Take the Mystery Out of the Computer-Based GED® Test

As adult education programs around the country discuss the pros and cons of Computer Based Testing (CBT) for the GED® Exam, it may be helpful to explore the experiences of one of the Illinois pilot programs. Frontier Community College (FCC) was notified in July of 2012 that they were chosen to represent downstate Illinois as one of three pilot programs for CBT. Frontier Community College opened their pilot of CBT on Oct. 29th.

On Oct. 30, 2012, the first candidate at FCC completed the computer-based test and within the first week, the number jumped to 11 testing candidates. As with testing candidates across the state, each test taker brought unique skills, background knowledge, and experiences to the test. They ranged in age from 17 to 55, had minimal to no typing skills. The oldest student had never turned on a computer until four months prior to taking the CBT. So, how did it turn out? Nine of the eleven candidates passed the portion of the GED® test for which they tested. The candidates were very positive about the test indicating that it was easier. They felt they could relate to the topic of the essay question. As a result, test takers felt it improved their writing. The testers noted the display of the test allowed for each question or item set to be shown individually. The outcome was the ability to focus on one question at a time. FCC testers were relieved to not have to worry about bubbling an answer on the wrong line.

The process for the registration to the test is fairly simple according to what Frontier Community College experienced during the pilot. The candidate has to register online to set up an account at: http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/test-on-computer. The candidate is required to have an e-mail address and a credit or debit card. (In the event a person cannot be online nor have an e-mail address, they must contact the GED® Testing Service 1-877-392-6433, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., CST.) The candidate is allowed to register up to 24 hours prior to taking the GED® test. Occasionally, the system will allow a shorter amount of time.

On the day of the test, students must abide by the following rules. When they enter the computer based testing site, the candidate has a check-off list for taking the GED® test.

• The participant must empty their pockets of everything, except their ID. Their belongings are locked in a safe place until after the test is completed.
• The candidate’s identification must show their date of birth.
• The examiner has to enter the candidate into the system and the candidate digitally signs and is photographed.
• If the candidate is taking a math test, he/she has a choice to use the hand held Casio fx -260 calculator or the computer calculator. Since no paper is allowed in the testing site, the candidate is given a graphed laminated sheet with an expo marker. The candidate must sign in and out for the calculator and laminated sheet. On the 2014 Assessment the only option shared by GEDTS to date for the calculator is the online emulator.
• There is a 20 minute tutorial at the beginning of each subject. The candidate may proceed faster through tutorial or take the allotted time.
• After they complete the test the printer will instantly give the results for reading, science, social studies, and math.
• The writing results will be sent to the candidate’s account within 2-5 business days.
• If applicable, the participant returns and signs-in the laminated sheets and calculator. At that time, their belongings are returned to them.

Frontier Community College computer-based testing site has a pass rate of over 80 percent. Currently, GED Testing Service is offering a second shot. This allows the tester a second opportunity to take the test free of charge. Please visit the GEDTS website for more details http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/test-on-computer.

Over-all, Frontier feels the computer based test is relevant for the candidates and it seems that they have enough completion time. A person with minimal typing skills appears to have enough time to complete the writing essay. The transition from the 2002 GED® test to the CBT 2014 GED® will be challenging, but we must focus on the advantages to the students. We must make certain that GED® examiners, staff, and faculty are properly trained. We must also look for ways to assist students with funding.

A special thanks to Cindy Foerster, Director of Adult Education, Frontier Community College, Illinois for sharing her programs experiences related to being a CBT pilot location.

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