GAINESVILLE — 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.”
Elaine Glenn, GED and ESL programs lead instructor at Lanier Technical College's Forsyth campus, said that many people are heeding that advice.
“Some people are coming in and they are realizing that they need to study and so that’s why ... we have GED preparation classes,” Glen said. “Anyone who is rather low in their skills, we are advising them to stay with us and work into the new year to learn the material.”
But for those that are ready to test, or only need one or two more tests to earn their GED, Glenn said the location will be administering the test Nov. 12 and 19 as well as in December.
Glenn said the changes will help students be “better prepared for entering college and getting through life and it’s more critical thinking skills that are going to be used.”
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.
The new setup of the exam corresponds closely with the changes to standards in kindergarten through 12thgrade 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.”
Glenn said she doesn’t anticipate a drop in the number of people able to pass the GED. In fact, with the test being given entirely online in January, she expects scores may actually increase. Georgia went to the online program about a year ago, and the rest of the country will follow in January.
“People who are taking the test on the computer do have a higher pass rate,” she said. “We really don’t know why, except that they’re comfortable with a computer and it’s working for them.”
Not every student will be computer proficient, Glenn said, which is why the location offers assistance with computers so test-takers can be more familiar with the technology.
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 writing.
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 officials 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.”
Staff writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.