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high school equivalency instruction (english and spanish)

“your fresh start begins now!!”

high school equivalency classes are for adults (16 years or older) who have left high school prior to completing all requirements necessary to receive a diploma. instruction in five subject areas is offered in preparation for the hiset exam. potential students of high school age are required to show proof of withdrawal from high school since no one may be enrolled in both the ael program and high school at the same time. the request for admission to test/age waiver for high school equivalency diploma form must be completed prior to attending orientation. please note that while a 16 year old may attend class to prepare for the hiset exam, access to the actual hiset test is not possible until an individual reaches 17 years of age. 

to begin, students must: 

  1. attend an orientation session with a hsed instructor. 
  2. if applicable, complete and return the required request for admission to test/age waiver for high school equivalency diploma form.
  3. complete an application. 
  4. take a reading and math casas pre-assessment. 
  5. attend and complete direct instruction classes. 

check out the following hsed options at iowa lakes:

  1. online instruction – online instruction is beneficial for students who have transportation, work schedule, family, or health issues preventing them from attending face-to-face classes. ael instructors communicate and monitor online progress. all five exam disciplines are included in instruction: math, reading, science, social studies, and writing. students must complete all required coursework in order to stay enrolled in the ael program. all assessments, tests, and exams must be completed at an iowa lakes campus. this option may not be for everyone so individuals need to discuss this options with an instructor. an instructors recommendation will allow you to access this option.
  2. hse hybrid class – this 8-week class option is held at ilcc campus locations in blended format face to face hours as well as an online study option. students will received instruction in all 5 exam disciplines: math, reading, science, social studies, and writing. since class location and times vary due to demand, contact the ael program for our most recent schedule. remember that there are attendance requirements in ael classes. 
  3. spanish hse class – this is a high school completion option for spanish-speakers. this class is held face-to-face on the estherville campus. preparation for all five exams in spanish is provided. attendance is mandatory to remain in the ael program. potential students who are not already fluent in spanish reading, writing, and speaking will not be enrolled in the spanish hse class, but can be enrolled in esl classes. 

additional information: 

  1. passing scores on official practice tests are required prior to registering for any official hiset exam. 
  2. no student, no matter how high their academic skill level, can meet all program requirements in less than one month. the ael program does not guarantee students will complete hsed requirements within any specific timeframe. 
  3. testing centers for hiset exams are located in emmetsburg and estherville. 
  4. students must register and schedule their own hiset exams through students can pay for one test at a time. 
  5. after successfully completing hiset requirements, graduates must request their high school equivalency diploma and transcript by visiting
  6. every ael student who successfully completes the hsed program is eligible to receive a $500 scholarship to continue their education at iowa lakes community college. students must complete a scholarship application by the required date in order to receive the hsed scholarship.
  7. a graduation ceremony held each spring recognizes those who complete the hiset exam during the program year. 


  • in january 2018, the iowa state board of education adopted an administrative rule change establishing alternative pathways for an iowa to earn a high school equivalency diploma. please check with ael staff to determine your best option.
  • there are many sites that claim you can receive your ged or hsed from them, but be aware there are many scam sites. in iowa, you can only obtain your hsed from an ael program.
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