The GED Test: Computer Format vs. Paper Format

Starting in 2014, the GED program no longer offers the paper format to interested candidates. The transition to computerized testing has been a gradual process, but as of May 2014, 40 of 50 states have formally switched to the computer format only. This has caused a few problems in the national GED policy, but overall there are some important benefits to taking the test on a computer instead of on paper.

Test-Taking Efficiency

With the new computer format, test-takers have a wide range of new features on their tests. Rather than having to bring a personal calculator as with the paper format, test-takers now have an on-screen calculator to help them through the Math section. This helps to standardize the test-taking process, so that no student is left at a disadvantage due to the calculator they bring to the test. Besides this, computerized testing also allows for a more efficient test-taking process. GED candidates can more easily select their answers and go back to review or change their selections. The paper format was often problematic for test-takers that insufficiently erased their answers, causing scoring errors.


Another feature that makes the computerized test format more convenient is the scoring. With the computer format of the test, you can know your score almost instantly after you complete your test. The computer will calculate your answers as soon as you have completed the test, and your score is registered online. Instead of waiting weeks or months for your score, the computerized test format removes all suspense from the scoring process.


One of the problems with the paper format of the GED test was the large amount of waste materials created for test-production. Hundreds of thousands of tests needed to be printed on paper and each time the test was changed, hundreds of thousands more needed to be printed all over again. With the computer format, the test is electronically distributed and easily changed between years. Students can each receive a different version of the test with a unique arrangement of questions to reduce the likelihood of cheating at no additional cost to the GED program. Unfortunately, not all the efficiencies of digital testing have been passed on to consumers, and most testing centers still charge the same amount for the computer format of the test. In some cases, the price of testing has actually increased due to the new demands of computer formats.

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