Tests to receive a high school diploma can vary from an accredited diploma equivalency exam, to a state mandated high school exit exam, to diplomas offered by schools with virtual classrooms. The value of a test to receive a high school diploma, is dependent on the accreditation of the school or organization providing the test, and the test score's acceptance by employers and universities. For this reason, it is important to as much as possible about the high school diploma test that you plan to take.


A GED, or general education diploma, is a test that prospective students or adults can take in place of attending a high school and building a transcript with required credits. The test is sponsored by the American Council on Education, and is offered in testing centers throughout the US. Students must receive a cumulative score of 2250, or a mean score of 450 to pass this test.

State Exit Exams

States like California and Arkansas offer a high school exit exam, which is administered to high school students before graduation status will be granted. Exit exams cover the subjects and topics taught in all public schools in the state, and are intended to ensure that all students achieve grade level competency. Most of these tests are divided by the content areas of language arts and mathematics, but some states also include social studies and science components. Some state exist exams are aligned with the No Child Left Behind standardized testing laws.

College Entrance Exams

College entrance exams are standardized tests that coincide with receiving a high school diploma, if a student plans to attend college. These tests include the ACT, the SAT, and the PSAT. These tests cover knowledge that all students are expected to have learned by the eleventh grade. Attaining these scores will not directly affect receiving a high school diploma, but they greatly impact what a student can do with a high school diploma i.e. which college they are able to attend and what they are able to study.

Virtual Schools

Websites exist that offer virtual classrooms for students who do not wish or are unable to attend a regular school, or adults who are too old for the public school system, or work full time. These classes vary in their promise to either prepare students for the GED, or grant their own in-house testing and diploma equivalency upon completion of the program. It is important to verify the accreditation of programs offering an in-house exam or diploma equivalency.

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