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GED test gets overhaul

Feb. 12, 2014 - 04:19PM   |  
Sally Raftery
A revamped version of the GED is intended to be more rigorous and better aligned with the skills needed for college and today's workplaces. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)
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The GED test, for decades the brand name for the high school equivalency exam, is about to undergo some changes.

An upgraded GED exam and two new competing equivalency tests offered in several states will usher in a new era in adult education testing.

The revamped test is intended to be more rigorous and better aligned with the skills needed for college and today’s workplaces. The new test will only be offered on a computer, and it will cost more. What consumers pay for the test varies widely and depends on state assistance and other factors.

Even before its launch, officials in many states have balked at the cost increase and at doing away with paper-and-pencil testing. At least nine states — New York, New Hampshire, Missouri, Iowa, Montana, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine and West Virginia — severed ties with the GED test and adopted one of the two new tests that are entering the market.

Three others — Wyoming, New Jersey and Nevada — will offer all three. Tennessee will offer the GED test and one other, and other states are expected to decide what to do in the coming months.

The advent of new tests has sent thousands of test takers rushing to complete sections of the old test they had left incomplete. Once the upgrade happens, the old scores of “partial passers” will no longer be accepted.

More than 700,000 people took the GED test in 2012. The average test taker is about 26, and many people seeking a high school equivalency diploma are poor. Nationally, about 40 million American adults lack a high school education.

The GED test has been owned by the nonprofit American Council on Education since its inception.

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