4 Myths and Facts Around the High School Equivalency Exams

Published January 26, 2015

By Communications Team

“Wait, the GED is a test, not a degree?”

The reports come in again and again: Workers with a high school diploma or equivalency earn dramatically more than those who don’t. Now, with a new generation of high school equivalency exams in full swing, many of the people thinking about taking one of these exams have been left with a lot of questions. What are my options? Do I really not need to take the GED® test to get my equivalency certificate?

To provide some clarity about the new landscape of high school equivalency exams, McGraw-Hill CTB, developer of the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ highlights and dispels a few common myths surrounding today’s high school equivalency exams.

Myth #1: “Getting your GED” and attaining a High School Equivalency certificate are the same thing. Whether you’re actively seeking to obtain a high school equivalency degree or you’re just casually familiar with the process, there’s a good chance that you consider “getting your GED” and “getting a high school equivalency diploma” to be the same thing.

In fact, they’re not. First, the GED is not the name of any degree or certificate – it’s just a set of tests that can be used to determine whether a test-taker is qualified to receive a high school equivalency degree. Second, the GED is only one example of those tests (the TASC test being another popular option). In many states, test takers can obtain their equivalency degrees without ever encountering a GED test, and in no state will those degrees contain the word “GED.”

Think of the GED like Kleenex: it’s a brand name, not a product—or in this case, a degree.

Myth #2: The TASC test and other high school equivalency exam alternatives are more difficult than the GED. The truth is that all modern high school equivalency tests – including the new GED test – are designed to meet the same set of new College and Career Readiness standards that have been applied to high schools throughout the United States. As a result, all equivalency tests currently in use are more rigorous than those that were used in previous years. That’s a good thing – it guarantees that equivalency test takers meet the same level of achievement as graduating high school seniors and, more importantly, that they have the practical skills they need to succeed in today’s job market. So far, test takers have adapted quite well to the new test.

FACT #1: If you took part of the GED in the past, it will count as credit toward the TASC test. Based on grandfathering programs offered in some states, test takers who have completed some sections of the 2002 series GED® test are eligible to earn their high school equivalency credential by taking the remaining sections of TASC test or another modern equivalency test. This enables test takers to combine scores earned now with test results taken in the past to qualify to earn a diploma.

Note: Not all states offer grandfathering programs, and most grandfathering programs only last through 2015. Prospective test takers are encouraged to consult with their state office to determine the policies of their state.

FACT #2: There are plenty of reliable resources and study guides for the new tests. There are a variety of options out there to help test takers succeed on their equivalency exams. Local test centers offer regular classes leading up to the test, and study guides and practice exams are available from numerous sources. McGraw-Hill CTB offers several resources, including the McGraw-Hill TASC test guide, which provides students with a comprehensive review and practice in all five exam subject areas (Reading, Writing, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies); Common Core Achieve, a fully adaptive study program to help potential test takers prepare for the TASC test; and a complimentary practice test item sampler and official TASC Test Readiness Assessment.

To order a copy of the TASC Test Readiness Assessment contact CTB/McGraw-Hill TASC Test Customer Support at TASCtest_helpdesk@ctb.com or call 888.282.0589.

Earning a high school equivalency is the first step toward expanding professional opportunities and increasing earning potential, but for many it’s even more than that. As New York test taker Mike Puccio recently said, “The main reason [I decided to get my diploma] was actually the possibility that my child would follow my footprints by one day not wanting to continue his education. I now would have a chance at convincing him that it is important and it’s never too late!” Interested in obtaining a high school equivalency certificate?

The TASC test is available at test locations in approved TASC test states, which include numerous community colleges and adult learning facilities. You may have the option to register yourself online or decide where to take the exam. Explore your test taking options at http://www.tasctest.com/test-center-locations-for-test-takers.html.