The last time the General Educational Development test was rewritten, the New Kids on the Block had a hit album, John DiBiaggio was the president of MSU and the Berlin Wall was still standing.
Like music and history, high school education has changed, and come Jan. 1, so will the GED diploma equivalency test.
The high school curriculum is not the same as it was in 1988, said Lyn Schaefer, director of test development for GED testing service. Change is hard, but we had to hold our reputation as a viable testing source.
Schaefer said the test changes are meant to reflect the changes in high school curriculums.
The test is set to include more visual images, familiar concepts and heightened standards for the essay portion of the test.
Test-takers also will be required to use a provided scientific calculator for a portion of the math test.
The big fear is that the test is going to be harder, Schaefer said. Its not going to be harder - just different.
But others see flaws in the tests new look.
While the test requires seven and a half hours to complete, many people take each of the tests five portions on different dates. If each of the tests are not completed by Jan. 1, test-takers will have to start all over again.
A near record of more than 860,000 people took all five portions of the test in 2000, and around 60 percent received passing scores.
Greg Shook, principal of Hasletts Meridian High School, said he is worried test dates will be full before an influx of last-minute test-takers can finish.
Some of these people really struggled in school anyway, he said. My concern is that some of the adults have been out of high school for 20 years. Its going to be hard to go back and pass a test that is going to be that different.
Shook said while he is encouraging test candidates to finish up this summer, he still worries not everyone will hear about the change in time.
All 150 of Michigans testing centers are being advised not to allow many new test-takers to begin after September.
I think this is going to change adult education as we know it, Shook said. I think there are going to be a lot of people out of the loop, but after age 20, they dont have another option.
In Michigan, posters, radio announcements and slides in movie theater previews have reminded people of the GED change.
William King, state administrator for GED testing, said he is expecting hundreds of people to finish before Dec. 31, but also believes employers and colleges will be happy a new exam covers more current material.
The exam is being updated to reflect more high school graduation requirements and what our employers are looking for in a high school equivalent, he said.
But MSU officials arent expecting to see many more GED students applying to the university, despite the high numbers of finished tests.
Associate admissions director Tom Hoiles said around three freshmen enter with a GED every year, as well as a slightly larger number of transfer students.
Its not like we have a big sign that says No GED folks allowed, he said. Their perception may be that they wont be admissible anyhow.