GED/HSED Testing

Most employers today require at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. The GED and HSED are high school equivalency tests that meet this requirement. The GED/HSED test is a computer based, five high school equivalency exam that measures skills expected of high school graduates. The GED is accepted by most employers, technical colleges and community colleges. However, some employers, universities and branches of the military require a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED).

To earn a GED or HSED in Wisconsin, you must:

  • Be at least 18 1/2 years old
  • Be a Wisconsin resident or have lived in the state for at least 10 days, or be a migrant worker or the child of a migrant worker
  • Not be currently enrolled in a high school
  • Not have a high school diploma

The five GED content areas are:

  • Reasoning through Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Civics (Effective March 1, the Civics exam is available through

An HSED includes the same five GED exams and the additional Health and Employability Skills requirements.

GED/HSED Completion Steps

  • Attend a GED/HSED Testing Orientation - in Madison

    You must have completed all the previous steps before registering for a GED/HSED Testing Orientation. Contact the School of Academic Advancement with any questions. A valid photo ID is required to attend the orientation.

    Register for GED/HSED Testing Orientation

    The Testing Orientation is approximately two hours and includes:

    • Review of Testing Center processes and procedures
    • Receipt of free Civics voucher for Madison College students
    • Processing of your paperwork
    • Creation of an on-line account for tracking scores
  • Attend a Pre-Test Session - Outside of Madison

    This is the first step in the process to obtain a GED or HSED. At the session you will take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE) to help determine if you would benefit from classes before beginning your official testing.

    Registration is required


    You must have completed the previous steps to earn your GED/HSED before registering for the Test Ready session. Please call the campus to schedule an appointment.

  • Take the Official Exams
    • Once you have completed the Test Ready Session (outside of Madison) OR the Testing Orientation (within Madison), you can begin taking the official GED/HSED exams.
    • You must register online for the exams.
    • Bring a valid ID to this session
    • There is a 10-day waiting period before retesting is allowed
  • Health Requirement (HSED Only)
    There are three options for meeting the additional HSED requirement:
    1. 1/2 credit of high school health (grades 7-12)
    2. Successful completion of health course
    3. Pass the health exam


    About the Health Exam

    The testing session takes approximately 1.5 hours and costs $5. You must make an appointment for a session by calling the Testing Center at (608) 246-5220 and select option 3. 

    Payment is made at the Testing Center - checks and money orders should be made payable to 'Madison College'. Cash payments are not accepted.

    Bring a valid photo ID to this session.

    There is a 60-day waiting period before retesting is allowed.

  • GED/HSED Transcript Information

    Copies of a GED/HSED Transcript and Credential earned in Wisconsin can be obtained through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

    If you need your transcript for Madison College admission and you tested at any of the Madison College campuses, please contact the Testing Center for verification.

  • FAQ

    How long does it take to get my GED or HSED?

    It will depend on what grade you dropped out of, how long it’s been since you were in school, and what you have been doing in that time. How much time you dedicate to studying for the tests will also affect the total time it takes to obtain your diploma. Some students can pass all four exams in one month, while other students will take a year or longer to finish.

    What options are there for earning my high school diploma?

    5.04 - GED (General Educational Development certificate) - Pass the four GED tests and the Civics test and complete the career workshop.

    5.05 - HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma) - Pass the four GED tests and Civics test, career and employability workshop and meet the requirements in health awareness.

    5.06 - High School credit options - you may qualify for this option if you have earned at least 22 semester high school credits, in certain subject areas (English, Social Studies, Science, Math and Health).

    5.07 - Post Secondary credit option - you may qualify for this option if you have earned at least 24 semester college credits, in certain subject areas.

    5.08 - Foreign Diploma option - you may qualify for this option if you graduated from high school in a different country - you will need to provide a diploma and transcript, translated into English.

    5.09 - Competency based diploma  - classroom based diploma option - students commit to at least one year of classwork to work through all the competencies for their high school diploma.

    Please contact the Testing Center for more information and to learn about the other additional requirements for these high school completion options.

    Is keyboarding speed a big issue for the GED tests?

    Yes. Typing practice is recommended as part of the study plan for the GED tests.

    What is a passing score on each test?

    Each of the four tests is worth up to 200 points. A minimum score of 145 on each of the tests is required for passing. On the 100 question Civics test, you will need a passing score of 65. On the 90 question Health test, you will need a minimum passing score of 55.

    How many retakes do I get if I don’t pass the first time?

    Students are allowed to retest if needed. For the first two retakes, students must wait 10 days between testing times. For every additional retake, students must wait 60 days between testing.

    Are accommodations available for the GED exams?

    Yes, a range of accommodations are available based on the needs of candidates with disabilities. The need must be documented by a qualified medical professional. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to: extra time, a private room, frequent breaks, an interpreter, a scribe, a calculator, etc. Please contact the Testing Center for more information.

    What is the cost for the GED?

    The cost for obtaining your GED is $145. This includes the four GED exams ($30 per test), the Civics exam ($10) and a diploma fee ($15). The HSED has an additional cost for the health exams ($5). Retest fees are applicable if a passing score is not obtained on the first try. For the GED, fees are paid by voucher, credit card or debit card when scheduling your testing appointment online. A limited number of GED vouchers are available if payment of the test fees would present a substantial financial hardship. Financial hardship is determined by an application process and verified by the Testing Office. If you have questions about whether you qualify for financial assistance, please contact the Testing Center.

    Who issues my GED or HSED Diploma?

    The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) issues all GED and HSED Diplomas and Transcripts.

Testing Identification Requirements

When you register for your GED test, you will receive an email from Pearson VUE explaining ID requirements. Be sure to read the email carefully. You will not be allowed to test if you do not present your photo identification.

Students are required to provide one valid form of identification:

  • must be government issued
  • must not be expired 
  • must include the student's name, address, date of birth, signature and a photo

The following forms of ID are acceptable:

  • Passport
  • Driver's license
  • Learners permit
  • National or state ID Card 
  • Any other form of government-issued ID (national or foreign) including Marticula Consular.