Changes to the GED Tests: A Double-Edged Sword?

Major changes are on the way for the series of tests known as the G-E-D, or General Educational Development tests. 

These are the tests taken by people who have left high school without receiving a diploma. 

Starting in 2014, a new GED test will be used.

The material covered on those tests is designed to be roughly equivalent to what students are supposed to learn while they’re in high school, and it makes it possible for students without diplomas in many cases to go on to college.

But, as part of its usual review process, the test is undergoing a transformation early next year.  And not only will that have an impact on future students taking the test, but it also stands to affect people who have passed some – but not all – of the current GED tests.

Edgar Mendez reported on the issue for the online Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.  He says one impact is that the test will be tougher.  "It’s going to take more higher-order thinking," Mendez says.  "So basically, for example, in the math test, you’re going to have to be able to write an equation – so that’s something that’s a lot different. Before, it was just multiple choice."

But aside from the rigor, the process itself will have an impact.  People who have passed only some of the five tests required in the GED must pass them all by the end of the year - or they'll be forced to start over, using the new tests.  

"There are twenty-eight hundred people in Milwaukee that have passed some of the tests. So they have to schedule the rest of the tests as soon as possible." - Edgar Mendez

But he also notes that the news is coming as a surprise to some who are studying for the tests.  "People assume you have forever to [pass] them," he says.  

Moreover, the organizations that help people prepare for the tests aren't able to reach all the people who might sign up for help.  "Basically, you have to hope the come in, looking for GED help, or that they find out about the changes some other way," Mendez says.