Nicole Chestang, executive vice president at GED Testing Service, said the rush was expected. In 2001, the year before the last upgrade, there was a 30 percent increase in test takers, most toward the end of the year, she said.
She advised people to register for the exam now, even if they don’t take it until later in November or December.
Some critics have challenged the price increases and the mandate that test takers use a computer — issues that affect many people living in poverty.
This is the first upgrade since for-profit Pearson Vue Testing acquired a joint ownership interest in the GED Testing Service. For 70 years, GED Testing Service has been run by the nonprofit American Council on Education.
GED exam officials have said the changes will modernize the test and align it with new college and career-ready standards adopted in a majority of states. They say basic computer skills are needed in a modern workplace — even to apply for jobs at places like retail stores and fast-food chains. On a recent test given to adults worldwide of workplace skills including math, reading and problem-solving using technology, American adults scored below the international average.
The test also will allow people to receive their scores the same day, rather than having to wait a month or more.
Frustrated with the changes, some states have opted instead to begin using other high school equivalency exams. One is Wyoming, which has adopted the additional use of two other tests.
Jim Rose, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission, said officials are exploring whether students who have passed sections of the GED can apply that toward passing one of the other high school equivalency exams.
“Our centers are really committed to trying to make this something that is workable for students instead of a kind of high-stakes, winner-take-all game in which if you don’t complete by December, then you’ve got to begin again, and that’s going to create a hardship for students,” Rose said.
In Washington, D.C., Antoinette Mitchell, a deputy assistant superintendent of education, says she feels some urgency. “We are trying in numerous ways to get the word out to get them to come back,” she said.