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Those planning to get their GED will encounter a new generation of computer-based testing with more challenging content if they don't pass the test by Dec. 18.
Taylor County Adult Education Center Director Annette Jefferson said right now, the test is taken on paper and the fee is $60. Through the end of July, the fee will be waived.
Jefferson said she has encountered people who have a negative opinion of the GED test and think there is nothing to it. But she said those who say that haven't taken the test.
"I'll be honest, it's a challenging test," Jefferson said. "Only 60 percent of graduating high school students could pass the GED test."
Jefferson said the average person who comes to the center will have to study for two to three months before they pass all five sections of the GED test, but for some, it takes longer.
Therefore, Jefferson said it's important for those wanting to take the test while it's free to contact the center now.
Though the five-section test that covers math, reading, science, writing and social studies isn't easy, Jefferson said most people studying for the GED are more motivated than they were in high school.
"They're more mature where they're spending time figuring stuff out, where in high school it just wasn't that important. They didn't see the relevance."
Latasha Walker, 20, started coming to the center last fall and said she understands the value of a GED. For Walker, the reason she is trying to get her GED is simple.
"So I can get a good job and take care of my son," she said.
She said she hopes college might even be in her future.
In the last few decades, the dynamics of the economy have changed. Jefferson said a person used to be able to get a good job without a high school diploma. She said many of the older students who come to the center dropped out of high school because of a job opportunity that paid well and didn't require a diploma.
But Jefferson said that has all changed.
"The average person, once they get their GED, just like a high school diploma, makes $10,000 more a year," Jefferson said.
And because the center, which is funded by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, helps an average of 70 people pass the GED test each year, Jefferson said the GED has the potential to add $700,000 to the community.
Though next year the test will be given in a computer lab at Campbellsville University, Jefferson said it is still a proctored test.
"That's one thing we have a lot of confusion about is some folks get on the Internet and they see these bogus sites to get your GED," Jefferson said.
But according to Jefferson, these sites charge hundreds of dollars and it's not an authentic GED.
"It's a worthless piece of paper," Jefferson said.
Jefferson said people come to the center because they want something better for themselves, their future and their families. Some even go on to college after getting their GED.
"My favorite saying is 'the older you get, the smarter you get,'" Jefferson said. "I'm serious as a heart attack because I've found many a person that comes in who says 'I did horrible in math in high school.' Well, what I've found is just through maturity, just living life, you just understand how things work, it just clicks better for you."
In this fiscal year, which ends June 30, the center has helped 54 people get their GED, and Jefferson expects that number to rise. But she said she is worried that the changes to the GED test next year may be a deal breaker for some and could cut the number of adults who come to the center in half.
"The price is going up from $60 to $120," Jefferson said. "And I'll be honest, that's got me greatly concerned because a lot of our folks are unemployed or underemployed."
Those who have already taken the test and passed some sections will have to start over if they don't pass all four sections by Dec. 18.
Jefferson said she knows the impact the center, ranked 11 of the Top 25 adult education programs in the state, has on the community, and she hopes that despite the changes, the success there will continue.
"I mean, we've had several young ladies in the community who have gone off public assistance," Jefferson said. "They've gotten their GED, they've gotten a job."
Those interested in taking the GED or enrolling in free classes cab call the center at 465-7736.