High School Equivalency Examination
(formerly GED)

The Virginia Law Explained

High School Equivalency Examination

Although a High School Equivalency Examination (HSE) previously known as General Education Development or GED® credential can be earned by a homeschool student, HEAV recommends students obtain a parent-generated diploma in lieu of a high school equivalency examination credential. This credential comes with a negative stigma that the individual is a drop-out and has not completed high school. A GED® complicates matters for military enlistment.

HSE vs. Diplomas for Homeschooled Students

All references to GED® in the Code of Virginia have been changed to a high school equivalency examination approved by the Virginia Board of Education, effective January 1, 2014. The test that is used for the examination is still referred to as the GED® by the Virginia Department of Education.

Qualified homeschooled students have legal access to the high school equivalency examination (HSE). Through the work of Home Educators Association of Virginia and Home School Legal Defense, home instructed students age 16 or older may pursue this credential option. Virginia Code § 22.1-254.2 describes eligibility for the HSE examination and includes the following references to home-instructed students:

§ 22.1-254.2. Testing for high school equivalency; eligibility; guidelines.

A. The Board of Education shall establish a program of testing for high school equivalency through which a person may pass a high school equivalency examination approved by the Board of Education through which persons may earn a high school equivalency certificate or may earn a diploma as provided in subsection F of § 22.1-253.13:4. The following persons may participate in the testing program:

1. Persons who are at least 18 years of age and not enrolled in public school or not otherwise meeting the school attendance requirements set forth in § 22.1-254;

2. Persons 16 years of age or older who have been instructed by their parents in their home pursuant to § 22.1-254.1 and who have completed such home school instruction;

3. Persons who have been excused from school attendance pursuant to subsections B and D of § 22.1-254;

Updated HSE Requirements

The Virginia Department of Education issued Superintendent’s Memo #010-17, January 13, 2017 all previous superintendents’ memoranda addressing the HSE should be disregarded.

Superintendent’s Memo #010-17 gives the following summary of rules for underage eligibility (students between 16 and 18 years of age) including home instructed students:

1)   Homeschooled Students

Applicants under eighteen years of age, but at least sixteen years of age, must provide the HSE examiner with documentation signed by the superintendent/designee certifying that the applicant has completed a home instruction program.

2)   Students Released from Compulsory Attendance*

Applicants under eighteen years of age, but at least sixteen years of age, must provide the HSE examiner with documentation signed by the division superintendent/designee certifying that the applicant has been released from compulsory attendance by the local school board.

Emancipated and adjudicated minors are subject to the compulsory attendance law, unless released by the local school board.

*Homeschoolers described as “released or excused from compulsory attendance” are religiously exempt students. Parents must provide documentation from the superintendent or his designee certifying the student is no longer under compulsory attendance according to the local school board.

HSE Battery

The 2014 series of the GED® test is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and delivered in a computer-based format only. You may take a GED® Practice Test to determine how ready you are for the actual GED® test. You can find a GED® prep class near you by going to

The GED® includes four tests that measure the skills considered to be the outcomes of a high school education. The tests focus on skills and concepts and the general abilities to analyze, evaluate, and draw conclusions rather than focus on specific facts.

Subject areas include:

Reasoning through Language Arts
Mathematical Reasoning
Social Studies

Individuals may take the full battery of tests up to three times during a calendar year to qualify for a Virginia GED® Certificate.

HSE Test Preparation

For information on what you should do to prepare for the HSE preparation programs in your area, call 877-37MYGED or 877-376-9433. Visit Virginia’s High School Equivalency (HSE) Credential to find information about classes in your area, discover how to study, take a practice test, and register for the test.

HSE Application

Testing applicants are not required to be Virginia residents. However, they must provide documentation of their current residence, whether in Virginia or another state.

An individual must register online to take a HSE examination. Upon arrival at the testing center on the preselected date and time, the examinee must provide a government-issued photograph and signature-bearing identification as required by the HSE examination provider.

If you have questions, please contact Dr. Sue Mansfield, Specialist for High School Equivalency, at or by telephone at (804) 225-3999; or Beverly Godwin, Specialist for Adult Secondary and ISAEP Programs, at or by telephone at (804) 786-7644.