Gateway FAQ: Options for completing high school, GED, HiSET, and TASC

Monday, October 12, 2015

For young people who have dropped out of high school, it can be a challenge to reconnect to their educational pathway. However, there are options available in every community for completing a high school degree or an equivalency.

What options do I have to complete a high school degree or equivalency?

Gateway to College

If you’re interested in pursuing a postsecondary degree or credential, completing high school is the best option. Some young people will choose to re-enroll in high school through one of Gateway to College’s 41 programs. For others, a district-specific reengagement program in their area will allow them to complete their degree.

Equivalency Tests

The most common option, other than completing a high school diploma, is to take one of three equivalency tests – the GED, the HiSET, or the TASC. Prior to 2014, the GED was exclusive option for a high school equivalency. In 2014, the GED was significantly overhauled to meet Common Core Standards. It is now a more rigorous test than it was prior to 2014, and many states use one of the other two options. Currently, 40 states still offer the GED Test, 15 offer the HiSET, and 6 offer the TASC. Some states offer two options, and a few offer all three.

Since the revamped GED is still relatively recent, and results from the test are new, states have been changing which tests they offer. For the most up to date information, be sure to check with your state Department of Education prior to pursuing one of the three tests.

GED (General Equivalency Diploma)

Subject Areas Tested: Reasoning through language arts, Mathematical reasoning, Science, and Social studies

Question Types: Computer-based

Cost: Varies, but generally $80 plus $5 for each of the four tests

States offered in: GED is offered in 39 states.

HiSET (High School Equivalency Test)

Subject Areas Tested: Language Arts (Reading and Writing), Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics

Question Types: Computer-based or paper-based

Cost: Varies by state, but generally $50 to $65

States offered in: HiSET is the only option in Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, and New Hampshire. It is one of the options in Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Wyoming, and California (Long Beach and Los Angeles)

TASC (Test Assessing Secondary Completion)

Subject Areas Tested: Language Arts (Reading and Writing), Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics

Question Types: Computer-based or paper-based

Cost: Varies by state, but generally $52 to $65

States offered in: TASC is the only option in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia. It is one of the options in California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wyoming.

How do I find a high school completion program in my area?

Gateway to College programs operate in 41 communities in 21 states. Visit our program map to discover whether Gateway to College is available in your community. If a Gateway to College program is not available, many districts operate their own reengagement centers or partner with a nonprofit program that allows students to complete their degrees. The best way to find these programs is by searching for alternative high schools, re-engagement centers, or dropout recovery programs.

Can I get accepted to college by completing an equivalency?

The GED and equivalency tests are accepted by 95% of colleges. However, most colleges will not admit students who do not meet subject completion requirements. On top of the subject completion, most colleges also still require scores from the ACT or SAT standardized tests.

Where can I go to read more about my options?

We’ve found a few resources that can help navigate the difficulty of choosing an educational pathway:

High School Equivalency Degree Loses Its Dominant PositionThe Wall Street Journal

High School Graduates Rates: The Good, The Bad, and The AmbiguousNPR News

What’s the Value of Graduating High School Versus Earning a GED – KQED Education

Incomes of Young Adults by Educational AttainmentNational Center for Education Statistics

The Rising Cost of Not Going to CollegePew Research Center

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