The rush is on to take the GED high school equivalency exam before a more rigorous and costly version rolls out in January. The cost will jump from $50 to $120, the current pencil-and-paper format will be replaced by a computer and the content will be more rigorous to align with the new common core standards. In addition, if test takers don't pass every test section by the end of the year, their previous scores will be wiped out and they'll have to start over.
One young mother thankful she finished before the deadline is Montserrat Duarte, who says the test is taxing enough already.
"The $50 was already difficult enough, and I know a lot of my classmates had no computer knowledge," said Duarte, who passed the exam in October. "I did it because I want a better life for my family and education is the key to that. I hope the changes won't be barriers for others."
Duarte prepared for the GED through classes at Harper College, which has spent months preparing for the new version by revamping curriculum and piloting a program allowing the option for a computerized exam. The Harper College Educational Foundation also provided the college's Adult Education Department with a grant to buy vouchers for test takers unable to afford the exam. And to accommodate the influx, the number of testing dates and openings was increased. "It's been so busy that we don't have any more openings for people who want to take the test," associate professor Maria Knuth said.