All About the GED: Iowa

Oct 20, 2021

Learn About the High School Equivalency Program in Iowa

Iowa now offers the HiSET equivalency test as a path to an alternative high school diploma. To take the HiSET test in Iowa, applicants must be 18 years of age without meeting any special requirements. Applicants who are 16 can take the test if they are a resident of a state juvenile institution or under the supervision of a probation officer. Interested candidates who are 17 can also take the test, but they will not receive an Iowa Equivalency Diploma until they are 18 or their original high school class graduates.

In addition to age requirements, Iowa also requires all test takers to participate in a test prep program before taking the HiSET exam. You can find a list of test prep programs on the Iowa Dept. of Education website. You must also take the official HiSET practice test, which is half the length of the actual test.

On the day you begin testing, you will need to provide verification that you took the practice test, as well as a valid photo I.D.

Scoring Requirements

The HiSET tests are scored on a scale of 1-20. To pass the exam, you must score at least an 8 on each of the five tests and earn at least 2 of the 6 points on the Language Arts writing essay. If you fall short of the minimum score requirement on any of the tests, you can retake them two more times within a calendar year. However, in order to be eligible to retest, you must either receive certified instruction or wait three months.

Exam Format

The HiSET exam consists of five different sections that can be taken in any order.

  • Language Arts - Reading - This is a 65-minute test with 50 multiple-choice questions that measure your ability to read, understand, analyze and interpret different types of informational and literary text.
  • Launuage Arts - Writing - In Part 1 of this two-part test, there are 60 multiple-choice questions that focus on word organization, clarity, mechanics and usage. In Part 2, you will have to write an essay that demonstrates your ability to develop and organize thoughts and present them in clear and effective language.
  • Mathematics - You will have 90 minutes to answer 55 multiple-choice questions on the math test. The test evaluates your skills with numerical operations, data interpretation, measurements and logical thinking. Questions are based on real-life situations and may test your understanding of concepts such as algebraic patterns and probability. You will be allowed to use a calculator, supplied by the testing center, during the test.
  • Science - The science section of the HiSET exam is 80 minutes long and has 60 multiple-choice questions that cover topics in health, botany, zoology, chemistry, physics and astronomy.
  • Social Studies - You will have 70 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions on the Social Studies test. The questions use a variety of maps, tables, graphs, charts and reading passages to present information that covers history, political science, geography, economics and sociology.

Test Center Locations

You can search for the nearest test center and a schedule of tests on the HiSET website. In Iowa, the five HiSET tests cost $53.75 for computer-delivered test and $75 for paper-delivered test, which includes two retests for each of the five subjects but with an additional $15 test center fee per retest.

Why Get Your High School Equivalency in Iowa?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, most of the country's fastest growing jobs require a high school diploma. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a high school diploma experience less unemployment and higher earnings than those who do not have a diploma. By passing the HiSET exam in Iowa, you will have a high school equivalency diploma to improve your future opportunities for increased earnings and obtaining competitive skills.

Need help preparing for the GED? Check out's GED Test Prep study guides, complete with bite-size video lessons, practice tests, informational resources, and more to make sure you ace the exam!

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