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Changes to GED test approaching

Educators: There's urgency to finish test this year

POSTED: March 3, 2013 12:30 a.m.
Crystal Ledford/

Elaine Glenn, lead instructor with the GED program at Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth campus, works Thursday with students, seated from left, Carlos Borrego, Levi Jackson and Calvin Royal. Glenn is urging students to obtain a diploma before national changes to the program begin.

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Anyone interested in obtaining their General Educational Development, or GED, should do so before the end of the year, say local adult education instructors.

Elaine Glenn, lead instructor with the GED program at Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth campus, said national changes to the GED testing program will begin at the start of 2014.

“The bottom line on this whole thing is that a GED test passer must remain competitive with students who complete their high school credentials in the traditional manner,” Glenn said.

Currently, students pursuing their GED take five tests in the areas of English, reading, math, science and social studies.

However, new tests that are more rigorous will be rolled out in 2014, said reading instructor Eileen Leone.

For example, she said in the current testing format, students are required to write an essay about a personal experience. However, in the new setup, they will be required to analyze written materials and then write an essay.

“They’re going to read two articles and have to compare and contrast, take a stand, understand and support it from the information presented,” she said. “So it’s definitely going to put them in competition with other graduates for jobs.”

Glenn said the tests are also being designed to better prepare students for higher educational opportunities.

“The test [will be] designed to be a springboard for more opportunities, rather than an end point,” she said.

In addition, with the new format, students will take four tests rather than five. The reading and writing portions will be combined into one test in 2014.

Also, Glenn said, students who are currently working toward their GED need to finish all the tests by the end of 2013.

“If they don’t, if say they’ve taken four tests, those test scores will expire and they will not count toward the new test in 2014,” she said. “They would then have to retake all of those tests.”

According to Glenn, there are about 200 students enrolled in the local GED preparation program, with five instructors providing classes from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday at the local Lanier Tech campus.

When new students enroll in the program, which is completely free for them, they are assessed to determine how much preparation they require before they can pass the GED tests, Glenn said.

Instructors then work with the students for as long as necessary in order to get them ready to pass.

Once they reach a certain level, they can then take free practice tests.

“Those are models of the real tests,” Glenn said. “That’s the very best way that a person can find out if they are ready for the real test. If they can [score high enough], then we feel they are ready to take the real test.”

Once ready, students must pay $32 per test for a total of $160. However, Glenn said, students can receive a scholarship from AT&T that reduces the total cost to $100.

Currently, students can take the exams with traditional pencil and paper tests or on computer. However, after July all the tests will shift to computer.

“So people are going to have to be familiar with keyboarding and good with computers,” Glenn said.

Since GED students range in age from 16 to 60 and older, Glenn said, some may need computer assistance.

“If they’re concerned about keyboarding, they can come and talk to us about that and we can determine if they’ll need to take a computer class through Lanier Tech,” she said.

Glenn wants current and future students to understand the impacts of the national changes, which are the first to the GED in more than a decade.

“Our best advice to everyone considering obtaining the GED is to go ahead and enroll now in our preparatory classes, and for those who are already working to finish up by the end of the year,” she said.

 

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