The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Finish GED testing before end of year

Changes coming for high school equivalency test


Valdez Star photo

Get going with your GED testing; that is the word from Michael Holcombe, the basic education regional director, of PWSCC. Changes are coming to the General Education Diploma, which could make it harder – and costlier – to complete the program’s tests.

Anyone that has started but not finished the rounds of testing needed to earn a general education diploma, commonly called the GED, should get back on track and finish the testing well before the end of 2013.

Serious changes are coming to the test in 2014 according to Michael Holcombe, the director of adult basic education at Prince William Sound Community College, which could make it harder – and more expensive – to earn that high school equivalency diploma.

Anyone who has passed one or more of the five tests since 2002 must finish – and pass – all five tests before Dec. 31, 2013 or the tests already passed will expire and no longer count.

This also applies to anyone who has been considering beginning the process of earning a GED, Holcombe said.

This is due to the fact that the GED is changing to a 100 percent computer-based testing model. Testing will no longer be offered free of charge after 2013.

According to the Alaska Dept. of Labor, over 5000 Alaskans started but did not finish testing for the GED since 2002. It says current test takers have three chances within this calendar year to take a test for each section.

Though college classes have ended for the last school-year, Holcombe says preparations can still be made at the college during regular business hours.

“You have until June 2 to come and see me,” Holcombe said in an interview Monday. This also applies to people that may have began testing in another state but now live in Alaska. “Come and see me, we’ll look at your scores.”

Adult basic education courses, including ESL, GED testing and preparation classes will resume after summer’s break Holcombe said.

“There will be GED classes and general adult basic education in September,” he said.

If changes in the testing area are not enough push people to finish or start GED testing in 2013, maybe the charges that are coming will. GED testing services, including practice tests, preparation classes and the actual testing are currently offered through the college and satellite campuses free of charge. That too will change in 2014. Holcombe said the company that will administer the newly mandated computer based testing is charging fees ranging from $40 on up. While the prices have not yet been set for Alaska, he estimates the total cost of GED testing to range from $250 to $500.

“We don’t get the money for the testing,” Holcombe said. The company administering the computer testing does.

Beginning in 2014, The revamped GED computer-based tests will be taken on computer only and include four tests instead of five according to the company, GED Testing Service. The new version combines the writing and reading test into one language arts test.

“While most test questions will remain multiple choice, some essay questions will be included,” the company’s website said.

While it may seem like there is plenty of time to prepare, Holcombe said there are important deadlines for both returning test takers and for new alike.

September 15 is the very last day GED seekers can register to take the tests under the old model. December 15 is the last day the current GED tests will be available.

Tony Gorman photo

Prince William Sound Community College held its graduation ceremony Saturday for degree earners, those that earned certificates and yes, those that passed the GED.

Support classes will also be offered for those who may want or need preparation support.

“Come fall, we’ll be doing math classes four times a week,” Holcombe said.

ESL and other support classes or tutoring will also be made available to help test takers prepare.

Holcombe said test takers generally perform better after taking classes rather compared to one-on-on tutoring, and he hopes to add more classes by fall. That, he said, will be determined by the number of people signing up for the testing.

In a press release issued by the college, Holcombe said the GED test has opened doors to better jobs and college programs for more than 18 million graduates since 1942. Last year nearly 800,000 adults sat for the GED test, which is accepted by virtually all U.S. colleges and employers.


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