For individuals who never completed high school, earning a GED is an important first step in pursuing a brighter future. Although high school graduates have historically performed better in college and in the work force those who dropped out of school, earning a high school equivalency diploma remains the best alternative for dropouts.
Can You Earn Your GED Online?
It is possible to take preparatory classes for the GED online; at the time of writing (February 2013), however, it is not possible to take the exam itself online. Sadly, many individuals desperate to earn their GEDs have fallen for online scams from websites that claim they offer the GED online. For the moment, the official GED test remains a pencil-and-paper exam. Although officials plan to computerize the exam in the near future, as will be discussed below, for the time being any company claiming to offer a GED exam online is either blatantly fraudulent or, at best, misleading.
Legitimate companies haven’t helped this situation; to bring customers in, they use the words “online GED” or “get your GED online,” but actually what they offer is online GED preparatory classes. Sometimes, these companies also offer practice tests for students online, but these practice exams should not be mistaken for actual GED exams.
Big Changes Coming to the GED in 2014
The GED Testing Service, which is the organization that administers the official GED tests, announced on its website that it will “unveil a new assessment in all jurisdictions… that ensures the GED is no longer an endpoint for adults, but a springboard for more education, training and better-paying jobs.” The new version of the GED tests will begin in January 2014. What does this “new assessment” mean for people who plan to take the GED in 2014 and beyond?
For starters, there’s a good chance that students can expect the GED to get harder. Research in the past few years has shown that GED holders do not truly possess the same skills as high school graduates. High school graduates, after all, spend thousands of hours in school, doing homework and completing projects. GED holders generally only take a preparatory course for a few months and often take the exam after less than 100 hours of work.
To address the discrepancies between holders of high school diplomas and holders of GEDs, the GED Testing Service has completely redesigned the exam. The testing organization’s president, Molly Broad, originally conceived the new exam in 2008 when she announced her decision to change the main focus of the test from high school equivalency to college and job preparedness. At about the same time, the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) was sweeping through the United States. These common academic standards were adopted by many states as an agreement as to what types of skills and knowledge high school students should have when they graduate. The subsequent overhaul of the test incorporated these ideas about preparedness from Broad and also aligned the test with the CCSSI. Specifically, the exam creators want the 2014 version of the GED to give colleges and employers better information about the readiness of the GED holder for post-secondary education or a job.
For GED candidates, what all this means is that they should either finish their GED in 2013 or be prepared to take a more complex, and probably more difficult, exam beginning in 2014. Furthermore, unlike the paper-and-pencil exam that is currently offered, the exam that debuts in 2014 will be computer-based. The GED Testing Service has already entered into a joint venture with testing service Pearson VUE to offer the new exam at the company’s computer centers.
How to Prepare for a GED Exam
Individuals who wish to earn a GED should investigate the various free preparatory classes available to them before enrolling in an expensive preparatory course. Community colleges, for example, often provide free preparatory classes for the GED. Unfortunately for those looking for online preparatory classes, however, these free classes tend to be held on campus. However, with a little research, you might be able to find online GED classes that are free or priced reasonably.
For people who cannot commit the time to go to a community college to take GED preparatory classes, online GED classes are certainly still an option. Though they are not usually free, the advantage to these online preparatory courses is that they can be completed on the candidate’s own time. For example, individuals who work during the day can take the courses on their own computers at night; individuals who work at night can take the courses when they want during the day.
Besides difficulty, there are other good reasons to start these preparatory courses for the GED as soon as possible and complete GED testing this year. When the new exam arrives in 2014, adult education centers and GED prep programs will need to realign their own courses with the new test. It is difficult to say if these programs will be ready to prepare students for the new version of the exam. Although the GED Testing Service is doing what it can to help these types of programs get ready for 2014, there is certainly a possibility that not all preparatory courses will be able to adequately prepare students. Without doubt, some preparatory programs will flounder for a few months as they try to iron out kinks in their new course curriculums.
In summary, don’t fall for “GED tests online.” GED scams abound on the Internet. Instead, either take a preparatory class at a local college or enroll in an online GED preparatory class. In both cases, individuals who want to earn their GEDs would be wise to complete their preparation and exam this year before the new test comes out in early 2014.