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Pencils down, the time is up: GED test is changing

The new GED testing center at Minnesota State College - Southeast Technical in Red Wing is scheduled to open in January. New policy, procedure and approval from Pearson VUE could slow the process. (Republican Eagle photo by John Russett)

For those looking to complete any unfinished portions of the GED test, time – and space – is not on their side.

A new version of the five-part test, to be administered by computer only, will begin in January. No portion of the current test will carry over to the new exam, meaning anyone with an incomplete exam will have to start from the beginning.

Theresa Luther-Dolan, Hiawatha Valley Adult Basic Education director and chief GED examiner in Red Wing, said she has been getting calls from numerous locations with people hoping to get their test finished before the end of the year.

“It’s pretty much full everywhere,” she said, adding those who haven’t completed the test or scheduled to complete it at this point will have a tough time finding an open testing site.

New center coming

Luther-Dolan said a new testing center will open in Red Wing at Minnesota State College–Southeast Technical, but shedoesn’t have an exact date because there are still too many unknowns.

New procedures and new site renovations can take a while to coordinate, she said.

GED testing centers will now need to be approved by Pearson VUE, an electronic testing company, before being allowed to administer the revamped test. Having to get that approval could slow the process even further, Luther-Dolan said.

The requirements are strict and the equipment is expensive, said Dawn Wettern, director of Red Wing Community Education.

Luther-Dolan said she hopes the new facility will open sometime in January.

Even with the challenges of wrapping up the current test along with unknowns and possible delays beginning the new test, Luther-Dolan said the GED is moving in the right direction.

“I think there are a lot of positive changes,” she said.

Test-takers will now be measured more closely with high school graduates as well as for career and college readiness, and results will be available sooner, Luther-Dolan said.

The current test does not provide any breakdown of right and wrong answers, she said, but students who take the new exam are going to get much better acknowledgement of the skills they have.

While most people are embracing the change, Luther-Dolan said, there has been some skepticism of the move to a new testing format.

In 2011 the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit American Council on Education – which was previously solely responsible for the GED test – partnered with the for-profit company Pearson to form the GED Testing Service. That entity has driven the design and delivery of the new GED test.

The GED Testing Service has offices in Washington, D.C., and Bloomington, Minn.

The new system of tests brings with it a higher price – $120 – which will be the cost through 2015, according to a memorandum released by the GED Testing Service.

The price used to be set at local levels, but is now set nationally by Pearson VUE, Wettern said. The cost to take the current set of tests in Red Wing is $80.

Minnesota will continue to offer the GED assessment as its high school equivalency test, a decision made by the Minnesota Department of Education and approved by the Minnesota Legislature.

Some states, however, have decided to go in a different direction.

Iowa, along with New Hampshire, Montana and Missouri, will no longer offer the GED assessment starting in January, and will offer the Educational Testing Service’s HiSET test instead.

New York state law prohibits charging individuals to take the test. In response to higher costs for GED testing, the state has decided to go with California-based CTB/McGraw-Hill’s Test Assessing Secondary Completion for high school equivalency assessment.

New Jersey, West Virginia, Wyoming, Indiana and Nevada have joined New York and will also offer TASC as their high school equivalency assessments.

Educational Testing Service has listed the price of its test at $50 and McGraw-Hill lists its test at $52. Neither price includes any additional state administration fees.

TASC and HiSET test-takers will have a choice between a computer or paper test and states will have an option as to whether previously passed portions of the GED test will be accepted and rolled in to the new tests.

Wisconsin offers multiple options for earning a high school equivalency diploma; one of which includes the GED certificate as part that option.

Regardless of which test students take – whether it be the TASC, HiSET, or the GED – Wettern said they all need the same skill set and knowledge.

The name GED comes with a certain amount of validity, she said, and it might take a while for alternative tests to reach that recognition.

Wettern said she believes much of the anxiety around the push to finish the GED testing by year’s end would be present regardless of a new format.

“Even if the test wasn’t changing, they would feel the same way,” she said, adding that a tremendous amount of hard work goes into completing the tests and many people simply want to be finished.

Moving forward

Theresa Luther-Dolan said her staff has been preparing for the changes to the GED test and they will continue to offer classes to help prepare students for the new test as well as classes to help with any computer skills they may need before taking the new exam.

Anyone looking for more information can go to or call the Red Wing GED testing center.

Phone: 651-385-4562

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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