When you’re talking about getting a high school diploma in a non-traditional way, there are a lot of terms thrown around. Here’s a quick guide to the basics of high school equivalency.
High School Diploma vs. High School Equivalency Diploma
A true high school diploma is what you earn when you complete traditional high school (whether public, private, or homeschooled) by completing four years of coursework, typically as a teenager.
A high school equivalency diploma, on the other hand, can be earned by adult or other non-traditional students without completing four years of high school. A high school equivalency diploma can be used in the same way as a high school diploma to apply to college or to put on a resume for a job that requires a high school education. The path to getting there is different, however.
Each state has its own requirements for who can earn a high school equivalency diploma and what you need to do to get one. To find out what those requirements are in your state, check with your state’s department of education. You can find a directory of each state’s education website here.
In most states, you can earn a high school equivalency diploma by passing a high school equivalency exam. The three major exams are:
- General Educational Development (GED)
- Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC)
- High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)
Every state accepts at least one of these, and some accept more than one. Check with your state to see which tests are accepted there for high school equivalency.
What About a GED Diploma?
The term “GED diploma” gets thrown around, but it’s not entirely accurate. The GED is NOT actually a diploma. It’s a series of exams designed to test your mastery of high school-level knowledge and skills in the four core content areas (language arts, math, social studies, and science). States that accept the GED use your passing score on the GED exams as the basis for awarding you their state high school equivalency diploma.
The GED is just one of several options for earning a high school equivalency diploma. Most, but not all, states offer it. The following states accept the GED:
|Arizona||Georgia||Massachusetts||New Mexico||Rhode Island||Virginia|
|Arkansas||Hawaii||Michigan||North Carolina||South Carolina||Washington|
|California||Idaho||Minnesota||North Dakota||South Dakota||West Virginia|
If your state is not on this list, check with your state’s department of education to find out which tests ARE accepted. Another option is to take the GED in a state that does accept it. Some states allow out-of-state testing and others do not. Check each state’s GED testing policies here.
If you are planning to take the GED, be sure to check out Magoosh’s great GED resources to help you prepare.