GED students face tougher test in 2014
New standards are coming for the General Education Development (GED) credential, and those who have started the process need to complete their testing soon or they risk losing credit for the progress they’ve made so far.
That’s the word from Ann Miller, director of the Unlimited Learning Center in Cortez.
The federal government chose a for-profit company that designs college placement tests, Pearson Vue, to administer the updated GED test.
It is only the second time the GED has been updated since World War II, said Miller, who’s worked in adult education since 1975 and has been the Unlimited Learning Center’s adult education director since 1990. The first update came in 2002.
Changes that will be coming include: a higher fee, a reduction from five to four tests in the GED battery of exams, more emphasis on critical thinking and analytical skills using short essays rather than multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, and harder questions in general.
Miller is basing her opinion on the toughness of the new battery of tests on sample questions she’s seen so far. She doesn’t know how much the fee will increase, but said it will go up from the current $150 for the battery, or $30 per test.
Although the changes will benefit many in the long run, Miller said, “We’re doing a big push to get everyone through on the current test.”
If a student has completed four of five tests but doesn’t complete the fifth test by the end of next year, that student would have to start over.
The new GED test will also be all computerized, whereas the current test can be taken with paper and pencil or on a computer. This change will probably be harder on older students, but Miller notes that the Unlimited Learning Center offers a computer literacy course.
The Unlimited Learning Center is beginning to gear up on the skills students will need to pass the newer GED, even though the current battery of five tests can be taken through the end of 2013.
“We do an assessment of their skills. We help upgrade their skills,” she said, noting this includes critical reading, analytical reading, and interpreting charts, graphs and political cartoons, for example.
Miller noted that the new four-test GED will consist of science, social studies, math, and literature/reading/English. There will be an essay in the social studies and science tests. The long essay, essentially the fifth test, will no longer be required.
As to why the federal government went with a for-profit company as opposed to the non-profit it previously used, Miller speculated that it’s due to the higher cost of designing tests.
“Unfortunately, it’s coming at a time when people need jobs,” she said, noting some may not be able to afford to the higher fees.
The Unlimited Learning Center partners with local businesses and civic groups to defray up to half of the cost of the tests based on financial need.
The new GED will also add a college entrance test for those trying to go to college. For those who simply want a better job, they will not need to take the separate college entry test.
For more information on the offerings of the Unlimited Learning Center, including college classes via video conferencing, go online at www.fourcornerslearning.org or call 565-1601.