What is on the HiSET test?

What is on the HiSET test? The best way to prepare for your test is to know what is on the HiSET test. Here is the information you need to know about what is on the HiSET test. Learn how to study and practice for the test.

HiSET test sample question
Image courtesy of ETS

What should I expect?

What is on the HiSET test? This is what you can expect:

  • You will go to a testing center to take the HiSET test
  • You can take the test on a computer or on paper at most testing centers
  • You can take the test in English or Spanish
  •  The test has 5 parts, called subtests – one for each content area (subject)

The whole test takes between a little longer than 7 hours, but you can take the 5 parts on different days over several months. This is good for busy workers and parents. It means you can choose to study for each part of the test separately. Or you can take the parts you already know, and then use your time to study for the harder parts.

How do I know if I am ready to take the test?

You can take our free online practice tests to see if you are ready. You can also download many official HiSET™ practice tests to take offline.

What are the questions like?

The HiSET™ test has all multiple-choice questions except for one essay question.

Multiple-choice questions

A multiple-choice question gives you a choice of answers. The question might be about text, or it could be about a picture or map. It might be a diagram, including a chart, table, or graph. Below the text or image will be a question and then a list of answers, like this example. You choose the right one by clicking a circle on the computer, or making a mark on paper.

example of multiple choice question

The good thing about multiple-choice questions is that the answer is always there in front of you. You just have to figure out which one it is. To do this, you need to look carefully at the information you are given. Read the question very carefully, too. It might trick you a little bit – for example, it might say, Which answer is not true?

Essay question

Your HiSET™ test will have one essay question in the section called Language Arts – Writing.  For this question, you will have write a few paragraphs about a topic you are given.

Try them out!

You can take the HiSET™ test on paper or on a computer. Try the different formats – you will be able to complete all of the question types if you practice ahead of time!

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Đến lớp

What are the subjects?

What is on the HiSET test? There are five subtests (subjects) on the HiSET™ exam: social studies, science, mathematics (math for short), reading and writing.

Language arts – reading

The HiSET™ language arts – reading test takes 65 minutes. It has 50 multiple-choice questions.

This test measures your ability to understand and interpret reading material. You will answer questions about the material you read.

The material might be from a speech, a letter, a newspaper article, or a passage from a book. 60 percent of texts are from literature (novels or poetry for example) and 40 percent of texts are information, such as articles. The texts you read will be about 400 to 600 words long.

Language arts – writing

The HiSET™ language arts – writing test takes 120 minutes. It has 2 parts: the first part with 60 multiple-choice questions lasts 75 minutes, and the second part with 1 essay question last 45 minutes.

This test measures your ability to edit and correct standard American English text. It will ask you questions about correct ways of writing. It will test your understanding of grammar.

With the essay question, the testers want to see that you can organize your information, develop an idea or opinion, give examples, and write clearly about your thoughts.

You don’t need to know any facts to pass the language arts test. You need to show that you understand what you are reading by answering questions, and that you can write correct English.

Social studies

The HiSET™social studies test lasts 70 minutes. It has 60 multiple-choice questions.

The testers may expect some basic knowledge about the world and the United States, but it measures your ability to understand and interpret information more than it tests your knowledge of facts. You will read and evaluate information about subjects such as history, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography and economics.

The questions use primary documents, posters, cartoons, timelines, maps, graphs, tables, charts as well as reading passages.


The HiSET™ math test lasts 90 minutes. It has 55 multiple-choice questions. You may use a calculator for this section. The computer version of this test has an on-screen calculator. If you’re taking the paper-delivered test, your test center will give you a handheld calculator. The decision for the type of calculator used is up to your state.

The test will measure your understanding of several kinds of mathematics. The questions are presented as practical problems. You will answer them using numerical operations, measurement, estimation, data interpretation and logical thinking.

Most of the test will use just basic math skills and reasoning skills. Many questions (45%) use algebra, and some will use geometry.


The HiSET™ math test takes 80 minutes. It has 60 multiple-choice questions.

The test measures your understanding of some basic scientific ideas. It will test your ability to use science content knowledge, apply principles of scientific inquiry (the scientific method), and interpret and evaluate scientific information.

The questions will use graphs, tables and charts as well as text to present information and results.

You can learn more about all the HiSET™ subtests.

How are the tests scored?

To pass the HiSET™, you have to choose the right answer to a certain number of questions. Those right answers will give you points. The total possible number of points you can get on all the five subtests together is 100.

  • Your total score on all the subtests together must be at least 45 points out of a possible 100 points.
  • On each sub-test, you must score at least 8 out of a possible 20 points.
  • On the essay question of the language arts – writing test, you must score at least 2 out of a possible 6 points.

I have questions about how to take the HiSET™ test in my state.

You can find out how to take the HiSET™ test in your state.

What should I do next?

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