Pa. to offer alternative to GED exam

Jessica Schladebeck

Pennsylvanians who did not graduate from high school but now wish to further pursue an education will have the opportunity to choose between two high school equivalency exams.

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Those students will be able to pick between the HiSET and the GED exam when seeking their Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma, Pennsylvania’s official high school equivalency credential offered by the state Department of Education, according to a news release from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Both state-approved tests measure the skills needed to obtain equivalency and are recognized and accepted by colleges, employers and the U.S. military.

The biggest difference between the two exams is the cost. According to HiSET's website, the test can cost $50 to $65, which also includes two retakes if needed. Additionally, students who do not pass only need to retake the sections they failed. The GED exam, on the other hand, can cost upward of $80 — plus $5 for each test section — and requires an additional, though significantly smaller, fee for retakes.

The HiSET is also offered in test centers and online, while the GED is online only. The HiSET, in addition to determining proficiency in high school subjects, also determines college readiness.

The GED exam, until now, has been Pennsylvania’s sole testing option. In 2014, more than 2,000 people passed the GED exam, according to the news release.

“Now, more than ever, Pennsylvanians need the flexibility to pursue their educational and career goals in the manner that best meets their needs, and the added option of the HiSET exam grants them that opportunity,” Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera stated in the release. “There are multiple pathways to success in today’s economy, and by offering a choice in measurement tools, more adults and those who did not graduate will have access to the Commonwealth Secondary School Diploma and, ultimately, the jobs they hope to obtain in the future.”

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at