesis.

Test questions will include being asked to identify research questions of interest, identifying the best design for investigating a specific research question, being able to recognize what kinds of conclusions can be inferred from results, evaluating the adequacy of procedures, and distinguishing between hypotheses, assumptions, and observations.