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 test is a computer based, five-subject 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 requirement.

Ready to begin testing? See Step 4 below.

These tests must be taken on a computer. For your convenience, Madison college offers both testing services and preparation classes at several MATC locations, including Fort Atkinson, Portage, Reedsburg and Watertown.


GED/HSED Completion Steps

  • 1. Attend a Pre-Test Session
    To attend this session, you must be at least 18 1/2 years old and your high school class has graduated OR you must be under a contract with a program or agency. If you do not meet this criteria, you should contact the Madison College Compulsory Law Program at (608)258-2435.

    Madison Campuses

    • This session will take approximately three hours
    • Registration is required
    • At the session, you will take the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE)
    • Please bring a valid ID to the session
    • At the end of the session, you will set up an appointment with a Transition Specialist

    Regional Campuses

    • You will complete the mandatory state requirement of career planning and employability skills - you may complete career planning and employability skills through another qualified, approved Community-Based Organization
    • You will be offered the opportunity to explore career options as well as focus on job searching techniques
    • Assistance in creating or modifying a resume is available
  • 2. Meet with a Transition Specialist
    • You will discuss your GED/HSED Pre-Test Session assessment
    • You will discuss your high school completion options
    • Register for classes if needed and determine your next steps
    • You will receive assistance to transition into your post-secondary plans
  • 3. Attend a Test Ready Session

    Register for a Test Ready Session

    Madison Campuses

    • The session takes approximately three hours to complete
    • There will be an overview of the testing processes and procedures
    • You will complete the mandatory state requirement of career planning and employability skills
    • You will be offered the opportunity to explore career options as well as focus on job searching techniques
    • Bring your completed paperwork to the Test Ready Session to receive credit for completion
    • Bring a valid ID and a completed Ticket to Test Ready to this session

    Regional Campuses

    • You will create your account and practice on the website
    • You will learn how to prepare, register and pay for your exams
    • You will learn about the check-in process and expectations in the test room
    • The session takes approximately two hours to complete
  • 4. Take the Official Exams
    • Once you have completed the Test Ready Session, 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 30 day waiting period before retesting is allowed
  • Health Requirement (HSED Only)
    There are three options for meeting the additional HSED requirement.
    • Health requirement: 1/2 high school credit of health in grades 7-12; successful completion of health course; or pass the health exam. 
    • Health testing session takes approximately 1.5 hours and costs $5.
    • Registration by appointment only. Contact Testing Center - GED (608) 246-5220 option 2. 
    • 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 ID to this session.
    • There is a 60 day waiting period before retesting is allowed.
  • Next Steps after GED/HSED Completion
    • After completing your High School credential, work with a School of Academic Advancement (SAA) Transition Specialist to get enrolled in post-secondary classes. If you need to make an appointment with a Transition Specialist, contact SAA at (608) 258-2440.
    • Put a request in at the Testing Center to have transcripts sent to Madison College Admissions. Contact the Testing Center at (608)246-5220 to make your request.
    • As part of the application process for Madison College, a Course Placement Test will be required.
    • Madison College GED/HSED graduates will have the Course Placement Test fee waived if taken within 30 days of credential completion.
    • A score of 165+ in the Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) exam waives the English portions of the Placement Test that includes Reading, Sentence Skills and Write-Placer. Math placement test will be necessary.
    • Apply to Madison College.
  • 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 4 GED tests and the Civics test and complete the career/employability workshop.

    5.05 - HSED (High School Equivalency Diploma) - Pass the 4 GED tests and Civics test, career/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 60. 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 30 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 e-mail from Pearson VUE explaining ID requirements. Be sure to read the email carefully. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO TEST IF YOU DO NOT MEET THE EXAM IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

Students are required to provide one valid form of identification. The ID must be GOVERNMENT ISSUED and NON-EXPIRED. It 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.