Anyone seeking their General Educational Development certificate should know the GED test is changing.
In the next 14 months, steps will be taken to switch over from the 2002 Series GED test to the new test, said Dona Anderson, Adult Basic Education Program manager and chief GED examiner for Southwest Adult Basic Education Jackson Region, which encompasses four counties and 10 school districts, including Fairmont and Blue Earth.
The test will change in three ways, she said:
o The current test has five parts: literacy, mathematics, science, social studies and writing. The new test will have just the first four.
"They're eliminating writing, but writing will be included in parts of the other four," Anderson said.
o "The biggest thing is it's all going to be done on the computer," Anderson said.
"It's just keeping up with the times," she added. "Technology is the wave of the future. Everything's being done on computers. It's also to keep up with graduation standards."
o The price will double - from $60 for a complete test series to approximately $120.
Test takers can complete each section individually; it can take as long as three years for some people to complete it, depending on how much they need to study.
"For anyone who has started testing, taken and passed any part of the test, they can complete the [current] test until the end of 2013," Anderson said. "I can look up test scores and check if they passed. People are not notified of scores unless they call here."
Some people take the test multiple times before they pass, and Anderson recommends they seek help in reviewing the material.
For those who have been thinking about getting their GED, but haven't started the process, Anderson does not recommend procrastinating until the changes are implemented.
"It's never too early to start," Anderson said. "You don't need to wait until 2014."
Some people need only to brush up on their knowledge and skills to be ready to take the test by the end of 2013. Even those who need more prep time can start now.
"Many need to start getting computer skills; they need to know keyboarding," Anderson said. "They can work on some programs at home on the computer: reading and math, and Rosetta Stone - that's brand-new, pretty cool."
She recommends going to a local community education program and finding out where GED classes are offered. Classes and materials are free. Adult Basic Education does a basic skills assessment to determine each individual's knowledge and readiness to take the GED.
There are many reasons why getting a GED is a good idea.
You used to be able to enroll in college without a high school diploma, Anderson said. Now, a high school diploma or GED certificate is required. Employers are also requiring a diploma or GED certificate before they consider a candidate for a job.
The GED used to be considered inferior to a high school diploma, but no longer, Anderson said.
"It's not an easy test. They've had high school graduates take the test and many can't pass it," she said. "It's recognized as equivalent to a high school diploma."
Anderson sees a GED certificate as vital for success in today's workforce.
"I really encourage anyone who's thinking about it to go to a class and see what it's all about," she said.
For more information about classes and GED testing in this area, check out: southwestabe.org
GED testing sites throughout Minnesota can be found at: www.gedtestinglocations.com
Locally, people can call the Fairmont ABE office at (507) 235-3141; Blue Earth at (507) 526-3172; Sherburn at (507) 728-8284; and St. James at (507) 375-4517. Other numbers are listed on the website.