Deoaunte Dean was among more than a half-dozen young adults squeezed on chairs and a couch at Skip Eberhardt's Doris Street home. They came to learn academic skills needed to pass the GED test before the test changes in January 2014.
GED administrators and tutors are spreading the word that the test is expected to be more difficult in the new year.
Eberhardt, who tutors students for GED testing, said the new test will include trigonometry. It will be administered only on the computer and cost $120. The option students now have of paying $65 for a GED paper test will be eliminated.
Now people who have passed one portion of the GED test but failed another only need to retake and pass the portion that they failed. But come January, a person who passed only a portion of the former GED will have to pay the full $120 cost and take the entire test again.
No portion of the former GED test will be grandfathered in with the new test, Eberhardt said.
Dean said he is determined to take the test and pass it within the next four months. His goal is to get a job in painting or carpentry earning $12 to $15 an hour.
"I don't want to have to worry about struggling and how I can take care of them," he said while puffing out the ponytail in his daughter's hair. He has three boys and one girl ranging from age 4 to 5 months old.
He has worked without a GED at McDonald's and Sonic but the wages have been lower than he wants, he said.
Pearson Vue, a for-profit company that now owns the rights to the GED test name, said it changed the test to make people with GEDs more competitive for jobs. The company wants the GED to be viewed not as an end point, but as a stepping stone to getting a job or attending college.
The new test is reported to include higher-order math and thinking skills, according to Suzanne Elston, director of Chattanooga State's Adult Education program. Some students who lack computer or typing skills may not be comfortable with the computer test.
And paying for the test, which requires people pay online, may be difficult for students without a credit or debit card, she said.
Eberhardt said he tutors more than a dozen students who have passed their GED preparation test but are delayed in taking the actual test because they don't have the testing fee.
Chattanooga State officials said about 90 students as of June stood in danger of having to retake the entire GED test if they didn't pass the portion that they failed by January 2014.
Chattanooga State Community College is the only place in Chattanooga that administers the GED test. It had 525 students take the GED test within the past year. As of June 2013 about 430 students passed the test. However, Chattanooga State officials said they can't say how many have found employment.
Eberhardt said about nine young adults who tutored under him for the GED got jobs at the M&M Industrial Plant in Lookout Valley, and seven more got hired at Pilgrim's Pride.
The benefit of having the GED test online is that students will get test results immediately for every subject except writing, which will be available online in two to three days, Chattanooga State officials said.
Elston said some students may opt for the HiSet Test, done by a nonprofit organization that created the SAT, GRE and TOEFL tests. It is similar to the GED and will be available in paper format for about $75 in January.
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