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Taking a closer look at the GED
The test actually consists of five separate tests, and it was first used by the military immediately after World War II
October 25, 2012
Everyone has heard the term, the GED or General Education Development (GED) certificate, an alternative to a high school diploma.
But what does this certificate really mean, and what are some misnomers and facts that surround it?
Melissa Potter has been with the Adult Basic Education Program at Central Oregon Community College for 21 years. She teaches a variety of classes, including the GED preparation.
“The United States are kind of unique, in that it does allow adults to go back and finish an education that they didn’t complete when they were younger,” said Potter.
She added that in some countries, the opportunity to go back and finish high school is not an option for adults.
“The GED test is one indicator of a student being able to complete a level of education that is equivalent to a high school diploma,” she added.
The GED certificate indicates that an individual has the same level of education abilities as high school graduates, and is accepted by colleges, training schools and employers nationwide. There are, however, some employers and parts of the military who do not accept the GED.
In all, there are five tests and they cover the core education areas. These include math, language arts reading and writing, science, and social studies. Because of copyright issues, sample questions cannot be released, but they are available online. Most questions are multiple choice, although some parts of the tests are not.
The GED test has been in existence since right after World War II, and the military first devised the tests.
“They were first used by the military right after World War II because so many of the GIs had stopped school to go to war, and when they came back they didn’t have a college education or any way to support a family,” said Potter.
For many of the GIs coming home, going back to high school was a daunting task.
She said that when the tests were no longer used for this purpose, the tests were turned over to the GED Testing Service. Potter said that the tests have been continually upgraded and revised, based on the abilities of seniors coming out of high school.
“They normed the test on high school seniors, and found that generally, for all the times that the test was given, 70 percent of the seniors could do what a person would have to do get a GED,” said Potter. “That means that 30 percent of the seniors that are getting a high school diploma could not do what people have to do to get a GED.”
Potter said that the GED test is in the process of being revised to be taken online. The current version has been used since 2002, and students can still go online and test with this version.
“In 2014, there will be a new version of the test coming out.”
She added that at that time, anyone who hasn’t finished passing their tests will have to start over. Usually there is a three-year window to take the tests and pass. Each test must be passed with a minimum score of 410, and an average of 450 for all testing areas. It includes a short essay as well.
If a student is under the age of 18, they must have a high school release form before they can take the GED tests.
In addition to helping students with their GED, Potter teaches math, reading, writing, and an English language learner class. Some of these classes can be used to help students get ready for the GED test. They also help prepare students to prepare for college classes or gain skills for the workplace.
“It’s a great benefit to our COCC students and the community of Crook County,” said Prineville Central Oregon Community Campus Coordinator Suzie Kristensen. “It’s a service that a lot of people need, and may not be aware of the fact that they need it. The GED or a high school diploma is required for several things that have not been required for in the past. It is imperative that some of our students have those basic skills before they enter college.”
The main portal page for the GED website is www.gedtestingservice.com.
To locate a testing center, go to www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/locate-a-testing-center
GED sample questions: www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/sample-questions
M. Melissa Potter can be reached at 541-318-3794 for more questions on Adult Basic Skills.