Is the GED test too hard now?

The GED, the test that substitutes for a high school diploma, isn’t what it used to be, NPR reported this morning. And for many people, that’s the problem.

In about a dozen states every state, the old GED was replaced with a tougher one. And in many states, the pencil-and-paper version was shifted to a computer. It was the first overhaul in the test in the United States since 2002.

Cleveland Scene reported that about about 300,000 fewer Americans will pass the GED.

The problems are myriad. Many think this test is too hard, too focused on algebra and essays, too much analysis of history instead of knowing historical facts. But the main issue is: Who is the GED test for and what should it measure? Should it be geared toward determining if someone has the skills to make it in college, or the skills necessary to be employed and to move up to a better job? The GED has always struggled with servicing both groups; but right now, most GED test teachers feel the test has moved too far into measuring college preparedness.

“Raising the standards was an important thing to do, but without adequate teacher training and a significant investment in current technology, it left adult and correctional education students even further behind in educational achievement,” says Stephen J. Steurer, executive director of the Correctional Education Association, the largest prison educational organization in the country. “It is a national tragedy that will continue to have repercussions for years.”

The old test was about 25 percent algebra; the new one is more than half algebra.

What sort of challenge is the test now? Here are some sample questions via the GED testing service.

Question 1: The government of a country may restrict the number of immigrants allowed to enter that country. These restrictions on immigration are most likely based on what belief?

An economy can support unlimited numbers of people.
The “push” factors justify most immigration.
Immigrants enrich the culture of a country.
A country has a limited number of jobs and services.
A government should not interfere with the migration of people.

Question 2: Based on the information, which is an opinion rather than a fact about immigrants to North America? Immigrants…

traveled long distances to find a better life
migrated to find employment
learned to live in a foreign culture
escaped from political persecution
found a better life

Question 3: Clay soil forms a fairly effective barrier against the movements of water. It also swells and shrinks significantly as its water content changes. Sandy soil, in contrast, allows water to move freely and does not change shape as the water content varies. In which statement is the appropriate soil selected for its intended site?

Sandy soil would make a good lining for a toxic waste site.
Clay soil would work well in a drain field.
Clay soil would be a good foundation for a large building.
Clay soil would form a good liner if a person built a pond.
A sandy lake bottom would prevent water from seeping out of the lake.

Question 4: A cook decides to recover some table salt that has been completely dissolved in water. Which of the following processes would be the most effective method of extracting salt from the solution?

spinning the solution in a mixer
boiling away the water
pouring the solution through cloth
dripping the solution through a paper filter
bubbling oxygen through the solution

Question 5: Last month, the balance in Tisha’s checkbook was $1219.17. Since then she has deposited her latest paycheck of $2425.66 and written checks for $850.00 (rent), $235.89 (car payment), and $418.37 (credit card payment).
What is the current balance in Tisha’s checking account?


Question 6: Byron purchased a $5,000 certificate of deposit (CD) at his local bank. The CD will pay him 7% simple interest. How much INTEREST, in dollars, will Byron have earned from his CD at the end of a 2-year period?

Find the answers here.