Hiset Essays

How you prepare for the HiSET® exam depends on you — how much time you want to spend and how you like to study for exams. But, before you take the HiSET exam, there are some things you need to know:

  • what to expect during the entire process, like how to create an account, schedule your appointments and get your scores
  • what topics the subtests cover and what types of questions you'll see — multiple choice, essay or both
  • the amount of time you'll have to take each subtest
  • what identification you'll need to show at the test center to be allowed to test

Below are some helpful tips and strategies to help you do your best on the HiSET exam.

Approach the test for success.

  1. Learn what the test covers.
    See Test Content to learn more about what's on the test.
  2. Figure out how well you know the content.
    The longer it's been since you were in school, the more preparation you'll probably need.
  3. Plan your study time.
    Give yourself plenty of time to study so you don't have to "cram" new material right before your appointment. Here are a few tips:
    • Choose a test date far enough in the future to leave you plenty of time to prepare.
    • Set a realistic study schedule and stick to it!

Use smart test-taking strategies.

Multiple-choice questions

All of the subtests contain multiple-choice questions.

When taking the computer-delivered HiSET exam, you can:

  • skip questions and come back to them
  • view a complete list of all the questions in the section
  • see if you've missed any questions
  • review questions and change your answers

Essay questions

Only the Language Arts – Writing subtest has an essay question.

While you work on your essay, remember to budget your time. You need to allow yourself enough time to think about the question, plan your response and write the essay.

Save a few minutes at the end of the essay part of your exam to check for obvious errors. Although an occasional typographical, spelling or grammatical error will not affect your score, severe and persistent errors will weaken the overall effectiveness of your writing and lower your score.


You'll have a calculator for the Mathematics subtest. If you're taking the paper-delivered test, your test center will give you a handheld calculator. If you're taking the computer-delivered test, it will be on-screen. Please note the subtest does not require a calculator; however, the decision for the type of calculator used is up to your state.

Scratch paper

You'll receive scratch paper before the exam starts. You can ask the test administrator for more scratch paper if you need it. You can only have up to three sheets at a time, so the test administrator will collect your used scratch paper before giving you more. At the end of the test session, the test administrator will collect your scratch paper. You can't take it with you.


You'll get breaks between subtests if you're taking more than one in one day.

Unscheduled breaks are usually not allowed. If you have to take a break, you'll need to get permission from the test center staff. Please be advised that the clock will not be stopped. It will continue throughout your break, and you won't get any additional time.

GED Essay Topics

Below are the instructions as you will see them on the actual GED test.  To give yourself some experience with the testing situation, find a quiet place that you can write for 45 minutes.  Read the directions, then randomly choose a topic.  Do not look through the topics before you choose.  This will help you with the testing situation because you are assigned a topic at the test; there is no choice. 

Use the Plan for Success below to ensure a good essay.  When it's complete, turn it in to me either handwritten or via email.  I'll give you feedback and a score according to the GED scoring rubric.

45 minute Plan for Success

Read directions and topic:  3 minutes

Prewriting (freewriting, brainstorming, clustering or mapping, etc.): 5 minutes

Organize (write a thesis statement or controlling idea and outline main ideas): 3 minutes

Draft (write the essay): 20 minutes

Revise (read through the essay and make changes to ideas): 8 minutes

Edit (check for correctness in grammar and spelling): 6 minutes


GED Essay Testing Simulation

Essay Directions and Topic

Look at the box on the following page.  In the box are your assigned topic and the letter of that topic. (For this assignment, choose one of the links below.)

 You must write on the assigned topic ONLY.

 *Mark the letter of your assigned topic in the appropriate space on your answer sheet booklet.  Be certain that all other requested information is properly recorded in your answer sheer booklet.

 You will have 45 minutes to write on your assigned essay topic.  *If you have time remaining in this test period after you complete your essay, you may return to the multiple-choice section.  Do not return the Language Arts, Writing Test booklet until you finish both Parts I and II of the Language Arts, Writing Test.

 Two evaluators will score your essay according to its overall effectiveness.  Their evaluation will be based on the following features:

 ·        Well-focused main points

·        Clear organization

·        Specific development of your ideas

·        Control of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice and spelling


 ·        Do not leave pages blank.

·        Write legibly in ink so that the evaluators will be able to read your writing.

·        Write on the assigned topic.  If you write on a topic other than the one assigned, you will not receive a score for the Language Arts, Writing Test.

·        Write your essay on the lined pages of the separate answer sheet booklet.  Only the writing on these pages will be scored.


You may return to the multiple-choice section after you complete your essay if you have time remaining in this test period.  Do not return the Language Arts, Writing booklet until you finish both Parts I and II of the Language Arts, Writing Test. 

*Indicates instructions included in actual testing situation and not necessarily used for simulation.

 Source: Official GED Practice Test: Language Arts, Writing; American Council on Education

Choose ONE topic below and do not change your choice.


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