Is It Hard to Pass a High School Exit Exam?

Usually, high school exit exams are not very demanding tests. In most states, 80-90% of all learners pass these exams. In an analysis of exit exams in Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas, it was found that the tests mostly covered content in math and language arts that learners should have learned in 7th through 9th grade. Passing cutoffs are also very forgiving.

You should not worry too much about your state’s test if you have been doing well in high school. Unless you are in the lowest 5-10% of learners in your class GPA-wise, it is highly unlikely that you will fail your exit exam.  I will give a quick overview of the content and why an exit exam is relatively easy to pass.

For math, you will need to know basic algebra and geometry. Most of the math sections of these tests ask you to perform a certain operation rather than challenging you to develop your mathematical model to solve a problem. This can vary slightly across states, but the math skills required to pass are not at the more advanced level that many learners reach by the end of high school.

For these exams’ reading components, the focus is on basic reading comprehension, including understanding ideas and vocabulary in a passage. Exit exams typically have very few questions that require analysis. Questions test lower-level reading skills like making inferences and recalling information from the passages. Passages usually consist of both literary and informational texts written at an accessible level for most high school learners.

In the study mentioned above, across the distinct states, the difficulty of reading content on exit exams was roughly equivalent to that of the content on the ACT’s assessment for eighth and ninth graders. Some of it was at a comparable level as the 10th grade ACT assessment, but none of the questions were on par with the content tested on the real ACT.

Writing sections are a component of exit exams. Some states select to assess writing skills purely by giving learners an essay prompt and grading their responses. Many also include several choice questions that test basic grammar and sentence structure skills alongside the essay.

Exit exams can be frustrating, but they should not stress you if you are doing all right in your courses. They are less challenging than standardized tests like the SAT and ACT, and the passing cutoffs are generous.

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