FARMINGTON — Starting next January, students can no longer use paper and pencil to earn a GED certificate.

Instead, all testing for the General Educational Development exam, or GED, will be online.

Since 1942, the GED certificate has allowed people who have not graduated high school to earn a high school equivalency diploma. Now, the New Mexico GED testing procedures are undergoing a radical change.

"The GED was created and is owned by the American Council on Education," said Linda Schwinghammer, San Juan College's director of testing. "They now have a contract with the vendor, Pearson Vue, which created a new GED form that is completely computer-based."

The test and all registration procedures for the new GED certificate are available at Although students will complete tests on a computer, the exam will still need to be completed in-person at test sites.

Also in January, the cost of the exam will jump from $40 to $120.

The GED fee increase will likely create a hardship for many county residents, said Michelle Peterson, director of the college's Native American Center.

"The students who receive their GEDs are predominantly Native American, and it's going to be quite expensive. Many can't afford it," she said.


Like the current GED, the new test will be based on common core standards for high school graduate equivalency. But now, the test will consist of four tests instead of five. Schwinghammer said that the current GED test, which measures reading, writing, science, social studies and mathematics skills, is challenging, and the new test will be just as rigorous.

Students currently enrolled in GED testing need to complete the exam by November. English-language GED exams not completed online need to be finished by Nov. 28. The deadline for the Spanish-language GED test is Nov. 7.

Test scores for students who have not completed all testing by the deadlines will not be accepted, and students will need to reapply to retake the test in 2014.

For this reason, Schwinghammer is urging people to complete their series of tests soon. She said that San Juan College plans to create additional testing sessions to accommodate more test-takers.

"Especially people who have already started the testing, we're really encouraging them to come in and finish before 2014," she said.

From 2011 to 2012, the college administered nearly 2,000 GED tests.

Current GED testing is offered at San Juan College's Testing Center several times a month. The college also offers assessments and free non-credit classes in reading, math, writing and English as a Second Language through its Adult Basic Education Program to help people prepare for the GED test.

contact the San Juan College Adult Basic Education Center at 505-566-3270, the testing center at 505-566-3139 or go to

Leigh Black Irvin can be reached at; 505-564-4610. Follow her on Twitter @irvindailytimes.