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Taking the High School Equivalency Exam

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > School & Preschool > Taking the High School Equivalency Exam


Editor Note: There are two different exams that can be taken in lieu of high school graduation:

Questions Related Pages

Tutor or test prep for CHSPE

July 2012

Does anyone have a referral for a tutor/test prep for the CHSPE? My son is in High School and there is a possibility he will be headed in that direction. I am interested only in this, not opinions or other thoughts about how to keep him in high school. I'd like to hear however from parents who have helped their child accomplish this goal. Thank you in advance. A parent looking for an alternative


My son took the CHSPE 2 or 3 years ago. He did the practice test that is in the application packet and had no problem passing the test. So sorry, I don't have any tutor recommendations. His HS counselor told us that the test is only meant to be hard for kids who have been ditching school a lot. Our son was in school full time up through freshman year but things really fell apart in his sophmore year. BTW, it was the best thing he could have done--he got his act together and started taking classes at Laney the semester after passing the CHSPE. He's still in college and doing well. relieved parent
My son just passed the CHSPE this summer and started at Berkeley Community College this Fall. He's much happier and is working hard--a tremendous turn- around. It was definitely the right choice for us.

Our son worked with a school psychologist, Anthony Guarnieri, who is in Berkeley, has a lot of experience and was a great fit. Our son also took tests at home to help him prepare. The book he used was called ''CHSPE: Are you ready to Pass the the CHSPE'' and came with a CD.(He does not particularly recommend the book; says it was ''less than fantastic''. However, it did the trick).

My son's comment on the exam: ''It's really not that difficult so stress is unnecessary. A complete understanding of Algebra I and basic English are all that's needed to pass, really.'' (Grain of salt--I think it looks much easier in hindsight. After taking the exams he sweat it out because of some geometry he didn't know). Carrie


Taking the CHSPE and going on to a vocational course

Sept 2011

My stepson is about to take the CHSPE and leave high school with the intention of going to community college. He wants to do a vocational course such as welding or precision metalworking and get a trade certificate. We're not finding it easy to work through the websites of the colleges and figure out where to go and what to do especially to get him in partway through the semester. Is there a consultant who is good with working with teens and parents on this? Thank you all. Stepmom in Oakland


Congratulations to you and your son. Leaving high school and entering a trade program is a challenging and rewarding opportunity. If your son is mature and has set his goals, a technical trade program is an excellent stepping-stone to a good career.

The first step is to make an appointment with a community college guidance counselor to understand his options, course of study, required additional courses, testing (if needed), and skills assessment.

Community colleges are not the same - some are more academically oriented, some have excellent theater / arts programs, some are great at certificate programs, and so forth.

If your son is interested in a trade program focusing on metalwork please check out Chabot College in Hayward. http://www.chabotcollege.edu/WELD/ They have a dedicated metal arts program that is considered one of the best in the area and a student from Oakland could commute to campus via BART/AC Transit or car.

Another excellent program is at Cabrillo College in Aptos. http://www.cabrillo.edu/academics/welding/ It is a very pleasant campus (my daughter took an economics course there). And the proximity to Santa Cruz and the beaches make it very desirable - plus roommate rentals are usually cheaper than the Bay Area. Good Luck


16-year-old passed eqivalency exam - what's next?

April 2006

My 16.5 year old son is considering exiting high school early. He is bright but has not done well - slipping slope scenario. He has already passed the CAHSEE and if he passes his classes this year, he potentially won't have to return for his senior year. I'm not sure if this means he won't get a H.S. diploma (?) Lately he has not taken responsibility for his work/actions and we fear that he probably won't have the discipline for college right now. On the other hand, it could be just what he needs to get a fresh start and put a bad high school record behind him. Does anyone have any knowledge or advice or hindsight about this situation?
Never Thought He Wouldn't Get a H.S. Diploma


My son also had a hard time in High School. He easily passed the HS equivalency test and we were seriously thinking of sending him straight to community college rather then go into 11th grade at BHS! (Though I didn't see how he would pass the classes in community college if he couldn't pass the classes in high school.) He ended up going into the independent study program at Berkeley High for 11th and 12th grade and it totally saved him. He finished high school and is now a sophmore at a State College majoring in Chemistry. He was hanging around at home a lot those last two years because he had so little class time and I couldn't get him out of the house much - I didn't know what would become of him. I had to force him to take the SAT and apply to college, but he did and now he's there and doing well.
Got my kid through high school
I have *two* such sons! Our older son took the CHSPE exam (www.chspe.net) and entered college at age 16, graduated, and is now in an M.A./credential program for - of all things - a secondary credential in history. He figures he understands why kids can't handle high school! He has many friends who either left early or were kicked out of high school, and almost every one of them is doing well - one's on the Dean's list at UCSC at age 25 (it took him a while), another is becoming a nurse, another is a union organizer, etc. There are more kids described at groups.yahoo.com/group/schoolsnotforboys - some of these guys also left high school via the CHSPE; some are in community college, at least two attend Exípression in Emeryville, and some are still struggling. Some of my younger sonís friends are becoming mechanics at community college, sound arts technicians at Exípression, etc. Check out the schoolsnotforboys group, because we've compiled resources that may be helpful to you and your son. Been there!
My son left high school after 10th grade for various reasons. (Bright but terrible grades, no interest, couldn't stand the high school ''scene'', etc.) He passed the Ca High School Equivilency Exam (CHSPE - there is one given in June) which, I think, is the equivalent of a diploma, and went on to a Community College then transferred to a 4 year and was very motivated and did very well.

I was very worried about him for many reasons, but felt that I had no choice but to let him try something different. For him, when he felt that he could make his own choices, he made very good ones.

My daughter who had very good grades just decided she was tired of high school and couldn't do another year, so she enrolled in Independent studies and a community college concurrently and graduated a year early then went on to a community college and transfered. It worked for us


Years ago, I graduated from high school a year early. I was bright and did quite well until high school, when my grades began slipping and I stopped doing much work. Midway through my junior year, I noticed that by the end of the year I would have all I'd need to graduate early, and since I was miserable and hated school, I went ahead and did it. I started college in the fall, bombed out within a couple of months, and then worked until I felt ready to try again the following year, right when I would have anyway if I had stayed in school. It took me many years to get over what felt like a huge messy failure.

In retrospect, I think I hated school and my grades were poor because I was immature for my age. I should have stuck it out another year, maybe taking fun/light courses. I also think it would have made a big difference if my parents had had me evaluated for depression and seen about treatment, but there was much less awareness about depression in those days. Everyone is different, but given my personal experience, I would urge your to be very careful about letting your son graduate on to the next stage in life when he's not performing all that well in his current one. regret having done it


GED for intelligent boy who hates school?

Oct 2005

My son is very intelligent (1490 on the SAT) but has never liked school. He is a senior, and seriously considering leaving school and taking the GED. He has talked about this before, and I encouraged him to stay in school. He has just turned 18, and it seems different now.

Do you know any success stories for kids who have taken the GED instead of finishing high school? Any horror stories? Any advice or information would be most appreciated. Thank you!
worried mom


I know of a few examples of kids who successfully pursued alternative paths to high school. In all cases they were pretty self-directed, though, and knew what they wanted. These are all friends of my own son: one finished early through Berkeley's Independent Studies and is a freshman in college a year ahead of schedule; another took the CHSPE after 10th grade, went to Diablo Valley and is now applying to 4 year colleges as an 18 year old junior. Another boy who was exceptionally bright through middle school, has had a very tough time in high school, tested out and is now happily in residence at the Green Gulch Farm of the Zen Center. Diana
I know of two intelligent, bored high school students who took the test and started community college or a job. It's been two years, and they and their parents think this option worked out fine. Anonymous
To the mom who asked for success stories on kids who take the GED and leave high school--I'm one, 20 years ago. I actually dropped out of high school without taking the GED officially (I took in in eighth grade, and passed, but was too young to have it recorded). I hated school and had been hospitalized for depression--a really messed up kid. After trying me in five different high schools my mom finally let me drop out. She sent me to a trade school to learn computer programming, and when I finished I went to work full-time and moved out. After a year I was totally bored with my job so I started going to community college at night, taking math and science courses. Three years later I transferred into UCLA's engineering program as a junior, then graduated magna cum laude. I paid for it all myself by working and getting scholarships. I put myself through engineering grad school the same way and finished my MS degree two years later. My mom and I stayed close throughout, and I thank god every day that she let me leave high school, because I consider that to be the point at which my life really started. Obviously a different situation from what you're facing, but still, I do think that there is still hope even if a kid decides to abandon high school. There are many alternative paths. The key thing, to my mind, is to stay on the same side as your child, and understand that not everyone is made for high school. Good luck to you and your son--as a mom I now understand how hard this is from the other side. anon engineer/mom
There are posts in the same newsletter that seem relevant to your concern about your bright 18 year old who would like to leave HS, so I don't want to duplicate. One of our sons entered UCLA at 16, and we know many other kids who left high school early via CHSPE or GED and entered college. Most were much better off for moving on, but I'm not convinced that it was because they were 'bright but bored' necessarily, but, rather, they were struggling with too many issues and needed to move on somehow someway somewhere. Growing up is just challenging - kids with and without academic talent have difficult times in high school and need to move on. Anyway, check out some of the other resources mentioned in the newsletter - internships, community college, etc. Consider also talking with a college counselor to see if your son has taken enough courses to enter a UC or CSU; in our case, Rory Bled was our savior. If your son doesn't have sufficient units, you may find an alternative college that won't care. Our son was way too young to go to college at 16 (he figured that out in hindsight), but was dropping out of HS with absolutely no plan whatsoever, and he was able to sort himself out and graduate in 5 1/2 years, about the time he would have anyway. a parent who has been there!

How does GED differ from CHSPE?

I understand that there are two different tests a student can take who wants to take a high school equivalency test rather than to graduate from high school. One is the GED. The other may be the CHSPE. Anyone who has information about the CHSPE and how it differs from the GED, I'd appreciate a posting from you. Thanks! Sue
If students have completed the course requirements for college admissions (and have the grades, SATs, experience etc.), most colleges and universities accept CHSPE in lieu of high school graduation - I know, because my son left high school after 11th grade and used the CHSPE option to enroll in UCLA. The website is: http://www.chspe.com/ "You may take CHSPE if, on testing day, you: are 16 or older, (no upper age limit) or have completed at least one academic year of the tenth grade, or are enrolled in the second semester of tenth grade."

CHSPE is generally considered a bit more difficult than the GED examination, but I'm sure there are other differences. We didn't research them, because the college counselor said CHSPE was the exam to take.


GED vs. CHSPE To take the GED, a student must be 18 years old, or a drop-out for 6 months. The GED consists of 5 or 6 parts, including direct writing, science, math, and english/reading comprehension. You can take the test in sections; once you pass a section (e.g. math), you don't have to take that section again, even if you do not pass the other sections. The total test is about 10 hours long. Most community colleges, adult schools, and continuation schools have GED review courses and can administer the test whenever the student feels ready to try it. There is a standardized pre-test which is used as a predictor of success. The GED is recognized in all 50 states.

To take the CHSPE, a student must be 16 years old. The CHSPE is usually given twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring. I think the test is 3 or 4 hours long, and covers mostly math and english. You can get review books for both tests at libraries or book stores. A student needs a parent/gaurdian signiture to leave school, even if she passes the test...a student may continue to attend school if she passes the test. The CHSPE is not recognized in all 50 states, but states other than California do recognize it. -Jon


What's an R-4 Affadavit?

May 2002

I would like to know how I can get more information on the R - 4 affadavit discussion on the newsletter around April 4 under the heading: Parents Advice about School: Taking the High School Equivalency Exam. Can anyone let me know which agency I contact to get this and does anyone have experience doing this and advice for me? Thanks Sherry


The California Homeschool Network has information on their website about the R-4 affidavit process. You can order their information packet, which has instructions about filling it out, where to send it, etc. There is also a CD you can order. Their website is http://www.cahomeschoolnet.org. Diane
I don't have the info about R4's at hand, but here's a link to a homeschooling organization that has info on it: http://www.homefires.com/affidavit.htm (I don't know anything about these folks; it's just the first thing that came up in a web search). Good luck, Dawn
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