GED test preparation programs in Athens are changing to prepare students for the new GED test, according to program coordinators.
The new test, which was revealed on January 2, is computer-based only with exceptions for those with disabilities. The old test, created in 2002, was comprised of five sections: language arts reading, math, science, social studies and language arts writing; the new version combines reading and writing into one section called literacy while the other sections remain the same.
According to the GED testing services’ website, the latest version of the test was designed to better prepare students with career and college readiness skills. Anyone who did not pass all sections of the GED test in 2013 will have to start over entirely with the new test.
Kimberly Taylor, program administrator for Action Ministries in Athens, said the organization’s program will offer computer classes in addition to the GED classes. Action Ministries’ GED classes are offered on Monday and Thursday mornings with a study hall on Tuesdays.
Taylor said the computer classes will be offered on Wednesday and Friday mornings, essentially making it an entire week of classes for students.
“We’re going to tier those computer classes specifically to the skills that the students are going to need to know to maneuver the website,” Taylor said.
The new GED website, www.ged.com features a MyGED portal, which is an all-access site for prospective test-takers. On the site individuals create a free account, which grants them access to online study materials and practice tests; registration to take the new test is also done on this site.
Taylor said their GED classroom will ultimately be shifted to the computer lab so that students can get become comfortable with computer skills while getting one-on-one help with online preparation materials from tutors.
Action Ministries’ GED program averages 15-20 students per semester, according to Taylor. She said she believes the computer skills will be essential to students beyond just taking the online GED test.
“It’ll be a lot to adapt to but in the long run I think these are really good skills to be developing and I really like the new website,” Taylor said.
The GED program at First Baptist Church averages six students at a time, according to Elizabeth Eidson, one of the program’s coordinators. Eidson said it is “too early to tell” how students will respond to the new test but the now combined literacy section is the program’s primary concern.
“We’re going to have to change the way we teach writing,” said Edison. “The demands for essay writing are going to be quite different now.”
Their program is offered on Monday and Wednesday afternoons; the organization also offers computer classes once a week which may have to be extended.
Students in both programs at Action Ministries and First Baptist are diverse in age and educational background. Taylor and Eidson both expressed concern that the new test may isolate those students who have little to no experience with computers.
GED testing for both programs will still be provided by Athens Technical College. Dan Smith, executive vice president of institutional effectiveness at Athens Tech, said the college learned about the GED test change about two years ago.
He said past and current students who had not completed all sections of the test were contacted and encouraged to complete the test by the end of 2013 or their scores would expired.
Athens Tech’s Adult Education program averages around 1500 students per year, according to Smith. He said that majority of the students in the program are exposed to computers while preparing for the test but there may be a period of adjustment to the new version.
“Faculty have to prepare for changes as well as students,” said Smith, “and when faculty do their jobs the transition is easier for students.”
The total cost of the test will remain at $160. Students who cannot afford to pay for the test can apply for scholarships in their region using the MyGED portal.