General Educational Development (GED)

General Educational Development (GED)

The GED® Tests are a battery of national tests by which individuals are able to certify that they have mastered the skills expected of today's high school graduates. Worldwide, about one million adults take the GED Tests each year. One out of seven adults in the United States has earned his or her high school credential by means of the GED Tests.

New GED Testing Information

The new computer-based version of the GED® test went into effect as of January 1, 2014.  GED test takers who did not successfully complete the entire five tests of the 2002 Series will need to begin anew of the 2014 GED Test.  The four tested content areas of the 2014 Test measure a foundational core of the knowledge and skills that are essential for career and college readiness.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction sets the requirements for Wisconsin residents.

General Overview

The four content areas covered in the new 2014 GED Test are:

  • Reasoning Through Language Arts
  • Mathematical  Reasoning
  • Science
  • Social Studies

For more information about the GED Tests, see GED Testing Service® Website:
Learner Support classes provide instruction for individuals preparing to take the GED Tests. The record shows that over 90% of individuals that attend GED preparation classes at Western successfully complete the tests. This is about 20% over the national average. A little preparation goes a long way. In addition, you may complete the pre-testing orientation (required by the state for Wisconsin residents) at any of our Western Locations.

Day and evening classes are offered to potential GED test-takers at Western’s Learner Support centers throughout the district. There is no charge for these classes.

All examinees are required to complete the pre-testing and orientation prior to registering for testing.

For more information and class schedules, contact the nearest Western Learner Support Center near you. For orientation dates and to register in La Crosse, please call 608.785.9535.  All other locations, call their main office.

Western Technical College Locations:
Black River Falls: 715.284.2253
Independence: 715.985.3392
La Crosse: 608.785.9535
Mauston: 608.847.7364
Sparta: 608.269.3791
Tomah: 608.374.7700
Viroqua: 608.637.2612
Toll Free Number: 800.322.9982

High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED)

The State of Wisconsin offers Wisconsin residents a variety of ways to earn a Wisconsin High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). The most common way of earning the HSED is to complete the GED test. In addition to this, candidates must meet further requirements related to coursework in health, civic literacy and employability skills.

GED or HSED: Which One is Right for You?

Wisconsin residents have a choice of two high school credentials based on the GED Test. They may choose between the GED and the HSED credential.

"GED" stands for General Educational Development. To earn a GED credential, a candidate must:

  • Be 18 1/2 years old (or the class that the candidate entered in 9th grade has graduated)
  • Have completed the state-mandated Orientation/Careers/Employability Skills class,
  • Pass the GED Tests

HSED stands for High School Equivalency Diploma. To earn the HSED, a candidate must meet further requirements related to coursework in health, civic literacy and employability skills.

How to Order GED/HSED Transcripts and Credentials

If you earned your Certificate of General Educational Development (GED) or your High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) in Wisconsin (while a resident) and need a duplicate, or you need a Certified Transcript of your GED/HSED scores sent to a school, employer, etc., you must contact the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Click here for more information and a convenient order form

Note: GED® and the GED Testing Service® are registered trademarks of the American Council on Education and may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the American Council on Education.

Competency Based HSED Option 5.09

The 5.09 competency based HSED program offers students an alternative method for earning the HSED without taking the GED test. The program is for individuals who can, in a classroom setting, demonstrate mastery of skills expected of Wisconsin high school graduates, but who would be unable to demonstrate those competencies in a formal, timed, testing environment. The program is open to Wisconsin residents with limited English proficiency or those who have been referred by their classroom instructors. 5.09 students must make a serious commitment to attending classes. On average, it takes two years to complete the program.

Western's 5.09 option is a flexible, modified open-entry, competency-based program designed to award a High School Equivalency Diploma to students who meet competencies in the following required areas:

  • Applied Reading and Study Skills (general science, social studies, and geography content)
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Quality of Life: Consumerism, Career Awareness and Employability, Computer Literacy and Basic Word Processing, Health and Civics

Adult High School Credit Program

For past high school students no longer enrolled in high school.  The Adult High School Credit program allows individuals to earn their high school diploma from the last high school attended. This program is for students who are near completion of the high school diploma (2 credits of less). Students earn credits by attending classes at Western and completing courses of study that their high schools will accept for graduation requirements. Before a student can begin the program, the student's high school must enter into an agreement with Western to honor the credits earned here. Please note that not all high schools participate in this program. 

Adult High School Credit is available at the following Western locations:  La Crosse, Mauston and Tomah.  Please call the La Crosse Learner Support and Transition Division for more details - 608.785.9535.

Credit classes are as follows:


English 9, 10, 11 and 12, Literature & Composition, Modules 1, 2 and 3.

Science (Mauston and Tomah locations only)

Biology, Environmental Science, Physical Science.


General Math I & II, Senior Math, Algebra I & II, Geometry.

Social Studies

United States History I & II, World History I & II, Government, Economics, Geography.

Alternative High School, Wisconsin Statute 118.15

Students between the ages of 16 and 18 who are at risk of not graduating from their local high schools may attend Western as an alternative high school.

These students may either earn credits that will apply to their graduation requirements, or work toward completion of their High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED).

It is necessary that a parent or guardian, a representative from the sponsoring high school and representative from Western enter into a written agreement that defines the services that will be provided to the student.

Contact your high school for more information regarding Western’s Alternative High School option.

Evening & Summer School for High School Students (Partnering for Success)

High School Credit Recovery – High school students needing to make up credit for high school completion may enroll at Western in a limited number of class offerings.  High schools must be contracted with Western through our Partnering for Success program in order for their students to take advantage of our offerings.  Classes run in the evening during our fall and spring semester and they run during the day for the summer semester.  Students will need to contact their high school to enroll.  *Please note that class (es) may be cancelled due to low enrollment.

High school credit recovery classes are offered at the Mauston, Tomah and La Crosse locations only.  To find out if your high school is part of our Partnering for Success program, please call La Crosse’s Learner Support and Transition Division at 608-785-9535.

High School COMPASS Brush-up – High school students who have taken, or plan on taking the COMPASS test, and need help brushing up on their skills maybe get help with us.  Areas of study are math, reading and language.

High schools must be part of our Partnering for Success program in order to have their students participate.  Classes will need to be scheduled outside of the regular high school day.  Student’s class time will be held in the evening during the fall and spring semester and during the day over the summer semester.  Students may start brush-up classes any time during the regular semester.

  • High schools interested in participating in our Partnering for Success program should contact Western Technical College at 608.785.9535.