High school graduation alternatives just got tougher. As of January 2nd, a new version of the General Educational Development test was released across the United States. Program Coordinator of the testing center Sally Raftery says, “Historically, the GED has been redesigned every ten to fifteen years. The last time this happened was 2002.” The current edition exhibits the most drastic changes to the exam yet.
The first thing test-takers will notice is that the entire test has been computerized. Those opting for a paper version are out of luck — there is none. “It doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, it’s here.” Raftery says.
In addition to being more difficult across the board, the test now focuses on critical thinking skills. For example, the math section now includes a heavy dose of algebraic reasoning. Previously, algebra was a smaller portion of the test, and was also not as complex as it will be. Other sections will also include short answer questions. Texts will be more informational, as opposed to the previous editions, which featured mostly poetry and literature. “We’re not sure if there will be any of that in the new test,” says Heidi Songstad, a GED preparatory class instructor.
The uncertainty is due to the fact that just about everyone currently involved in preparing students to take the new GED has not been able to preemptively examine the test. “We see little snippets, but we really don’t know how the finished product will look …” said Tonya Estes, chair of the Adult Basic Education and GED department.
Estes and her department, along with educators nationwide, have been forced to do their best with educated speculation. “Most publishing companies haven’t yet completed, let alone printed their products.” Estes says. This includes study guides, practice tests, and other tools vital to placing a high score.
Although the price may be lower to students, it certainly isn’t for the testing centers. “To purchase software or even the official practice tests that are offered could cost in the tens of thousands of dollars,” Estes says. “Right now, we are going to experiment with the most cost-effective options we can find, and just see what happens.
We are going to be honest with the students that this is where we are right now, and we are all in it together.”