As the GED exam goes all-digital, new alternatives have emerged to give adult students more choices


A number of states have opted out of the new GED test with the emergence of two competing exams.

The creator of the General Educational Development test, long the measure of high school equivalency for dropouts, has unveiled a revamped computer-only exam that has spurred competition from two other test providers—letting students decide which format they prefer.

The new version of the 71-year-old GED, which debuted in December, for the first time does away with pencil-to-paper test sheets. The exam is also meant to be more rigorous and places a greater focus on job readiness than high school equivalency. It will evaluate “career and college-readiness skills” with fewer multiple-choice questions and more content-based answers.

But a number of states have opted out of the new GED test amid the emergence of two competing exams that offer students an alternative.

States that have decided against administering the new exam have cited cost and accessibility concerns with the elimination of the pencil-to-paper test. Nine states—Iowa, Montana, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, West Virginia, New York, Missouri, and New Hampshire—have dropped the GED exam and now will offer other tests. Some states will offer several options, including the GED exam, and others will decide in the coming months.

California is currently offering the test, but the state is expected in March to begin considering whether to offer solely the updated GED exam, another test, or a slate of exams going forward, said Diane Hernandez of the California Department of Education.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school system in the nation, will not provide the GED exam this year and will await California’s decision, state officials said.

About 50 testing centers offering the new exam are open across the state, with seven of those in the Los Angeles area, said C.T. Turner, a spokesman for GED Testing Service, the organization that offers the exam. About 40 other test centers are awaiting approval by the state, Turner said.

(Next page: More information about the new GED format—and the two new GED competitors)