Standardized tests have become ubiquitous in the world of contemporary education. Recent legislation in the United States mandates certain benchmarks for student performance throughout their educational lives, beginning in kindergarten and going all the way through high school, known popularly as "proficiency tests." One such test is the California High School Proficiency Examination, or CHSPE, and another is the General Educational Development Test, or GED. Both of these are administered to determine aptitude at the high school level, but there are several differences between the tests.

Who Is Eligible?

The CHSPE is intended for students enrolled at a California high school who are at least 16 years old. They must have completed 10th grade or will be on track to finish 10th grade within one calendar year of the test date. The GED is intended for people no longer attending high school who did not receive their diploma, either because they dropped out, were incarcerated, or joined the military. The GED is administered nationwide and is not tied to any one state. To take the GED, you must be at least 18 years old, although certain exceptions exist for 17-year-olds.

What Is the Purpose?

The purpose of both tests is to provide an opportunity for people to earn the equivalent of a high school diploma. The CHSPE was designed for high-school students who want to leave school early in order to go to college or to enter the workforce. However, opting out of high school still requires parental consent. The GED was created for people who have already left high school but would still like to earn the equivalent of a diploma.

How Are the Tests Formatted?

Much like the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the CHSPE is broken into two sections: language arts and math. Language arts is then broken down into two subsections: language, which includes multiple-choice questions and an essay, and reading, which has all multiple-choice questions. The GED grades test-takers on five subject areas: writing, reading, mathematics, science, and social studies. Except for an the essay portion, most questions on the GED are multiple choice.

When and Where Are the Tests Administered?

The CHSPE is administered by the State of California, on registered test dates, at locations and is given only to California residents. Testing availability is limited. The GED may be taken at any approved testing center with an appointment.

Where Are the Tests Recognized and Accepted?

The CHSPE is recognized by all state institutions of higher learning in California as the equivalent of a high school diploma, but it may not be recognized by all private or out-of-state institutions. Check with the desired school's admissions department to be sure the school will accept CHSPE results before registering for the exam. The GED is universally accepted as the equivalent to a high school diploma.