A Day in the life of a GED student

Tuesday, July 15, 2014
This is a sample question from the math portion of the GED practice test.

(Note: I recently got to spend the day in the life of an adult education student from filling out the application to taking a practice test. I got to go through every step persons interested in getting their GED would go though. Although I have a college degree, the idea of taking a test after being out of school for so long was scary. The Arkansas Northeastern College adult education center in Leachville walked me through each step including dealing with test anxiety, planning for the future and what services they provide.)

The first step for persons wanting to obtain their GED is probably the hardest, they have to go into an ANC adult education center or call. Elizabeth Thompson, ANC adult education coordinator, explained that some feel they can't get their GED because they have been out of school for too long, they didn't complete a high enough grade level, they aren't good at a certain subject, they just don't feel they have the time or as in most cases they had a bad school experience.

"We are not like a regular school," Thompson said. "We are here for our students to help them through every step of this process including what they want to do after they get their GED. The GED is for anyone 16 and older. For 16-year-olds they do have to meet certain criteria but for 18 to 118 they can just come in or call us. We will help you get over your fears, that four letter word MATH can be conquered and you can do this."

Once students come in they fill out an application. To do this they will need to bring their identification and social security card. Becca Bowen, with the Leachville Center, explained the application process saying it is just basic information such as name, address, phone number, grade level completed and those kinds of things. She said after the application is filled out the prospective student will sit down for an interview (sounds formal but it's not). The personal interview allows the center staff to know the students goals - college or work - as well as their fears of taking the GED test. Because the Arkansas Northeastern College adult education program is more than just GED classes and testing, they can offer financial aid filing, job skills training, computer skills training, English as a second language, interviewing skills, resume writing, job application help and more.

"We are here to help the unemployed and underemployed as well," Thompson said. "It is our goal to help people gain the skills they need to be successful. We offer our services for free not only to our GED students but to anyone that needs them. Regardless where a person is planning on going to college, we can help them with their financial aid."

So whether a student intends to go to college or go to work, the ANC adult education center can help them map out a plan of action that will help them reach their goals. Once the personal interview is done, it is time to take the first test.

"A lot of people worry about taking the test," Bowen said. "But most find they know more than think they do and are surprised by how well they do. We administer the TABE test."

The TABE or Test of Adult Basic Education allows the staff to identify students' learning gap, the area they need the most work, as well as the student's strong areas. Each ANC adult education instructor takes the TABE as well as the other test, that way they can honestly say they have been in their students shoes and know what they are going through.

Adult Education instructor Sarah Imler explained there are four levels a student is tested on: easy, medium, difficult and advanced. Once the initial TABE is done students take at second test called the TABE survey, which gives in more detail what the student's need areas are.

"We have lesson books with each skill," Imler said. "Students are tested in four areas: language, science, social studies and math. We also use the PACE system and have had a lot of success with that. It is a system that helps us focus in more tightly on a student's needs."

Once a students' learning gaps are identified, there is a couple of options. First if they have scored high enough they can take the GED practice test and then the GED test, which is computerized. The GED is broken down into four individual sections that can be taken separately. The practice test cost $6 per section but if a student goes through the ANC center they can take the practice test for free. The actual GED cost $4 per section. If a student scores high in three of the four areas he or she can take those three tests first, then take the classes to help pass the final section. The second option is take classes first and take all the GED test sections at once.

Imler explained that GED classes are offered during the day as well as at night to allow students to work or attend to their other responsibilities while getting their diploma. Students come in at the most appropriate time of the day or night for them.

"I think in school or society some people are made to feel horrible like they are stupid or dumb but we don't want them to feel that way because they are none of those things," Imler said. "This is all about showing people what they have within themselves and helping them reach their goals. We will walk you through this no matter what you need. Some students need one on one attention while others learn better in a group. Whatever it takes we will help you."

Students should not let the fear of using a computer deter them from taking the GED because the center offers computer skills classes that will help them learn to navigate the test. Students can also use GEDtestingservice.com to take free practice tests, get tips for test taking and more.

Once students have taken their classes and passed the GED they will receive their high school diploma. The GED is in line with the Common Core curriculum that every public school student has to take. Most factories and businesses require their workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent, which means the GED can open up several job opportunities. If students wanted to go to college to obtain a job skill such as LPN, CNA, auto repair, truck driving or many others, they will need their GED.

"Whether it's college, a jobs skill, technical program, work - it doesn't matter, we are here for people," Thompson said. "We want people to know they can do this no matter their age, education level or fears. They can get their high school diploma and we can help."

ANC has adult education centers in several communities. To find one closest call the ANC main campus at 870-762-1020, and to contact the ANC adult education center in Leachville call 870-539-2393.

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