HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For adults who didn't graduate high school, getting a GED can open the door to new job opportunities. It proves to employers that an applicant can think critically and solve problems- skills many employers actively seek when shopping around the job market. But there are some changes to the GED test that adults should know about before diving in.
Instructors recently adjusted all the material and how they teach, because everything was based on a much older version of the GED test. The classroom instruction and practice tests are now based on the Common Core standards.
That's where the Horry County Adult Education Center can help. The director of adult education says that even though South Carolina no longer follows Common Core for K- 12, what the instructors follow now, is fairly similar, and it all works to deepen adult students' understanding and ability to think critically.
"For our older learners, we had to let them use their life experiences," explained Etta Greene Carter, HCS Director of Adult Education. "Because we use our reasoning ability every day, whether we realize it or not. So helping them to make connections to the things that they do in their everyday life. And the reasoning that we had to be successful in the GED, was a part of what we had to do."
All of the services through the adult education center are free. The GED test itself costs $150, but if you plan to use the center's services, it will pay for the test. Plus, the instructors who will be helping along the way are licensed teachers.
The GED is made up of four parts: Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. You can take the test in pieces, so once you know you're ready and confident in one subject, you can take that part of the test, then work to prepare for the next one.
Two years ago, 99 people went through the program and got their GED. Last year, the number was only about 30. Green Carter said the huge dip is largely based on the fluctuating economy.
When jobs are not available, a lot of people go back to school in hopes of distinguishing themselves for the few competitive jobs up for grabs. When the economy is doing good and there are plenty of jobs, not many people are concerned about getting a GED.
Even though the economy is looking alright heading into 2016, anything can change, so Green Carter said buckling down now to get a GED can only help job-seekers.
And why stop there? The center can also help give you a jumpstart to college.
"We work closely with SC Works and HGTC to get students ready for programs there," Green Carter said. "We also have some continued ed. courses they can take through adult education while they're working on their GED."
The center also has a "transition specialist" who works with students to help them apply for jobs, create resumes, and practice mock interviews. They want to make sure that when students leave their adult education setting, they are fully prepared for the work world or college.
You can register for the GED prep classes every Monday at 8am and 5pm at the center, or by visiting www.ged.com.
And if kids are holding anyone back from going to the center for help, the center offers childcare programs for free. For those unsure of whether they're ready to take the test immediately, they can take a practice test for free at the center or online for $6. That'll show if it would be a good idea to pay and pass or if a student needs a little more help preparing ahead of time.
South Carolina just recently approved a second test option equivalent to a high school diploma. So this Spring, TASC test will be available to students, which will have the same high school equivalent as the GED.
Think of the TASC test as a new test option like how it works in high school, where students have the option to take the SAT or the ACT.
Depending on strategy and or what subjects a student is better at may sway them to opt for the GED or TASC, but both will be accepted as valid college entrance exams.
The perk on the TSAC test is that it is a paper-and-pencil version of the test, whereas the GED test is all online, which can add an extra level of anxiety for older students.