GED changes take effect after today's deadline

New test awaits any who haven't passed all 5 parts by today

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter



Changes to GED program


Current: Five tests in writing, reading, social studies, science and mathematics.

2014: Four tests, with reading and writing combined into one assessment.


Current: Either on paper or online in Clark’s testing center.

2014: Online only in Clark’s testing center.


Current: $150.

2014: $120, or $30 for each test; can be paid per test.


Current: Relied more on reading skills to come up with answers.

2014: Requires more critical and analytical thinking.

On the Web

Today is the last day people can take the current General Educational Development test at Clark College, the only designated GED testing center in Clark County.

Those who have not passed all five parts of the GED by today will have to take an all-new test beginning in January. At that point GED testing no longer will be offered as a paper test but must be taken online at a testing center.

Clark College contacted those who had begun but not finished the GED to alert them of the impending deadline and coming changes.

"We've had a big surge (of GED test-takers) in last couple of months," said Mirranda Saari, associate director of enrollment services at Clark College. Her office administers GED testing.

Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 17, 397 people took at least one GED test at Clark College, and 274 completed the five-part test, Saari said. That's a 60 percent increase from the same period last year.

"We found it to be a good motivator," said Larry Ruddell, director of basic education at Clark College. "A lot of students worked harder to get it done because they knew they were under the gun. A number of students buckled down to get that last test or two done."

In 2013, 1,117 people took the GED test at Clark, and 852 earned their GED certificate. Since 2002, 9,980 people have taken the GED at Clark and 8,411 earned their certificate, Saari said.

Statewide, more than 14,000 earn their GED certificate annually, according to the State Board for Technical and Community Colleges, which oversees the GED testing program.

The GED, which has been used for 70 years, is the only high school equivalency credential recognized by all 50 states. Not long ago, a GED was the pathway to a living-wage job, but now most jobs require more education, Ruddell said.

GED changes

The current GED has five tests and costs $150. The new GED has four tests and costs $120. The test has other changes too.

Currently, the GED tests are "really reading tests, how well can they read, not what do they know," Ruddell said.

For most subjects, students currently write a five-point essay in 45 minutes, he said.

In the new GED tests, students will have to prove their critical and analytical thinking and be able to synthesize a conclusion, Ruddell said.

"Now even in the math test, not only will you give an answer, you have to explain how you arrived at your answer," he said. "They're going for depth of knowledge. There's a lot more problem-solving."

Online test

Clark began offering the computer-based GED in October 2012 before most other colleges offered it. However, it was still the 2002 test. Beginning Jan. 2, Clark will offer the 2014 four-part computer-based test only. Students will not be offered an option to take the test on paper.

People like the computer-based version better, Saari said. The GED will still be administered in a test room, but people will be able to take the four tests at their own pace. The computer-based testing has more than a 80 percent pass rate, higher than the paper-format test, Saari said.

Students who didn't pass the GED test on the first time get a second try at no charge. Online test-takers can schedule the different tests at their convenience, she said.

"The computer-based GED is a lot more user friendly," Saari said. "With the 2014 version, there are more online resources to help students prepare for the test."