GED diploma can expand earning potential
WILLMAR — People who didn't graduate from high school earn about $200 less a week and have higher unemployment numbers than their peers with diplomas.
The information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics could offer a good incentive for people to study for a GED diploma. Laura Morales, coordinator of the Adult Basic Education program in Willmar, presented information Thursday at the Willmar Public Library about getting a GED diploma.
Morales spoke to a group of about 15 people, a mix of those interested in pursuing a diploma themselves and people gathering information for loved ones.
The area has programs that can offer assistance, including Adult Basic Education, Morales said, and GED.com offers a wealth of free information, including some brief practice tests.
It's possible for people to use GED.com and go through the entire process on their own. However, Adult Basic Education can offer some advantages, Morales said. ABE is part of Willmar Community Education.
Instructors can help students develop a study plan and offer advice on how to approach each test. The program has class hours at Ridgewater four mornings a week, with Thursday mornings devoted to math. Evening classes meet at Jefferson Learning Center. Online learning resources are also available.
The GED test includes separate exams in four subject areas — math, science, language arts and social studies. Reading comprehension makes up an important part of each test.
The language arts section includes an 300- to 500-word essay. "Practice typing beforehand," she said. "The faster and more accurate you type, the better your essay will turn out."
The timed tests are administered at a testing center at Ridgewater College. Each of the four tests costs $30. Students working with Adult Basic Education can receive a $10 discount on each test.
All tests are given on computer and have a lot of variety. Some answers are multiple choice. In others, students drag-and-drop answers or choose from drop-down menus. Where a calculator is allowed, one is made available on screen during the test. The math test provides a formula sheet.
Morales said she often suggests students work on one test at a time. Take on the task in "bite-sized chunks" starting with a student's strongest subject, she said, building confidence and momentum.
The GED Ready practice test is available at a cost of $6 per subject. Students may receive scholarships from Adult Basic Education to help pay for them, she said.
The practice tests, about half the length of the official test, tell students whether they are likely to pass the official test and suggest areas where they need more study.
Morales said she's often asked if getting a GED diploma is harder than high school. It's designed to be the equivalent of high school, she said, "so it is a difficult test." However, "students are passing it," she added.
Students who are interested in the program can register at Jefferson Learning Center, 1234 Kandiyohi Avenue S.W. or at Ridgewater College. The Public Library has resources available online to anyone with a library card, and Central Minnesota Jobs and Training may offer a stipend to people 24 and younger who are studying for their GED diploma.