ANCHORAGE (AP) -- To keep up with modern times, the General Educational Development test is getting its first overhaul since 1988.
The makeover means people who have passed portions of the five-part test must start over if they don't finish up by the time the revised GED debuts in January.
Anchorage GED testing officials estimate more than 300 people locally have failed one or more parts in recent attempts.
Starting over in January wouldn't just be a hassle, but a waste of money already spent, said James Cronin, chief GED examiner at the University of Alaska Adult Learning Center. Each part of the test costs $5 to take each time.
The university and Nine Star Enterprises, a private firm that gives the tests, are trying to make sure people know they are running out of time on the old test. ''It's a real problem of getting ahold of them,'' Cronin told the Anchorage Daily News.
The test, also called the General Equivalency Degree, covers writing skills, social studies, science, literature and math. It takes seven hours to do the whole thing -- not counting breaks. So almost everyone tries to do it in chunks, Cronin said.
The new GED will be more ''with the times,'' said Joyce Middleton, a test administrator at Nine Star.
For example, there will be more modern questions on social studies and history. The social studies test will use at least one ''practical'' document, like a voter's guide or tax form.
''It won't necessarily be harder,'' Middleton said. ''It will just be updated. So people should not panic.''
Test takers will be allowed to use a calculator on one math section. Language arts and reading tests will draw writing samples from various cultures and time periods. The writing skills test will include business communications such as memos and reports. Science will see an added focus on environmental and health issues such as recycling and pollution.
Overall, the test will be standards-based, just like the national push in high schools for specific, standards-based curriculum.
The cost will remain the same.
In its roughly 50 years of existence, the GED has been revised several times. But changes have never been so drastic that scoring in the new version was not compatible with the previous one, administrators said.
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