HiSET/GED Content

HiSET Test Content

The HiSET exam is given in both English and Spanish, and includes five subtests that you can schedule to take in any order:

  • Language Arts – Reading
  • Language Arts – Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Language Arts - Reading

  • Time: 65 minutes
  • Format: 40 multiple-choice questions

The Reading subtest measures your ability to understand, interpret and analyze a broad range of literary and informational texts. The selections are from different genres on subject matter that varies in purpose and style. They may be in the form of memoirs, essays, biographical sketches, editorials or poetry. The texts generally range in length from approximately 400 to 600 words.


Language Arts - Writing

  • Time:
    • Part 1 – 75 minutes
    • Part 2 – 45 minutes
  • Format:
    • Part 1 – 50 questions, multiple choice
    • Part 2 – 1 essay prompt

If you are taking the HiSET exam in English, the Writing subtest measures your skill in recognizing and producing effective, standard, American-written English and is in two parts. Spanish test takers may write their essay in Spanish.

  • Part 1 measures your ability to edit and revise written text.
  • Part 2 measures your ability to generate and organize ideas in writing.

Part 1

In Part 1, you are asked to make revision choices concerning organization, diction and clarity, sentence structure, usage, and mechanics.

The subtest questions are embedded in complete texts in the form of letters, essays, newspaper articles, personal accounts and reports. The texts are presented as drafts in which parts have been underlined to indicate a possible need for revision. You are given alternatives that may correct or improve the underlined portions. Aspects of written language that are measured may include appropriate style, logical transitions, discourse structure and organization, conciseness and clarity, or usage and mechanics.

Part 2

In Part 2, you are asked to generate and organize ideas in writing. Your writing is assessed on development, organization, language facility and writing conventions.



  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Format: 50 multiple-choice questions

The Mathematics subtest measures mathematical knowledge and competencies. You are asked to solve quantitative problems using fundamental concepts and reasoning skills. The questions present practical problems that require numerical operations, measurement, estimation, data interpretation and logical thinking. Problems are based on realistic situations and may test abstract concepts such as algebraic patterns, precision in measurement and probability. You may use a calculator for the entire subject test, if you choose to do so.



  • Time: 80 minutes
  • Format: 50 multiple-choice questions

The Science subtest measures your ability to use science content knowledge, apply principles of scientific inquiry, and interpret and evaluate scientific information. Most of the questions provide descriptions of scientific investigations and their results. Scientific information is based on reports that might be found in scientific journals. Graphs, tables and charts are used to present information and results.

The questions use material from a variety of content areas such as: physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, health and astronomy. You may be asked to identify the research question of interest, select the best design for a specific research question and recognize conclusions that can be drawn from results. You may also be asked to evaluate the adequacy of procedures and distinguish among hypotheses, assumptions and observations.


Social Studies

  • Time: 70 minutes
  • Format: 50 multiple-choice questions

The Social Studies subtest measures your ability to analyze and evaluate various kinds of social studies information. The subtest uses materials from a variety of content areas, including history, political science, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography and economics. Primary documents, posters, cartoons, timelines, maps, graphs, tables, charts and reading passages may be used to present information. You may be asked to distinguish statements of fact from opinion; recognize the limitations of procedures and methods; and make judgments about the reliability of sources, the validity of inferences and conclusions, and the adequacy of information for drawing conclusions.



GED Test Content

The 2014 GED test is designed to measure the skills and knowledge equivalent to a high school course of study and supports an adult’s successful transition to careers or college. 

The GED test has four content areas and takes roughly seven and a half hours:


Reasoning Through Language Arts

This test is 150 minutes long and testing is broken down into three sections:

  • Section 1 (35 minutes*) tests all content
  • Section 2 (45 minutes) is the Extended Response portion of the test
  • Student break (10 minutes)
  • Section 3 (60 minutes*) tests all content

*The time allotted for sections 1 and 3 may vary slightly, but the total test time will always be 150 minutes.


Mathematical Reasoning

This test is 115 minutes long and is one single section.

Part 1 – (first 5 questions) calculators not allowed

Part 2 – (remaining 41 test questions) calculators allowed

Students must submit their answers to the first five questions before moving on to the rest of the test. These parts are not timed separately.

Not sure how to work a calculator?  View the GED Test TI-30XS On-Screen Scientific Calculator video.

Want to study the Mathematical Formula's ahead of time?  View the Mathematics Formula Sheet & Explanation


Social Studies

This test is 90 minutes long and testing is broken down into two sections:

  • Section 1 (65 minutes) tests all content
  • Section 2 (25 minutes) is the Extended Response portion of the test



This test is 90 minutes long and is one single section. There are two Short Answer questions included on the test, but they are not timed separately. Students are expected to manage their time and spend about 10 minutes on each of the Short Answer questions.

It is offered in English and Spanish and delivered on computer at an Official GED Testing Center (not online).