MERCED — The GED test, which students must pass to receive the equivalent of a high school diploma, is changing next year, both in content and its format.
Debbie Glass, Merced Adult School principal, said effective next January the test can be taken only on computers and test questions will be aligned with common core state standards.
The current GED test includes reading, writing, science, social studies and math. To earn a certificate, each test subject must be passed with a minimum score, Glass said.
The 2014 GED test will have four sections: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science and social studies. Questions will test students' college and career readiness.
Glass said the computerized test now is being administered with older subject questions. There are about eight hours of testing, with each section taking about 65 to 90 minutes to complete.
Christy Tatum, GED preparation teacher, said currently all five subjects are taught, with an emphasis on math. Two hours daily are spent on improving mathematics; math and writing are the areas where most students struggle.
"More focus is being placed on writing skills," Tatum said, "and writing skills will be essential with the new 2014 GED test. Students will be expected to type in responses to questions across all subject areas, including math."
Students also will be expected to critically think and apply their knowledge in several areas. Project-based learning has improved critical thinking skills and students have enjoyed completing real life projects, according to Tatum.
Kristin Blanchard, program manager and chief examiner, said 17 computer-based tests have been administered, some of which were for Merced Adult School GED students. Teachers report students who took a GED test on computer passed.
Glass said the GED test originally was developed in 1942 as a proof of high school equivalency, so American servicemen who left high school to enlist in World War II could continue their education once they returned home.
The GED Testing Service has managed the testing, which is available in all 50 states and many other countries and military bases across the world. About every 10 years the GED test changes to keep in step with educational trends in secondary education.
The current test has been in place for 11 years. Anyone who has passed some portion of the current test but not all of it needs to pass the remaining sections by Dec. 19 or they will have to begin again on the new tests and be required to pay their fees again.
It costs $140 to take the test, Glass said.
Merced Adult School had 274 GED graduates during the 2012-13 school year. The school has recently been named as one of three electronic Pearson Vue GED testing sites in the San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. The test site is at the Castle Commerce Center. Test takers can register, schedule and pay for their tests online.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.