Niagara Gazette — About 700,000 people take the GED exam yearly in the United States, said Armando Diaz, spokesman for Washington-based GED Testing Service, the trademarked test's creator. About 72 percent passing to earn their states' high school equivalency credential. More than 1 million people are expected to try in 2013 in advance of the change, a number that could strain preparation programs and testing sites.
Although the General Education Development exam has undergone regular updates since being introduced in 1942, the upcoming changes are the most dramatic yet.
"We see that higher ed has new standards, the workforce, the economy's changing," said Diaz. "We decided it's time to completely give the testing program a facelift."
Instead of five sections, the test will be re-aligned into four: reasoning through language arts, mathematical reasoning, science and social studies. The current stand-alone essay section will be incorporated into writing assignments within the language arts and social studies sections, Diaz said.
"I don't think it's going to be a harder test, I just think we're testing different skills," he said.
Tashia Malone of Buffalo is taking no chances, spending her mornings at the Seneca Babcock Community Center's preparation class in hopes of sitting for the two-day test in May.
"I should have done it already. Procrastination is my middle name," said Malone, 34, who dropped out of high school when she became pregnant. "I heard it's going to be a lot harder and cost more next year so I want to get it in now."
EOC Executive Director Julius Gregg Adams suggested that adults unfamiliar with the Common Core standards, a uniform school curriculum heavier on writing and content analysis, may be more comfortable getting the test out of the way this year, though he's reluctant to say the new test will be harder.