GRE Tests vs. HiSET Tests: Which test should you take?

The GRE General Test and HiSET Exam are two different tests. Both differ in their purpose, structure, content, and many more areas. The only similarity between these two would be their developers. The Educational Testing Service or ETS makes both the GRE and HiSET. The GRE General Test is a test used to assess one’s readiness in pursuing postgraduate studies, while HiSET is a test that helps examinees get a state-issued high school equivalency credential. Passers of this test get a high school equivalency certificate or high school equivalency diploma. Read more into this article to know the similarities and differences between these two standardized tests.

GRE General Test vs. HiSET Exam: Comparison

Below is an overview and comparison of two standardized tests developed by ETS, the GRE General Test, and the HiSET exams.

GRE Tests vs. HiSET Exam
GRE General Test HiSET Exam
Purpose This test assesses grad school applicants' knowledge of verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, analytical writing, and critical thinking skills. - This test is used to certify that a candidate possesses academic knowledge and skills on a par with those of a high school graduate.

- This test also assists in determining which candidates are college- and career-ready and which candidates require improvement.

Structure Verbal reasoning section (2 sections)

Quantitative reasoning section (2 sections)

Analytical writing section (2 essay tasks)

Unscored/research section

HiSET Subtests:




Social Studies


Number of Questions - 100 multiple-choice questions

- 2 essay tasks

- 230 multiple-choice subtests/questions

- 1 essay task

Test Fee $150 - $10.75 for computer-delivered tests

- $15 for paper-delivered tests

Format Computer-delivered testing and paper-delivered testing Computer-delivered testing and paper-delivered testing
Scoring - Scores for each section range from 130-170 in 1 point

increments for verbal and quantitative reasoning.

- The Analytical Writing section is scored separately.


- Scores are reported on a 1–20 score scale in 1-point increments.

- The Language Arts – Writing essay test is scored separately.

- Each subtest has a passing score of 8, and the total score must be at least 45

- The essay must have a minimum score of 2.

Testing Time 3 hours and 30 minutes (Paper-Based)

3 hours and 45 minutes (Computer-Adaptive Test)


There is a 10-minute break after the 3rd section.

7 hours and 5 minutes not including the break
Validity 5 years No expiration

Who creates GRE and HiSET tests?

The Educational Testing Service (ETS) develops and administers both the GRE and HiSET tests. For the GRE, there is the GRE board to oversees the tests, research, and services. On the other hand, the HiSET tests are developed by state directors and adult educators.

Read More: Educational Testing Service (ETS)

What are the test sections of GRE and HiSET?

The GRE General Test has 4 sections, while the HiSET has 6 subtests. These are further discussed below.

GRE General Test Sections:

Verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing are the three sections of the GRE. These are further discussed below.

  1. Verbal reasoning.

It contains passages that the examinee needs to analyze, evaluate and synthesize. There are 20 passages for verbal reasoning. 30 minutes of allotted time per passage is given to the examinee.

  1. Quantitative reasoning.

It is composed of basic mathematical problems, elementary mathematical concepts, and problem-solving tasks. There are 20 tasks for quantitative reasoning. 35 minutes per task is allocated for quantitative reasoning.

  1. Analytical writing.

It is composed of an issue and argument that the examinee must analyze. One issue and argument is needed to be completed. Analytical writing has 60 minutes allotted time per task.

These are the three sections of the GRE General Test. This will help assess one’s readiness to pursue postgraduate studies and evaluate verbal and quantitative reasoning skills, analytical writing skills, and critical thinking skills.

HiSET Subtests:

Six distinct sections comprise the HiSET: Social Studies, Language Arts (Writing and Reading), Science, and Mathematics.

  1. Social Studies Subtest

The Social Studies section of the HiSET consists of 50 multiple-choice questions. Its purpose is to assess one's comprehension of a wide variety of Social Studies-related materials, such as primary sources and graphics on economics, history, geography, political science, anthropology, and psychology, among other subjects. Examinees will be expected to understand how to infer from source materials, how to distinguish subjective from objective information and determine the trustworthiness of a piece of given information. This section will take approximately 70 minutes to complete.

  1. Language Arts Subtest
    1. Writing Subtest

The Writing section of the HiSET is 120 minutes long and is divided into two distinct sections. One section of the test consists of a single prompt for which one must write an essay. The essay may be written in either Spanish or English, depending on one’s native language. The remaining section of the Writing section is multiple choice and, like the Social Studies section, consists of 50 questions. It is designed to measure an examinee’s ability to spot grammatical errors in the writing of others. Each question presents itself as a piece of writing in need of proofreading, which one is responsible for providing via your response choice.

  1. Reading Subtest

The HiSET's reading section is significantly shorter than the previous two, consisting of only 40 questions. There will only be 65 minutes to respond to all of these. This section is intended to assess an examinee’s reading comprehension abilities by presenting a variety of texts ranging in length from 400 to 600 words and written in various styles and tones. The questions will require one to decipher the provided text.

  1. Science Subtest

The Science section of the HiSET contains 50 questions and an 80-minute time limit. The questions are drawn from a variety of scientific subjects. The questions are on astronomy, physics, human health, and chemistry, among other subjects. This section will assess one’s comprehension of scientific materials by presenting scientific lab writings to review. Additionally, there will be visual evidence, such as charts, provided. One will be expected to understand the fundamentals of science—such as the scientific method—in order to properly answer the questions and make inferences.

  1. Mathematics Subtest

As with the rest of the exam, the HiSET's Mathematics section consists of 50 questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes. Calculators are permitted for this section and only this section. Additionally, an examinee may use a calculator for an unlimited period of time. The questions may require either basic mathematical abilities such as arithmetic, estimation, or data analysis, or more advanced applications of probability and algebra. Each question will have a realistic context to aid in comprehension.

These are the six subtests of the HiSET exam. Each subtest is timed and has specific requirements. However, none of the material on the test exceeds the level of knowledge expected of a typical high school senior. This knowledge will assist you in preparing.

What types of questions are in the GRE and HiSET?

Different question types are used in the test sections of both the GRE and the HiSET tests. Here are the following types of questions:

GRE General Test

  • Verbal Reasoning section
  1. Reading Comprehension
  2. Text Completion
  3. Sentence Equivalence
  • Quantitative Reasoning section
  1. Quantitative Comparison Questions
  2. Multiple-choice Questions — Select One Answer Choice
  3. Multiple-choice Questions — Select One or More Answer Choices
  4. Numeric Entry Questions
  • Analytical Writing section
  1. An Analyze an Issue task
  2. An Analyze an Argument task


The questions in HiSET exams are all in multiple-choice format and one essay. ETS has not disclosed further info regarding this matter.

What are the identification (ID) requirements needed?

Discussed below are the ID requirements for the GRE General Test and HiSET Exam.

GRE General Test: ID Requirements

GRE General Test takers’ identification cards must meet the following requirements:

  • ID must be original. Photocopied documents will not be accepted and documents cannot be presented on mobile devices or other electronic devices.
  • ID must be issued by the government. It may be a national, state, or province card as long as it is recognized by the country where you are a permanent resident or a citizen.
  • ID must be valid. Expired documents will not be accepted.
  • ID must bear the first and last name exactly as written on the registration form.
  • ID must include a recent, recognizable photograph.
  • ID must include a signature.

Identification cards must be presented by all test takers both online and at a test center. All Identification Card criteria must be followed to be eligible for the GRE test.

HiSET Exam: ID Requirements

HiSET examinees’ identification cards must meet the following requirements:

  • ID must be original. Photocopied documents will not be accepted and documents cannot be presented on mobile devices or other electronic devices.
  • ID must show full name.
  • ID must meet all the ID requirements for the state or jurisdiction in which you are testing
  • ID must bear the first and last name exactly as written on the registration form.

Identification cards must be presented by all test takers both online and at a test center. All Identification Card criteria must be followed to be eligible for the HiSET exams.

Which test has a longer testing time, GRE or HiSET?

Technically, the HiSET exams have a longer testing time which is 7 hours and 5 minutes excluding breaks. But it is not necessary to take all the subtests in one day. Although, you may do so. The GRE, however, takes 3 hours and 30 or 45 minutes (depending on the test administration) and all sections must be taken in a day.

How do you know which test to take between the GRE and HiSET exams?

Take the GRE General Test if you are a degree holder and want to pursue graduate studies. On the other hand, the HiSET is a high school equivalency exam. This exam is taken when you want to have a high school equivalency credential or a high school diploma. This exam allows individuals to showcase that they have the same academic knowledge and skills as high school graduates.

How to know if I’m eligible to take the GRE and HiSET exam?

For the GRE General Test, there are no eligibility requirements set by the ETS. On the other hand, for the HiSET exam, each state or jurisdiction has its own set of requirements for eligibility. The majority of requirements include age, school enrollment status, state residency, Adult Education preparation requirement, and identification.

How to register for the GRE General Test and HiSET Exam?

Registration for the GRE and HiSET tests may be done through a phone call, mail, or online.

GRE General Test: Online Registration

To register for the GRE test online, follow these steps:

1. Create an ETS account. Ensure that the name used in the registration is the same name that reflects on ID Documents.

  1. Select testing date and location. Click the “Register/Find Test Centers, Dates” button on the GRE homepage. Pick the desired date and test location.
  2. Verify email address. Confirm personal information and agree to the testing terms and conditions.
  3. Settle the GRE fees. Payment can be done through online banking, E-check, and Paypal. Credit card/Debit card is also accepted, including American Express, Diners Club International, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, and Visa.

Read more: GRE Exam Date, When to Take GRE Test

GRE General Test: Mail Registration

The GRE mail registration process is as follows:

  1. Form Completion. Fill out the GRE Authorization Voucher Request Form found in the GRE registration bulletin or ETS.
  2. Payment and Form Mailing. Check the address printed on the voucher. Then, mail the check or money with the signed voucher request form.
  3. Register through the authorization voucher. After receiving the authorization voucher, register online or call to schedule an appointment. Set an appointment before the expiration date of your authorization voucher.

GRE General Test: Phone Registration

Phone registration for GRE includes the following steps:

  1. Early registration. Register at least two days before the preferred test date. Phone registration is not available for home-based test takers and test takers in Mainland China, Hongkong, Taiwan, and Korea.
  2. Call Test Centers or Prometric Services. United States test-takers can call 1-443-751-4820 or 1-800-473-2255 directly. For other international test-takers, find the contact details on Regional Registration Center (RRC) and make a call.
  3. Fee Payment. Pay for the GRE registration fee. Credit or debit card, PayPal, and E-check are the mode of payments accepted by ETS.

HiSET Exam: Registration

To register for the HiSET exam online, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your ETS - HiSET account.
  2. Select Register for a HiSET Exam from the home page of your HiSET account.
  3. Select the Test at the Home option on the Schedule Tests page.
  4. Select the subtest(s) for which you wish to register.
  5. Choose the date and time of your subtests.
  6. Continue your registration and pay for your subtest by following the on-screen instructions.
  7. When you're finished, you'll receive an email confirmation with the details of your test order.

How to prepare for the GRE and HiSET?

To prepare for the GRE and HiSET exam, follow these steps and tips.

GRE General Test Preparation:

In preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), one must devote time and effort to succeed in passing this test. There are lots of resources available – online and offline – for those who aspire to prepare for the exam. Even the organization that administers the GRE, the Educational Testing Services (ETS), provides practice tests and sample questions online. There are also review centers that accept enrollees who wish to prepare and pass the GRE. They usually provide courses, books, and other useful materials.

Read More: How to Prepare for the GRE General Test

HiSET Exam Preparation:

The method by which you prepare for the HiSET® exam is entirely up to you — how much time you have available and how you prefer to study for exams. However, before sitting for the HiSET exam, there are a few things you should know:

  1. Discover the scope of the examination.

Research the test content for additional information about the content of the test. Learn the concepts and topics covered.

  1. Determine your level of familiarity with the material.

The longer it has been since you last attended school, the more preparation you will almost certainly require. Since this is a high school equivalency exam, the questions will be on lessons discussed in high school.

  1. Organize your time for study.

Allow ample time for study so that you are not forced to "cram" new material right before your appointment. Here are some pointers: Select a test date that is far enough in the future to allow ample time for preparation. Also, establish a reasonable study schedule and adhere to it!

  1. Utilize practice tests.

Answering full-length practice tests prior to the actual exam will help you recall the concepts and topics covered. This may also serve as a diagnostic test for you to discover which areas you need to focus on more.

Above are some helpful tips and strategies to help in preparation for the HiSET exam.

How will I get my GRE and HiSET scores?

Below are the ways to get the GRE and HiSET scores.

For HiSET Exam:

Through your HiSET account, you can view and print all of your unofficial scores. You can contact your test center if you have any questions or require assistance with this.

If you require a Comprehensive Score Report or Individual Score Report (Official Score Report) to be mailed to a college, scholarship program, or other organization, please contact ETS at 1-855-MyHiSET (1-855-694-4738). ETS will submit up to three score reports on your behalf to colleges, scholarship programs, and other designated institutions. If you require additional reports, you can access them via your HiSET account, print them, and send them to whomever you wish.

For the GRE General Test scores:

10 to 15 business days after the test date, the official GRE General Test scores will be available in the examinee’s ETS account. An email notification will also be sent to them. At the same time, the official institution Score Report is also sent to the score recipients.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to take the GRE and HiSET exam?

No, citizenship in the United States is not required to take the GRE and HiSET exam in any state or jurisdiction.