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Understanding Literacy

Opening the Door to Empowerment

The high school equivalency exam provides adults who did not complete high school the opportunity to certify their academic knowledge and skills.

A high school diploma or Certificate of High School Equivalency is required for many entry-level jobs. In many cases, it’s also the prerequisite for advancement in employment, occupational training, and post-secondary education.

For many decades, the GED® exam was the only option for students to obtain the Certificate of High School Equivalency. However, in 2016, the Texas State Board of Education approved two additional exams, the HiSET® and the TASC®, allowing adult students a choice of which exam they will take to obtain the Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency. Each of these exams, when passed, will result in the student being awarded a Certificate of High School Equivalency by the Texas Education Agency. In 2019, TASC® chose not to renew their contract with the state, but HiSET® and GED® are still available.

Many other states across the US have moved away from using only the GED® exam to award high school equivalency diplomas. Community and faith based programs, as well as programs provided through school districts and community colleges, help adult learners prepare for any one of these three exams so that they can find better jobs and further their education.

Students who participate in Project BEST, a program of the Tarrant Literacy Coalition, prepare for the HiSET® exam. This test has five sub-tests: Reading, Writing, Math, Science and Social Studies.

Click to find a pre-HSE or HSE preparation class near your home or work.

Texas consistently ranks as one of the highest states in the nation for adults who lack a high school diploma (American Council on Education). Staff and volunteers in community and faith-based high school equivalency preparation programs work hard to help adults prepare for the exam, but many adult students struggle to pay the test fee. The cost to take the high school equivalency exam in Texas ranges from $128.75 to $166.25 per student, depending on which exam and in which format (paper-based, computer-based, or online/remote proctored) the student chooses. You can help an adult student take this important step by contributing to our assistance fund for low income students who are ready to take the high school equivalency exam.

Practice Makes Perfect

The high school equivalency (HSE) exams require students to test on math, science, social studies, reading and writing. The full battery of exams take a student approximately seven hours to complete. The GED exam is a computer-based test; the HiSET exam is offered in a computer based and paper based format. Preparation classes focus on improving an adult's skills in the subject content areas; students attend classes at least twice a week.

Almost all students need individual help and additional practice in order to successfully prepare for the high school equivalency exam. However, not every program is able to serve students on such an individualized basis because of the shortage of instructors. More volunteers are needed to help these students and more high school equivalency preparation classes are needed. Prior teaching experience is not required to help in an HSE program. You can help a student accomplish this important goal by becoming a volunteer in a local program.

Learn about literacy's role in the workplace and how employers can incorporate job training to match their employees' needs.

Spanish High School Equivalency Exam

Taking the high school equivalency test in Spanish allows Spanish-speaking adults with limited English skills to advance more quickly toward their educational and professional goals. Obtaining a Certificate of High School Equivalency allows Spanish-speaking students to enroll in higher education courses, attend English language classes at a community college, and/or obtain a more secure job.

However, there are a limited number of Spanish high school equivalency preparation classes in the Tarrant County area. The Coalition hopes to increase the capacity of these programs by providing resources to the programs, while simultaneously matching Spanish-speaking adults with their services.


Success on a high school equivalency (HSE) exam is almost always dependent upon a student's participation in HSE preparation classes. Programs provide information about the test structure, tips for testing strategy, and guidance from previous students, as well as actual instruction in the different test subject areas.

Volunteer or donate to support a high school equivalency preparation class.

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