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GED changes consolidate test

Current testers must act before new year

POSTED: October 27, 2013 12:01 a.m.

With a new year comes changes, and one of those for 2014 will be the GED test.

Last revamped in 2002, this most recent update consolidates the test somewhat, combining the separate language arts/reading and language arts/writing tests into one exam. A writing component will be added to the social studies portion.

The key to the switchover is that people will be able to take the test in parts. A person can study for the social studies portion, take and pass that test, then move on to the math test.

Those who have not taken all of the current five parts of the GED exam by the end of this year when the new exams go into place will lose all progress and have to start over.

“All test scores for those who have not completed (the GED) will expire after Jan. 1,” said Deborah Killip, director of adult education at Lanier Technical College. “That’s a real important point. We hope to get the word out.

“There are a lot of people out there that just have the math left, and we’d love to get them in and get them to get that done, so they don’t have to start over.”

Robert Bates, GED lead instructor at the Hall County Adult Learning Center, said that many people are heeding that advice.

“We have had several people who have come back,” Bates said. “We have had several people who have come, who have taken parts of the exam and they are wanting to complete the GED before the December deadline.”

The Adult Learning Center administers the GED weekly. To help people get in those final portions before the end of the year, an extra date has been added the final week of December, Bates said.

“This was something that normally is not done, but this year they’re adding (a day) between Christmas and the end of the year,” he explained.

As more information comes out about changes to the exam’s content, Killip said test administrators are “more comfortable” the adjustments.

“It’s like anything else. The first time you hear (about a change), it’s a shock,” she said with a laugh.

The new set up of the exam corresponds closely with the changes to standards in K-12 schools across most of the United States, known as Common Core.

“For example, math is currently about 20 to 25 percent algebra,” Killip said. “(With the new test) it’s going to be about 55 percent algebra.”

Killip said while some teaching adjustments will have to be made, she doesn’t anticipate a drop in the number of people able to pass the GED.

Earning a GED makes a difference in the lives of those without a high school diploma. According to information from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with no high school diploma or GED credential is about 6 percent higher.

The total cost of $160 for the entire GED will remain the same. It’s currently $32 per test, but will go up to $40 per exam in January. The difference is made up by consolidating the two language arts tests into one.

Also somewhat new is that it will be entirely online. Georgia went to the online program about a year ago, and the rest of the country will follow in January. Killip said officials expected a dip in scores, thinking some may not be comfortable using a computer, but that wasn’t the case.

“We have found that since we went to computer-based testing in the current test that we have a higher passing rate,” Killip said. “We’re not sure why that’s happening. It’s like everything else. It worried us when it first came out because they didn’t have the computer skills, (but) it doesn’t seem to be a problem.”

Another benefit with computer-based testing is that students receive immediate feedback on their scores; the only portion of the test graded by human eyes is the writing portion.

That immediate feedback will include information on what test-takers get wrong so they know what to study.

“Right now ... you get a number score and whether you pass or fail,” Killip said.

The key point for both Killip and Bates was not to create fear over the new test but rather to let people know if they’ve only completed a portion of the GED up to this point, now is the time to complete it before losing previous passing scores.

“Don’t wait,” Killip advised. “Get it in.”


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