The national GED test gives high school dropouts who pass the test the equivalent of a high school diploma. The five-part exam will undergo a complete redesign Jan. 1, 2014, that will do away with pencil and paper and make it an entirely computer-based test with multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.
It also will be more closely aligned with the new college and career ready standards, making it more difficult, said Kim Lee, vice chancellor for adult education for the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. The current test was revised slightly in 2002 but this will be the first major overhaul in the GED's nearly 70-year history.
The General Education Development test is a national norm reference exam currently developed by the nonprofit GED Testing Services. It has been purchased by the for-profit Pearson Vue Testing company, which will do away with the written format of the test, and make it a computer based exam that still will be timed.
That means programs that offer preparatory classes for the GED will need to focus on keyboarding skills, Lee said.
"Keyboarding is definitely an issue," she said.
The cost of the exam - currently $50 in Alabama - will likely triple, Lee said. The state Board of Education still must approve the cost increase, she said, but it looks like the recommendation will be to increase the cost charged to the test-taker to $150.
The new test will give two separate scores: one for high school curriculum knowledge and the other for college or career readiness.