Exams are over for most students as schools close their doors for the holidays. But the GED is being revamped Jan. 1, and testing centers around the country have seen floods of people hoping to finish the exam.
The GED has five parts, and many test-takers have completed only a portion of the exam. If they don’t complete it by the end of the year, their scores will be wiped clean and they’ll have to retake it.
The new version of the GED is expected to more rigorous – and more expensive.
“Many of the changes to the GED testing program aren’t being made lightly,” says CT Turner with the GED Testing Center. “The reason is all of these changes are really about jobs."
Changes to the GED are part of a shift in preparing people to enter college or start a career.
In Texas, half of the jobs are middle-skill jobs, but only 40 percent of the state workforce are trained for those jobs.
“In order for adults to find work and get a job with a wage that’ll support themselves and their families, they need to enter college and career training programs," Turner says.
Since the new test is only available on a computer, it will provide immediate results to test-takers. Scores will be returned on the same day; it will also pinpoint a student’s strengths and weaknesses. Turner says that can help people who are trying to get a certificate or college degree.
“We want to pinpoint two or three things that community colleges can work with … and fix Johnny’s three weaknesses in a weekend over a course of two weeks," he says. "Then that much can get much more quickly into a credit bearing course. Which means they get momentum and are more likely to complete their course.”
Test-takers will also be graded on two levels. One is the basic high school equivalency. The other is GED with honors, which will measure college and career readiness.
But the computer-only model raises questions for some about equity and access to technology, especially for low-income test takers who don’t possess computer skills or computer access. If someone doesn’t have the time or access to develop typing skills, will they be at a disadvantage when they write a timed essay?
GED Testing Services’ Turner says that in Texas, so far, that hasn’t been a problem. Since March, a higher percentage of Texans who took the computer test passed, over those who took the paper test.