FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Students seeking a General Equivalency Diploma will take a test radically different than the ones offered the last 14 years.
''The test has changed so dramatically that for the first time in the GED's history, the scores from the old test cannot be combined with the new test scores,'' said Karen Seay, GED examiner and credentials coordinator for the Adult Learning Programs of Alaska. ''For the first time in the GED's history anyone who has not passed by (Dec. 31, 2001), they have to start all over.''
The test will include more questions based on business-related documents such as memos or job applications, Seay said.
The language arts tests emphasizes organization skills more than in the past, she said, and the essay portion has a new scoring scale.
The new test covers the same subject areas as in the past: Language arts, math, social studies and science. Seay said spelling is not part of the new tests, except for a few questions on homonyms.
Scoring has been changed from a 20- to 80-point scoring scale to a 200- to 800-point scale, she said, because people were confusing the former scores with percentages. Students must receive a minimum of 410 points on each portion of the test to pass.
''A 500 represents the average performance of a graduating high school senior,'' Seay said. ''This new test is a vigorous test and when this test was normed on a national scale, about 40 percent of seniors tracked to graduate could not pass it. It is a myth to think that the GED is an easy test.''
Whether the test is harder or easier than the last depends on the student, said ALPA instructors Paul Vick and Chris McBride. For visual learners, it could be easier, they said.
Students will be forced to draw from their own experiences to answer questions, Vick said. For example, he said, some portions of the test used to include a written passage, and all the answers to the accompanying questions could be found in that passage.
''Now the information from the passage will not be sufficient alone to answer these questions,'' Vick said. ''Instead of just memorizing an answer, they are expected to be problem-solvers and I think that is what the GED is trying to reflect.''
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