GED tests will be tougher come 2014

Published 10:40 am Thursday, October 11, 2012

For the past year, Reginald Coston of Courtland has been studying for his GED. Behind him is Haywood Murphy of Franklin. STEPHEN H. COWLESS/TIDEWATER NEWS



FRANKLIN—The GED test will become more challenging for students come January 2014.

Rose Vanessa Collins, the GED program manager in Franklin, believes the exams will be equivalent to what’s required for high school students. In addition, testing will be done only online.

“Currently it’s pencil and paper,” Collins said. “You can take it on a computer in certain areas in Virginia, but come Jan. 1, 2014, that won’t be an option.”

“That doesn’t sound like an issue to most folks,” she continued. “However, when dealing with the population we have, some — not all — will be challenged.”

Also known as the General Education Development test, the high school diploma equivalency exam was last updated in 2002. It includes reading, writing, math, social studies and science.

A student who has not earned a GED by the end of 2013 will have to start over. This revision is prompting students to make sure they pass the tests before 2014.

“This brain don’t need no more pressure,” Haywood Murphy laughed when talking about the new, tougher exam.

The 57-year-old Franklin man has been in the program for a year. A laid-off heavy equipment operator, Murphy realizes that to get another job with better pay meant getting his GED.

Math is his weakest subject, and the last time he took the test, he missed passing by three points.

“I expect to have my GED in a year,” he said.

“Math is the only thing I need,” said Reginald Coston, 52, a trucker from Courtland. “I didn’t pass the last time, but I’ll try again until I get before the revision.”

Latoyia Williams, 33, began her studies in September 2011.

“I have always been looking for a way to get my GED,” Williams said. “I owe it to my kids and myself. I need to do something for me.”

The Franklin woman passed all but the math portion; she missed passing by 10 points the last time.

“I’m not going to give up,” she said. “I’m determined.”

Passing this December is her goal and then she plans to go to college.

Beatrice Lontine, 57, and Mae Britt, 63, both of Franklin, said they’re better in math than reading.

While Lontine is in no hurry to finish, Margaret Stephens, 63, thinks a harder test will make a difference, but she’s hoping that won’t stop her.

An art teacher at J.P. King Middle School in Franklin, Collins arranges testing four times a year. This year she has 41 students.

Collins mentioned that there are seven to eight students who only need math to pass, and that’s the number one area people fail. The writing part of the reading section is the second trouble spot.

Robin Rose, the GED examiner for Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight County, agrees with Collins.

“The skills areas have to be competitive as to what is being taught currently in high school,” Rose said.

Rose confirmed that math and writing are challenges.

“That really shows even in GED test scores,” she said. “They’re challenged the most in math and writing.”

She advised GED students not to take those subjects for granted.

“So often they’ve underestimated content level on the tests,” said Rose.