Is the CHSPE the Same as the GED?


In California, students can receive their diploma by taking the California High School Proficiency Examination.  If the person passes the CHSPE, he receives a diploma that, by law, is to be considered the same as a regular diploma.  Sound familiar? It’s an absolute fact that this is similar in concept to the better-known General Education Diploma (or GED). However, the two are not synonymous. It’s important that you know how the two exams are similar–and how they differ.

Another test is the HiSET® exam, which gives you a state-issued high school equivalency.

What is the CHSPE? 

It’s likely that you know what the GED is, so to understand how it’s similar to and different from the GED, let’s first explain what the exam is. The CHSPE is a test which assesses a person’s proficiency in the three basic academic disciplines: reading, writing, arithmetic.  Those who pass this test are given a Certificate of Proficiency. State law declares that this certificate is to be treated as equal to a regular high school diploma.

How the CHSPE is Similar to the GED

The parallels to the GED are obvious. Both lead to a diploma that is accepted by employers and schools on the same level as a high school diploma. Both test similar academic areas. Both tests are offered at the same types of places–schools and centers which offer adult-education classes.  And both are paths that an adult learner who come to regret dropping out of school may take to correct the error of his youth.

Detailed info on the GED and the American Council on Education.

Detailed info on the CHSPE and  HERE.


The GED covers four subjects: language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.

The CHSPE covers two subjects: English language arts (Reading and Writing) and mathematics.


The GED is a computer-based test, while the CHSPE is a paper-and-pencil test. How to write a computer test

Both tests are multiple choice – Help with multiple choice


The GED is scored on a scale of 100-200 points per subject, with a passing score of 145 points per subject.

The CHSPE is scored on a scale of 250-450 points per subject, with a passing score of 350 points per subject.


The GED is available in all 50 states of the USA and also in some other countries, the Canadian GED is only available in Canada. The CHSPE is only available in California.

Age Requirements

The GED has no age requirement, but most states require test-takers to be at least 18 years old or have completed their high school education.  In Canada, the age limit to take the GED varies by Province.

The CHSPE can be taken by students who are at least 16 years old or have completed the 10th grade.

How the CHSPE is Different from the GED 

However, there are at least as many differences between the exams as there are similarities. For starters, the CHSPE is known as an early-exit exam. This means that whereas almost everyone who takes the GED does so a year or several years after dropping out of school, a 16 or 17-year old can take the CHSPE while still in school, and if he passes, be exempted from continuing in high school. The parents must approve his dropping out, however.

Also, the GED offers areas pertaining to social studies and science–disciplines not covered in the CHSPE. This has been the source of a bit of controversy, since some critics say that schools should not be giving their blessing on someone dropping out of school without learning some science and government basics. Another problem is that if these students decide to go to college, often they are missing a science or social studies class which the school makes a prerequisite. As a result, they are forced to find some other way of meeting that prerequisite.

There is one area where many people thing the GED and CHSPE are different, but they really are much closer than believed. Specifically, some people think the CHSPE is not recognized outside of California. On the contrary, the great majority of employers and schools in other states will accept this certificate in lieu of a regular high school diploma.

Which One?

So if you’re from California, which of the two tests should you take? If the goal is to exit school early, only the CHSPE will fit your needs. However, if you’re an adult who wants to complete your education, either will work, although the GED brings with it knowledge of a broader range of subjects.

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Written by,

Date Published: Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Date Modified: Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

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  1. Lisa Singer
    January 20, 2011

    Do you know if the CHSPE is offered in other sates besides California? I know that with the GED you can get it in any state and even online.

    • cheryl boyd
      January 17, 2013

      Can you tell me how to receive a ged me the iformation.thank you cheryl

    • Brieanna Williams
      July 24, 2017

      Yes they take the test in other States – look up Southeastern High School in Florida – I just finish up mine and am waiting for my scores. Have a blessed day.

  2. peggymoore
    May 18, 2011

    I found this article very useful as it provided me lot of information about the GED test , how to prepare for it and passing it with flying colors. I would like to add some more information where you can get the lowest priced preparation program and and get the latest news and updates on GED test.

  3. Brian
    June 10, 2011

    Glad that you are enjoying the site.

  4. January 13, 2016

    Can a Canadian Resident who is 16 yrs old and has been in grade 10 for a year still take the CHSPE exam in the USA? Or do you have to be a US citizen only to do this test? Is there a CHSPE in Canada?

    Please email my address above. Thank you for your help


    • Complete Test Prep
      January 17, 2016

      It is not clear – Here is the official FAQ –

      Who may take the CHSPE?
      A person may take the CHSPE only if he or she meets one of the following requirements on the test date:

      He or she is at least 16 years old, or
      He or she has been enrolled in the tenth grade for one academic year or longer, or
      He or she will complete one academic year of enrollment in the tenth grade at the end of the semester during which the CHSPE regular administration (spring or fall) will be conducted.

      Note that “being enrolled in the tenth grade” most likely refers to the US tenth grade.

    • Annie
      February 16, 2016

      Hi sherri,

      I’m sorry to inform you but it isn’t possible for a canadian citizen to take the test in the US and have it valid in Canada. Even the CHSPE isn’t valid in most states in our country, so I highly doubt it would be valid in Canada. However, if you are looking for a way to leave highschool early, I suggest you make annappointment with your academic counselors to see if there is any way for you to pursue the path you want to in a quick and efficient manner.

      • Salleel Shah
        April 1, 2020

        Hi Annie,
        My family is considering moving to London. I have aready paid and registerd for the CHSPE this year, so I will definitely take it before we ever move. I was just wondering if it would pass in London? And if not do you know any other options?

  5. KC
    November 25, 2016

    The CHSPE is not necessarily for high school dropouts, and I believe this should be reflected in your article. Some teens take the exam in order to graduate early and begin their college studies sooner than they otherwise would have, or to pursue technical or other trade training (rather than studying additional years of social studies or math which may or may not benefit them throughout their lives). Others work to help their families, having legally graduated via this route. One who has stopped attending high school after passing the CHSPE exam (& after having received parental permission, if they’re under 18) is not a high school dropout; such an individual is a graduate. I see early graduation as an honor, not a mistake made in youth.

    • Brian
      November 26, 2016

      Very good points! We are re-vamping all the content on the site and will include your comments in an updated version of this post when we get to it. This is quite an old post. In the meantime I will leave your comment up and many thanks!

    • zaaf
      April 11, 2017

      KC…. I totally agree with you. I was an over achiever and (I realize it’s cliche) but dreaded going to school to listen to lectures that I got right away or already understood and/or read about on my own. I quit going to school after the 8th grade because I was bored. There wasn’t AP classes back then like there are now. Or college prep schools like my son is enrolled in.

      So I took a couple of years off and then got my CHSPE. Afterwards I went on to college a year earlier than my friends, scoring much higher on my ACT exam than most did after four years of high school. I did end up falling into the same pit and stopped college after a semester. I realized I just love to learn on my own terms, not by what’s dictated to me. So I guess technically I am a ‘dropout’ with an asterisk but your last statement is so on the mark. Well said.

      I am very thankful for the program and am now the owner of a successful IT Support company. Some people don’t need the same education (or want it) but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful or should be looked down upon or considered less worthy than a high school grad with 4 years of mostly meaningless studies. (my opinion)

      Last point… Why would an IT professional need to learn chemistry and similar classes that don’t suit my goals in life? Maybe I took a shortcut but I don’t feel I suffered from it… not at all.

      Brian, good site. Thanks for sharing the info and providing the forum.

  6. MA
    October 9, 2017

    Can one take the CHSPE if they left high school before graduating, instead of the GED? The CHSPE site asks for a high school district enrolled in. Is the GED the only option if a teen did not complete high school?

  7. kamryn
    December 3, 2020

    i am a resident of California looking to take the chspe as soon as I am able to. my question is, if I take the test and move out of state later in life, would jobs in other states accept the chspe certificate? or would the ged be a better option?

    • Brian Stocker
      December 4, 2020

      I believe it is accepted outside California – I would double check though – The GED is harder but it is the better overall choice

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