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To register to take the 2014 GED tests go to www.gedready.com.  Good luck!

The GED is a test for people who never finished high school. Passing the test will give them the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The current version of the GED test in Alabama was revised slightly in 2002 to reflect career and college-ready content standards. That test became more demanding, especially in the area of math.

Scheduled for revamping in 2012, the test overhaul was delayed because of the purchase.

After January 2014, test-takers will no longer use pencil and paper. Everything will be completed on computer, including essay writing. There will be two separate scoring categories: high school curriculum knowledge and preparedness for entering college or a career.

“Ultimately, it will be harder to obtain a GED diploma once these changes go into effect,” said Donnie Sweeney, director of the Northwest-Shoals Community College Adult Education Program. “I don’t see that computer-based is better because some people today that take the test don’t have those typing skills.”

Sweeney said GED test-takers two years from now must have keyboarding skills. More knowledge in math will be required and other portions of the test will be more in depth to coincide with Alabama’s course of study.

Also, it could cost more to take the test in 2014. In Alabama, the test costs $50. The cost of the new test could as much as triple, but that price has yet to be determined.

“My best advice for anyone considering obtaining the GED is to go ahead and enroll in GED preparatory classes now and get it done,” Sweeney said. “These changes are definitely coming, and people don’t need to delay it. Jobs are coming to our area that absolutely require a high school diploma or GED, so it’s vitally important.”

John Vines, Alabama’s director for GED Testing, said the GED Testing Service in Washington, D.C., will continue under the American Council on Education and its name will remain the same.

“It’s probably time for the test to go to a computer-based system,” he said. “The thought was that it might provide more testing opportunities. The plan for the various states is to continue using the existing testing centers as well as any additional centers provided by Pearson Vue.”

Sweeney’s testing centers are at Northwest-Shoals Community College campuses in Muscle Shoals and Phil Campbell.

Vines said pilot studies and other testing have been done to determine the feasibility of the changes. So far, no major problems have been reported from younger or older individuals in the studies.

“People will have to get accustomed to doing an essay on the computer with a keyboard. That’s the biggest change I see,” Vines said.

Vines said he doesn’t know what the cost of the test will be in Alabama but, “we intend to keep it at $50 until we’re told to change it with the new test. I’d advise people to go on and take the test within the next (year and a half).”

As for the preparatory classes for the GED, they’ll continue to be free. Sweeney said those classes will be “even more needed.”

With classes throughout northwestern Alabama, teachers will continue preparing test-takers but some say they’ll be reviewing the new test components themselves.

“It’s tougher material that we’ll be teaching, especially with math, so the teachers will be brushing up on their skills as well,” said Betty Stone, a longtime teacher in the Northwest-Shoals Adult Education program.

Stone said the number of participants in preparatory classes has been stable at most locations. She added that when the test changes, there’s typically an increase in those seeking a GED diploma. The online classes currently offered have been popular as well. Students taking the GED preparation class online must still go to a testing center to take the test.

Adult education teacher Wanda Vandiver said there will be more subtle changes as well, such as counting off points for misspelled words in the essay.

“I’m encouraging people to go on and get it now, because it is certainly going to be more difficult in 2014,” she said. “I’m afraid the older people, particularly, will struggle.”

Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .