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Panola College in Carthage, Texas, ramps up GED testing

Officials at Panola College in Carthage, Texas, urge hundreds of students to finish their high school equivalency test and buckle down this summer to prepare for it. The GED has been overhauled. The changeover to the new test will occur in January. Students who haven’t passed all portions of the current GED by then will have to start over again.

Panola College offers the test in both English and Spanish and provides free preparatory classes. The college’s testing coordinator Stacy Gee said several hundred students take the test each year at Panola, and most of them haven’t passed all portions of it.

“We’ve got several things going on here," Gee said, who serves as the college's chief examiner. "We want to try to get them to come in and finish whatever test it is they’re lacking so they can get their credential so they don’t have to start over. If you do have to start over, it’s going to cost you about double what it’s costing you now.”

The new GED will cost $135 through Panola College. It will be administered on computer with instant results. Gee said the pencil and paper test will only be given inside prisons or for the French language version. Another change: it’s more difficult. Gee said the new test will align with Common Core standards and measure college readiness. For instance, the current writing test has a subjective opinion essay, but next year’s tests, according to Gee, will have constructed writing responses.

“The new test, from what I understand, there will be two to three informational pages that you'll read and then the essay portion will be taking a position and supporting the position based on what you read," Gee said.

Panola will be offering the test more frequently during the fall semester at locations in Carthage, Center and Marshall. She said many students who take the GED at Panola end up entering college there.