The Alabama High School Graduation Exam

To evaluate the readiness for graduation of a high schooler who has completed the minimum course requirements, Alabama administers the AHSGE (Alabama High School Graduation Exam). Read more to learn about the test and other graduation requirements.

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High school students in Alabama learn according to the state's 4x4 curriculum - four years of each required course of study in four subjects: Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English. The 24 credit minimum of course work required in order to graduate breaks down as follows:

  • 4 credits of English
  • 4 credits of Mathematics (including both Algebra I and Geometry)
  • 4 credits of Science (including both Biology and one Physical Science)
  • 4 credits of Social Studies
  • 1 credit of Physical Education
  • .5 credit of Health
  • .5 credit of Arts
  • .5 credit of Technology
  • 5.5 credit of electives (the local board of Education may require additional electives)

To evaluate the readiness for graduation of a high schooler who has completed the minimum course requirements, Alabama administers the AHSGE (Alabama High School Graduation Exam. It's a multiple choice exam written on the eleventh grade level. It tests a student's grasp of high school core course work, emphasizing logic and problem solving. It has 5 sections:

  1. Reading
  2. Language
  3. Math
  4. Science
  5. Social Studies.

Reading

To pass, a student must earn a score of 563 or higher. This test evaluates whether a student can read and comprehend reading material. It requires students to demonstrate literal understanding, to interpret text passages, and to apply critical analysis. The reading section requires that students read and comprehend articles, poems, editorials, instructional manuals, and other similar materials.

Language

To pass, a student must earn a score of 560 or higher. The test evaluates student knowledge of language mechanics and expression. It requires students to recognize correct grammar and usage, make appropriate word choices, recognize correct sentence structures, use correct capitalization and punctuation, and demonstrate organizational skills for writing and revising.

Math

To pass, a student must achieve a score of at least 477. The test evaluates the student's knowledge of Algebra I and Geometry. It requires the student to perform basic operations on algebraic expressions, solve equations and inequalities, apply concepts related to functions, apply formulas, apply graphing techniques, represent problem situations, and solve problems involving a variety of geometric and algebraic concepts.

Science

To pass, a student must achieve a score of at least 491. The test evaluates the student's knowledge of biology and physical science. It requires the student to understand the nature of science and the scientific process, the types, states, transfer, and change of matter, the diversity of life and its classifications, structures, and functions, heredity, mutations, DNA, and physical traits, cells and their structure, functions, reproduction, interdependence of populations and ecosystems, energy and its transformations and waves, force and laws of motion.

Social Studies

To pass, a student must achieve a score of at least 509. This test evaluates a student's knowledge of United States history. The student will be required to understand history from the colonial eras through World War II.

Each session of the test is administered over a one week period. Students are tested in one subject - area each day. The tests are not timed, but each daily test session lasts about three hours.

The test is administered six times in the course of a student's high school career:

  • In the spring of 10th grade
  • In the spring of 11th grade
  • In the summer between 11th and 12th grades
  • In the fall of 12th grade
  • At mid-year in 12th grade
  • In the spring of 12th grade

Students may take the different subject areas of the exam at a different times as they successfully complete the required courses. The Alabama Department of Education provides calculators for all students, as well practice time and instruction in using the calculators during the week prior to the exam. Students are permitted to write in their test booklets and each school is required to provide scratch paper, which is collected and shredded after the exam.

Alabama's High School Graduation Exam is considered to be a 'High Stakes' standardized test. That means that the results have a direct impact on the educational experience of an individual student. In the case of the AHSGE, that impact is the difference between graduating high school or being required to continue study at the high school level. All standardized tests are meant to provide ongoing evaluation of students, teachers, schools and school districts.

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