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Big GED changes coming in 2013

January 3, 2013

We’ve all been there. Lack of money, lack of transportation and lack of time to get everything done that we need to get done. And all these things are understandable contributors to why some General Education Diploma (GED) participants don’t fully complete the GED program they enter as a first step to landing a better job.
All too often, GED participants may pass perhaps the writing and math portions of the GED program with flying colors but never go back, due to personal circumstances, to take their examinations in the other subject fields, such as Social Studies and Science. So they never walk across stage to receive their general education diploma. Used to, GED students who partially completed the GED program could go back, if they choose, to finish up the rest of their classes and earn their diploma without having to retake what they already took. But in 2014 things will change.
Starting Jan. 1, 2014, tests scores from the current GED program will expire, and those who have only taken examinations in one or two subjects will lose those test scores and have to retake those classes if they plan on getting their GED.
But that’s not the only change coming, said Jim Bearden, Director of Adult Basic Education for East Mississippi Community College. Beginning in January, the GED test will be administered only online; no more paper and pencil testing.
“That’s going to pose several issues,” Bearden said. “It’s been ten years since the test has changed, so there’s ten years worth of people out there who have taken part of the test and haven’t finished and all those scores are going to go away when that test changes. For the next seven or eight months that’s going to be our message. If you have partial scores, if it’s really something you want to do you need to come in here and get this finished. We don’t want you to have to start over.”
Old and prospective GED students still have until Dec. 31 to complete their GED without any risks of losing their current scores.
Another change slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2013 is the increase to the examination fee. Whereas the testing fee for the entire GED exam, which covers all subjects, is currently $75 that fee will increase to $120 next year. Bearden said just last year the examination was $40 but increased this year to $75 in anticipation of the 2013 changes. He said this was done by GED Testing Services in association with Pearson Vue to “prepare people that this is not just going to be a cheap test anymore.”
Also in 2013 people aiming to receive their GED will have to register themselves online for the examination and pay their testing fee online using a debit or credit card. Currently if GED participants come to class and score well on the Official Practice Test, which is free, EMCC will usually cover the testing fee. EMCC administrators aren’t certain at this point if the college will be able to continue waiving fees for certain participants when the new year begins.
“It’s going to be another one of those hurdles we’ll have to figure out,” Bearden said.
Laronda Gathings, Chief GED Examiner for EMCC, said EMCC GED officials weren’t notified of all the changes until October and said officials are now making a grassroots effort to contact all GED students who have partially completed the program to tell them about the changes. She said the Official Practice Test (OPT) is highly recommended for people who may have gone through one or two GED subjects and want to come back this year and brush up on skills before diving into the rest of the program.
Bearden said now’s the time for prospective GED students to learn and practice basic computer skills, as the 2013 GED changes will center around the use of computers.
“Kids are great with iPhones and technology, but the keyboarding skills are going to be the greatest thing to me,” he said. “They’re going to have to type essays on a keyboard instead of writing it out by hand. GED used to be all multiple choice, but now there’s going to be some short answer. It’s trying to upgrade the tests to today’s changing face of education.”

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