The Iowa GED

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In January, 2014, Iowa replaced the General Education Development or GED high school equivalency test with the HiSET exam. Anyone who did not graduate from high school can still expand their job opportunities and apply to college by passing the HiSET exam and earning an Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma.
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The Iowa HiSET Exam

What Is the Format?

The HiSET exam is a set of five subtest tests in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. The test evaluates your academic knowledge and skills according to the expectations and standards set for Iowa's high school graduates.

The HiSET Exam is a computer-based test offered in English and Spanish. You need to successfully complete the following subtests to pass the HiSET exam:

  • Language Arts - Reading - This is a 65 minute test with 40 multiple choice questions based on a variety of reading selections. Questions asks you complete different tasks such as identify themes and topics, synthesize ideas , draw conclusions and determine an author's point of view.
  • Language Arts - Writing - Part 1 of the two-part Writing subtest has 51 multiple-choice questions that require you to edit and revise writing samples with organizational problems and mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation and language use. For Part 2, you will have 45 minutes to draft and write and your own original essay.
  • Mathematics - The math subtest allows you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. The test has 51 multiple-choice questions involving topics such as fractions, decimals, percents, proportions, measurements and the perimeter, area and volume of geometric figures. Questions also cover algebraic patterns, expressions, linear functions, equations and inequalities. You have 90 minutes to complete the test, and you can use a calculator and formula sheet.
  • Social Studies - The Social Studies subtest requires you to interpret and analyze ideas and information on topics from U.S. history, civics, geography and economics. The 70-minute test has 50 multiple-choice questions based on reading passages, maps, charts, graphs and illustrations.
  • Science - The HiSET Science subtest asks you to demonstrate your ability to understand, apply and evaluate scientific information, concepts and principles. The 80-minute test has 50 multiple-choice questions based on topics in health, zoology, botany, chemistry, physics and astronomy.

How is the HiSET Exam Scored ?

The HiSET subtests are scored on a scale of 1-20. To pass, you need a minimum score of 8 points on each subtest, and a total combined score of 45 points on all five subtests. You must also score at least 2 of the 6 possible points on your essay for the writing test.

If you score below an 8 on any of the subtests, you can retake the test up to three times within a calendar year. However, in Iowa, you must either wait three months to retest in a subject, or provide written proof that you have studied to retake a test at a local adult education prep program

Who is Eligible to take the HiSET Exam

In Iowa, eligibility requirements vary with age. Anyone who is 18 or older can take the HiSET Exam without meeting any special circumstances. You do not have to be a resident of the state to take the exam in Iowa.

If you are 16, you can take the exam if you are a resident of an Iowa juvenile institution or under the supervision of a juvenile probation program. If you are 17, you can take the exam but you will not receive your Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma until you turn 18, or until your 9th grade class graduates from high school.

Iowa requires test takers of all ages to receive some instruction and complete the HiSET practice test before taking the actual exam. Iowa's Adult Education and Literacy program offers classes and instruction and provides verification that you have taken the practice test.

How Do I Register for the HiSET and What Will It Cost?

You can register for the HiSET exam and schedule your tests online at the HiSET website, You can use the website's test center database to find a testing site located near you.

You can also register and schedule your tests through your local test center, or by calling the HiSET customer service line at 1-855-MyHiSET.

Although you do not need to schedule your subtests in any specific order, in Iowa neither the Mathematics subtest nor the Language Arts - Writing subtest can be you final test.

In Iowa, the cost of the entire HiSET Exam is $50. The fee includes two retests per subject that must be taken within one year. If you are scheduling just one subtest, the fee is $15.

How Do I Prepare?

In order to take the HISET exam in Iowa, you must do some prep work and complete a HiSET practice test at an Adult Education and Literacy Center. In Iowa, adult education programs are located in the state's community colleges and you can find a program through the Iowa Department of Education at

You can also study independently using the sample questions, practice tests and other study resources available on

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