COLUMBIA - This is the last year to take the GED test for $40 before the price jumps to $140 next year in Missouri. In addition to the cost increase, the new test will be more difficult and will be a completely computer-based test. This is the first time since 2002 the test will change.
The GED test gives adults who did not graduate high school the opportunity to get a Missouri High School Equivalency Certificate.
The test is divided in to five sections: reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Scores for partially completed tests will be thrown out at the end of the year.
Missouri is not bound to keeping the GED test forever. Christi Phillips, coordinator of Columbia's Adult Education and Literacy Program said the state is now accepting bids from other test services.
Phillips said the Columbia Area Career Center's GED program currently has about 400 students. Regardless of which test Missouri will choose for next year, Phillips said she knows it will mean big changes for the career center.
She said one of the biggest changes will be the switch from pencil and paper exams to exams done solely on a computer. This will also mean teaching a whole new set of skills to students preparing for the GED.
"Right now our funding isn't tied to teaching those computer skills. So while it's going to be a necessary part of getting them their GED it's also something we're not funded for right now. So it's going to be a big change all over the state on how we allocate our resources," Phillips said.
Jean Hall teaches government funded classes at Douglass High School for adults getting their GEDs.
Her advice for those debating if and when to get a GED: "Do it and do it this year. It's going to be more expensive. I would say get in now and get it done."
Like many of Hall's students, Nancy Ballincas has a family and another job.
"The first thing is my family, then my kids, I'm the last person," Ballincas said.
She has been coming to this class whenever she is able to for the past two years.
"The reason why I started coming to school is because when I came to this country that was one of my dreams."
Ballincas came to the U.S. from Mexico City at 14. She now has three kids of her own.
"We only have one opportunity in our lives. I think when you're younger it's better to do it than when you get older. It's very hard to retain what you learn. So if anybody will ask me what would you do if you we're younger, I would say go to school and do something," Ballincas said.
But for some people, the rise in cost may keep them from pursuing their GED.
"I think 40 bucks is a lot for a lot of people. It's something you have to maybe plan for that if you're struggling to make ends meet with paying your bills and with food and with children, it can be a struggle to come up with that $40. So $140 is an even greater jump and a lot of people are really going to have a hard time meeting that," Phillips said.
Ballincas is determined to get her GED this year. Her goal is to take the test March 5.
Armand Diaz with GED Test Services said the new test will be an improvement from the current test. He said the new test will give test-takers instant score reports and more in depth analysis of what their score means. He said this means it will tell you what areas you did well in and what colleges or careers you might consider. If you did poorly in one area,the analysis will tell you strategies for improvement, according to Diaz.