TAMPA — Major changes are coming to the test taken each year by thousands of Florida students hoping to get the equivalent of a high school diploma.
Starting Jan. 2, the new GED test will be offered only on the computer and will be nearly twice as expensive as the current one — $130 compared to $70.
The new test will be aligned to the Common Core State Standards, a set of academic benchmarks being implemented in Florida schools.
Additionally, anyone who has started but not passed all of the five-subject exam — which covers writing, math, reading, science and social studies — must do so before the end of the year. Partial scores will not be carried over to the new test.
“You have to get in,” said Debbie Sass, the Hillsborough school district’s chief GED examiner. “If not, your scores will no longer be valid in January.”
This is the first time for the high school equivalency exam to get a makeover since 2002.
The new exam will be broken into four subjects instead of five — language arts, math, science and social studies.
The paper test, taken over three days, will be offered for the last time Dec. 16-18. The last day to take the current computer-based test is Dec. 19.
The school district has already seen an influx of test-takers this school year in a rush to beat the deadline.
In October, the district gave the test to more than 1,200 people, about four times as many as took the test the previous October, according to district officials.
At least three times as many test-takers in Hillsborough ask to take the GED on the computer instead of with pencil and paper, Sass said. Just this week, 385 students took the test on the computer compared to 67 on paper. Not all are local test-takers, Sass said.
“We’re getting a lot from Pasco and Polk,” she said. “We had some come up from Miami to take the computer test. I think a lot of people are running out of availability.”
Hillsborough is expanding the number of seats in the Learey Technical Center, the only place in the county where students can take the GED on the computer, to accommodate the high demand. The center has 21 computer stations for test-takers. Sass plans to open 10 more stations.
“We are just hoping we can accommodate everyone who needs to test,” Sass said.
Hillsborough offers the paper test at Lennard High, Plant City High and the Aparicio-Levy Technical Center.
To register for the computer exam, test-takers can go gedtestingservice.com. To register to take it with pencil and paper, visit the Learey Technical Center, 5410 N. 20th St. between 2:30 and 5 p.m. on Thursdays.
Testing centers will be closed next week, but testing will resume Dec. 2.