History of the GED Tests
To date, there have been four generations of GED Tests; the original
GED Tests released in 1942, the 1978 series, the 1988 series, and the
current series released in 2002. While the academic content areas in
which candidates are assessed—English language arts
(literature/reading), social studies, science, and mathematics—have not
changed, the priorities and assumptions by which proficiency in these
areas is assessed have evolved. Since the GED Tests assess academic
skills and knowledge typically developed in a four-year program of high
school education, it is of utmost importance to the GED Testing Service
that the GED Tests continue to evolve as secondary education evolves.
The first generation of tests, developed in 1942, reflected an
industrial era, when a high school education was sufficient for many
jobs. By the time this series was retired in 1977, more than 40 percent
of test-takers took the tests for employment reasons—evidence that this
level of education qualified people for many entry-level positions.
During this period, 37 percent of test-takers indicated plans for
further study. Content knowledge was assessed in a traditional manner.
The English test focused on the correctness and effectiveness of
expression, while success in social studies, science, and literature
depended on interpreting reading material.
By the mid-1970s, the closing cusp of the industrial age, changes in
secondary curricula and public attitudes toward education made necessary
a review of the GED test specifications. As a result, a second
generation of tests was introduced in 1978. This series was
- a shift in emphasis from science and social studies reading
materials to a separate reading test
- a transition away from recall of facts toward application of
conceptual knowledge and evaluation of presented information
These tests retained an emphasis on high school outcomes, but
introduced real-life contexts (such as work or home settings) and
reading materials (schedules, newspaper articles) relevant to adults.
The release of John Naisbitt’s Megatrends in 1982
characterized a heightened awareness worldwide of the shift from an
industrial to an information society—one characterized by a commonplace
use of technology, global awareness, and participatory democracy. As
these changes affected adults, the GED Testing Service initiated a
five-year review that drew on the expertise of professionals from all
sectors of adult education. Again affirming the GED Tests’ academic
content areas, the panel recommended five changes:
- addition of a direct writing sample (essay)
- an increased emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving
- an increased reflection of the diverse roles adults play in
- greater emphasis on understanding the sources of societal change
- an increase in contextual settings relevant to adults
In addition to the changes in the GED Tests, there was also a shift
in candidates’ reasons for taking the tests. More than 65 percent of
candidates said they are taking the tests for entry into postsecondary
education, while 30 percent reported taking the tests for employment
Today, a high school diploma remains the primary ticket to many
entry-level jobs. In many cases, it’s also the prerequisite for
advancement in employment, occupational training, and postsecondary
education. Change is indeed sweeping education and the workplace.
Content standards developed at the national and jurisdictional level
form the basis for the changes that are part of the 2002 Series GED
Tests. A panel of experts representing the core academic disciplines of
English-language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies proposed
these changes. In keeping with the focus on adults who use the GED
credential to gain entry both to the workplace and to postsecondary
education in an information-based society, the panel recommended four
enhancements to the current GED Tests.
CollegeInfo.com Features Top Online Universities and campus-based colleges in your area. Enroll today.Online MBA Programs allow you to earn your MBA from home. Find CollegeInfo.com.Start Earning Your Online Business Degree. Find business administration degree programs at CollegeInfo.com.Searching For The Best Pharmacy Schools? Find pharmacy degree programs at CollegeInfo.com.