A computer-based version of the GED will be available at testing centers in four states by next year and is likely to be available nationwide by 2013, a year before a new version of the exam is unveiled.
The GED Testing Service, which develops and delivers the General Educational Development exam, will become a for-profit entity in connection with the change in the way the test can be administered.
The expectation is that a computer-based test will be available in every state at some time in 2013, C.T. Turner, director of public affairs for GED Testing Service, said.
“The reason we want to make sure of that,” Turner said, is that computer tests will become the predominant mode of delivering the GED when a new version is unveiled in 2014.
“The default version will be computer-based,” he said.
The testing service expects the move to computer-based tests to increase the number of people who can take the exam every year. “We’re leaving way too many people behind every year,” Turner said. “There are 1.3 million high school dropouts added each year, and we’re testing 800,000 [annually] for the GED.”
Testing agencies in many states only schedule large-group sessions at area college classrooms for the current paper tests. The computer-based test could be administered at the testing agency anytime, as long as a proctor was present.
The computer test will take the same amount of time as the written GED, but test-takers will instantaneously receive their score for everything but the essay portion.
The shift to computers is possible because of a restructuring of GED Testing Service into a commercial corporation. The program previously was operated by the American Council on Education (ACE), a nonprofit that represents college presidents and chancellors. It will now be a for-profit joint venture of ACE and Pearson VUE, a commercial testing company that is developing the computer version and has partner testing sites around the country.
The computer-based test will not be available online; it will only be available at testing centers. The four states where computer-based testing will be available first are California, Florida, Georgia and Texas, all states with high demand that were “willing to take on the planning to become pioneers, if you will,” Turner said.
Details are not final on how revenue from GED Testing Service will be distributed between the two principals, but Turner said some of ACE’s share would go toward its GED preparation programs.