To keep up with modern times, the General Educational Development test is getting its first overhaul since 1988.
The makeover means people who have passed portions of the five-part test must start over if they don't finish up soon.
The existing tests were released in 1988 and the world has changed since then, said Dottie Davis, chief GED examiner for Southeast Alaska. The new tests, which debut in January, will reflect changes in science, geography and approached to education, she said.
"The new tests are not going to be any more difficult than the current tests. They're just going to be different," Davis said.
In Juneau, students working on the five current tests needed to get a GED certificate must take them by Nov. 15, said Davis, who works at the Juneau Adult Education Center, part of the South East Regional Resource Center. She said those who need to retake a test will then have until Dec. 14 to complete their work.
Davis said those who haven't started on the current tests should study for the new ones.
"My advice would be to start preparing for the new tests and just wait until January to start the new testing, just to avoid putting themselves under the pressure cooker of the deadlines," she said today.
Before taking the GED tests, students have to take an assessment test and practice tests, Davis said. Those who need extra work can take classes at the education center.
"It is a process and it's not always a fast process," she said.
The test, also called the General Equivalency Degree, covers writing skills, social studies, science, literature and math. It takes seven hours to do the whole thing not counting breaks. Almost everyone tries to do it in chunks, said James Cronin, chief GED examiner at the University of Alaska Anchorage Adult Learning Center.
The new GED will be more "with the times," said Joyce Middleton, a test administrator at Nine Star, a private firm that gives the tests in Anchorage.
For example, there will be more modern questions on social studies and history. The social studies test will use at least one "practical" document, like a voter's guide or tax form.
"Test takers will be allowed to use a calculator on one math section. Language arts and reading tests will draw writing samples from various cultures and time periods. The writing skills test will include business communications such as memos and reports. Science will see an added focus on environmental and health issues such as recycling and pollution.
In Juneau, more information is available from the adult education center, 586-5718.
Empire writer Ed Schoenfeld contributed to this article.