Test Breakdown of AHSGE

The main aim of studying through high school is to acquire basic education, skills and knowledge and also to earn your high school diploma. Your high school diploma is a proof of the fact that you possess the necessary skills and knowledge that are essential for further studies and for future employment. This implies that high schools have to bear the responsibility of ensuring that the standard and quality of education being provided by them is commensurate with the state standards. At the same time it is necessary to ascertain that the students graduating from high schools actually possess the required skills and knowledge levels. Hence, the US states need to put a mechanism in place that ensures that the students graduating from high schools meet certain specified requirements as per the state standards. One such mechanism is the implementation of high school graduation exams like the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) for the high school students graduating from Alabama.

What are the Requirements for Earning a High school Diploma from Alabama

There are two main requirements for earning a high school diploma if you are graduating from a high school in Alabama. The state of Alabama requires you to pass the exam as one of the requirements for grant of a high school diploma. You will not be eligible for the grant of a high school diploma if you are graduating from a high school in Alabama and you have not been able to pass the exam. The other requirement for grant of a high school diploma is to complete the required number of courses that include high school curriculum course work amounting to a minimum of 24 credits. High schools in Alabama follow the 4x4 curriculum. This curriculum requires 4 years each of courses in 4 core subjects. These subjects are Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English. 

What does the AHSGE Measure

This exam has been designed to evaluate your proficiency in the basic subject areas that have been taught to you in high school.  Your mastery over the subject specific skills will be put to test by the questions that you will have to answer while taking this exam. For ease of evaluation of the different skills, the exam is conducted in the form of separate subject area tests for each of the subject areas being assessed. You will be assessed for your skills and knowledge in five major subject areas.


     Skills assessed: Reading skills and skills in understanding given reading material, interpretation of reading material and carrying out critical analysis.
    Test content: The level of the test content is the same as that of 11th grade reading comprehension level. The reading materials are provided in the form of articles, prose, poems, editorials and instruction manuals.
    Number of questions: 84
    Passing score: 563


    Skills assessed: Writing skills, skills in language mechanics, recognising grammatical errors, recognizing errors in correct usage, abilities in correcting sentence structures, skills in making correct word choices and utilizing correct form of capitalization and punctuation.  
    Test content: The test content is of the same level as that of 11th grade language mechanics and expression skills.
    Number of questions: 100
    Passing score: 560


    Skills assessed: Skills in carrying out basic operations on algebraic expressions, abilities in solving equations and skills in applying functions, formulas, graphs etc. for solving mathematical problems.
    Test content: Algebra I and Geometry. Algebra I accounts for 75 percent of the test content. 25 percent of the test content is drawn from pre-Geometry (prior to Algebra I).
    Number of questions: 100
    Passing score: 477


    Skills assessed: Skills and knowledge related to the basic concepts of science and related processes.
    Test content: Biology and Physical Science; which includes types of matter, states of matter, heredity, mutations, classifications of life, DNA, structure of cells and their functions, reproduction, population, ecosystems, energy, waves, force and laws of motion. Biology accounts for 70 percent of the test content.  30 percent of the test content is from Physical Science (prior to biology).
    Number of questions: 100
    Passing score: 491

    Social Studies

    Skills assessed: Knowledge of the history of the United States.
    Test content: History of the United States as taught in 10th and 11th grade. This would be U.S History from the colonial eras up to World War II.
    Number of questions: 100
    Passing score: 509

    How Does AHSGE Measure the Necessary Skills

    You would have completed the required coursework for the same subject areas in high school that are being tested by the AHSGE. However, this exam employs a different method for evaluating your skills and your knowledge of the core academic subjects. You will be presented with multiple-choice questions in each subject area test. You will be given answer options and you will be required to choose the correct answer. The questions asked will be able to evaluate your competence in applying the subject specific knowledge you have gained in high school for solving related problems.

    The subject area tests are designed to test your competence and proficiency in the subject area being tested. Each subject area test has certain specified standards and objectives. These define the test content. You should prepare for AHSGE accordingly. Moreover, the teachers in high school are expected to keep these objectives in mind as they teach you the related subject areas in high school and also help you prepare for the exam.

    Go to the website of the Alabama Department of Education, www.alsde.edu/html/home.asp. Here you will find detailed information regarding AHSGE including a guide to the exam called, Great Expectations.  Go through this document and understand the standards and objectives for each of the subject area tests as outlined in the document. You can also get in touch with the student advisors at your school who will be able to provide you with able guidance regarding the conduct of the test.

    How and When are the AHSGE Results Declared

You can take AHSGE for the first time in the spring of your 10th grade. You will be given 5 more opportunities to pass the AHSGE with the last one being in the spring of your 12th grade. You can take the individual subject area tests separately for meeting the exam's passing requirements. You do not need to retake a subject area test once you have passed it.

The scores you receive are scaled scores that depend upon the number of questions that you have been able to answer correctly. You will receive your results in the form of an individual student label. This label will display a ‘Pass’ or a ‘Fail’ in front of the subject area tests taken by you depending upon whether you have been able to achieve the passing scores or not. The responsibility of handing over the student label to you rests with your local school. Two copies of your student label are sent to your school by the state Department of Education after about 6 weeks from the test date. One of the copies will be handed over to you by your school and the other copy will be placed on your cumulative folder.

    One Last Word!

Do not forget that you will have to take other standardized tests towards the end of your high school career to meet the requirements for admissions to professional courses and colleges. At that point in time, you will be facing a time crunch and you will not be able to prepare for the test in a relaxed manner. As a result, preparation for taking this exam will become more of a burden. Keeping in mind that earning a high school diploma is the first step that one has to take for a rewarding career, prepare for the exam well and leave no stone unturned in your quest to earn your high school diploma from the state of Alabama!