TASC vs. GED

tascMany people say the TASC test is the hardest of all the High School Equivalency exams. But is that true? In this article, we will compare the TASC with the GED, which is still offered by the majority of states.

As with the new GED and the HiSET, content for the TASC test is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Compared to the old GED, prior to 2014, the TASC is noticeably harder because the Common Core State Standards now require a higher level of academic achievement.

TASC’s passing standard is based on a national sample of recent high school graduates. Students who pass all areas of the test are around the 60th percentile (top 60%) of the recent high school students. In fact, all three High School Equivalency Exams are designed to yield similar passing rates.

So, does this mean the TASC and the GED are equal in terms of their difficulty level? Surprisingly, the answer is no. It all depends on your strengths and weaknesses.

The GED math section allows you to use a calculator for all questions except the first five. By comparison, half of the TASC math section contains non-calculator questions. However, the GED requires more writing than the TASC. Overall, the two tests are very similar but the TASC test has more questions that require specific content knowledge. In comparison, the GED requires content knowledge only at a definition level, but has more interdisciplinary questions. These differences will make a difference in scores for high level students.

Let’s compare the two tests with example. Here is a TASC science question:

Potassium chlorate (KCIO3) is a crystalline solid that can undergo thermal decomposition to form solid potassium chloride (KCI) and gaseous oxygen (O2) when heat is added. The chemical equation for this reaction is shown.

2KClO_3 + heat \rightarrow 2KCl_3 + 3O_2

The table lists the molar masses of the elements involved in this reaction:

Element Symbol Molar Mass (grams/mole)
Potassium K 39.10
Chlorine CI 35.45
Oxygen O 16.00

If 5.00 grams of KCIO3 (0.0408 moles) undergoes decomposition to produce 3.04 grams of KCI, which equation shows the predicted amount of oxygen that will be produced?

Answer D: 0.0408moles X 3moles/2moles X 32.00grams/mole =1.95 grams

Note that this question requires you to have in-depth knowledge of chemical compounds, units and chemical reactions. Compare this with a science question from the GED:

Researchers collected data to determine volumetric bone density for four samples. The data are recorded in the table below.

Bone Density Data

Sample Mass of Sample (g) Volume of Sample (cm3)
1 6.8 22.6
2 1.7 5.4
3 3.6 11.3
4 5.2 17.4

Density (g/cm3) = Mass (g) / Volume (cm3)

What is the average bone density for the data samples provided?

Answer C: 0.31g/cm3

Notice that this question doesn’t require you to have knowledge about bone density or even the density formula (as it is provided). On the other hand, it requires you to have knowledge of statistics and perform a math operation by calculating the average.

Both the examples were on the difficult side of the TASC and GED. To get a feel of the actual TASC test, try the official practice tests at http://www.tasctest.com/practice-items-for-test-takers.html

General Rules for the TASC Test

  • There are five subject areas:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Mathematics
    • Science
    • Social Studies
  • The minimum passing score is 500 for each subject on a scale of 300 to 800.
  • The Writing test has 50 multiple choice questions and an essay.
  • The essay is scored separately from the rest of the Writing section. You need to score at least 500 in the multiple choice AND 2 out of 8 on the essay to pass the Writing test.
  • You can’t pass the test if you fail any one subject.
  • Starting sometime in 2015, you will also receive a second score called the Career and College Readiness score. A student who passes the CCR could expect to earn a C or better in freshmen level college courses.
  • The test is taken either on a computer or on paper.
  • A Mathematics Reference Sheet is provided for the Math test.
  • An on-screen or handheld calculator is provided for the Science and part of the Math tests.
  • There is no penalty for a wrong answer.

 

7 comments

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an really long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to
    say fantastic blog!

  2. Suzie

    So, I just passed the TASC test with my scored over 500 and I feel wonderful. I doubted myself. I was the first one in and first one out. Now let me oppose a question; is the TASC better than the GED and a High school diploma? Should I feel really smart right now?

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