New GED test set to change, a lot

Part 1 of a series

Come January 2014, the GED will be different – a lot different.

It will be more rigorous. It will involve more computer skills. In addition, it will require more critical thinking skills, according to Debbie McIntyre, coordinator for the GED program at Bainbridge State College.

“The new test will be more rigorous, as high school is now,” McIntyre said. “The new GED test is going to be more challenging, but the end result is that GED graduates will have stronger skills. We are going to graduate a person with stronger computer skills, stronger critical-thinking skills and definitely more college ready.”

Some of the changes will be quite dramatic.

For example, the current test consists of five sections – reading, writing, math, science and social studies. To complete the current test, a student must answer all multiple-choice questions and write one essay.

Students taking the new test will have a variety of ways to answer questions – from completing a sentence, fill in the blank, short answer, several other higher learning tasks and composing two essays instead of one.

No longer will a student be able to complete a hard copy of the test. Beginning in 2014, the test must be completed on computer, which will have its own calculator and white board windows to work out problems.

Along with teaching the materials on the new test, McIntyre and her staff of educators will be teaching GED candidates how to maneuver around the test–how to answer the different-formatted questions and how to call up the embedded calculator and white space to assist the students with completing the test.

The new test arises from new standards released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education. These standards, College and Career Readiness (CCR) Standards for Adult Education, are to better prepare adults for the college courses needed to qualify for most jobs.

GED Testing Service’s Martin Kehe said the 2014 GED test scheduled for released Jan. 2 would continue to measure high school equivalency and provide detailed information about a test-taker’s readiness for college and career training programs.

“The new GED exam will be the only high school equivalency test strongly aligned to state and adult education standards, that when implemented, will better indicate college and career readiness,” Kehe said in a news release from GED Testing Service.

The adult education College and Career Readiness standards require adults to demonstrate basic computer skills, and the ability to build arguments based on evidence – the same kinds of skills that employers expect.

Randy Trask, president of GED Testing Service, said for years workforce and economic development reports have been saying there are not enough low-skill jobs for the number of low-skill Americans. In fact, nearly 4 million middle-skill jobs are unfilled because there are not enough people with the right skills and education to fill them.

“The new adult education CCR Standards confirm what experts and employers have been saying to GED Testing Service for years – that we need to be concerned with job preparedness, not just high school completion,” Trask said in a news release.

Another big change for students is that those who have not passed all five sections of the old GED test by Jan. 1 will have to take all of the sections of the new test.

The challenge Bainbridge State Adult Education personnel will have is to sift through each student’s skill and ability levels to see if they could complete the old test or to start them on the new test, McIntyre said.

The next GED orientation session for new students is Tuesday, July 9, beginning at either 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. at the Shotwell Education Center in Bainbridge (315 S. Boulevard Drive or behind the Golden Corral at Bainbridge Mall). The orientation will last about 1 ½ hours and students need to come back the next day for a three-hour placement test. Classes will start the following Monday. For more information, contact the Bainbridge State Adult Education Division at (229) 248-2517.

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