Posted at: 02/18/2013 6:23 PM
By: Dan Conradt
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a program that has helped more than 18 million people since it began, and it's about to get its first make-over in more than a decade.
And this change comes with a deadline.
"General education development is what it stands for," said Austin Public Schools “Adult Basic Education” instructor Dennis Schwab.
We know it as GED.
"It's an equivalent test that gives students the opportunity to have a certificate that's equal to a high school diploma," Dennis Schwab explained.
And on January first of next year, the program is changing.
"The tests are going to be switched over from paper and pencil tests to computer-based testing," said Austin Public Schools ABE coordinator Janice Mino.
“The types of questions will be changing, how people answer the questions will change, there will be a little more writing," added ABE instructor Dennis Schwab.
Getting a GED will still require passing five tests. But before and after won't mix.
"Students who have begun the process of taking their GED would need to start over if they have not passed by January first, 2014," Dennis Schwab explained.
“Even if they've passed four of the five tests they would have to take those four tests they've already passed completely over," Janice Mino added.
Getting a GED can take as little as a month for students who can skip prep classes and pass the practice tests. For others
"It could take more than a year," Dennis Schwab told us.
“You can't do anything today without a high school diploma or at least a GED," said student Heather Christianson.
"For some people they might not be able to get a promotion, they might have difficulty finding work at all," ABE coordinator Janice Mino said. “Also, colleges require a high school diploma or a GED.”
"I need my GED in order to go through college courses," Heather Christian said. After taking two years of on-line school … “It wasn't for me" … she went looking for alternatives.
“And basically they told me I'd be better off getting my GED because I had only four credits as a senior in high school."
It took two months between the time she started the process and the time her GED arrived in the mail. And next up is college.
“I plan to go back and possibly go for my RN or LPN. Being able to say I have my GED is probably the greatest feeling in the world," Christian said.
“I would advise to get started right now, and there is enough time to get it done between now and January first," ABE instructor Dennis Schwab said.
The last major change in the GED program came in 2002.