Has anyone checked out the GED lately? GED, for those of you out of the know, stands for Graduate Equivalency Diploma. It used to be the test those who dropped out of high school took for the purpose of getting into college or for getting a job without a college degree. It used to be a pushover as exams go. Not any longer.

Now there are prep manuals for those wanting to bone up before taking this exam. Why the preparation for a test reputed to be a matter of form to pass only? Because now it's an SOB. No, I won't supply the expanded version of this.

If like me in retirement you are looking to do something at least interesting if not consequential, you might want to take a look at the so-called preparation manual (Kaplan GED Test 2015), which has more heft than a college-level dictionary, or even a larger pulpit sized King James Bible -- which I always thought was up-sized to overcome the far-sightedness of many priests and pastors, It's formidable just to look at. Start turning its pages, and you will be even more dazzled, but probably not in an entirely positive way.

I doubt the average male or female high school graduate could pass this exam. I even wonder whether many college grads could. (I even have misgivings about myself.)

This is a truly comprehensive exam that has breadth and width to it. Since across the board comprehensive exams are not given to our high school students before graduation (unlike the international baccalaureate), they have ample time to forget most everything they know before graduation day arrives. (OK, maybe not what they learned in their junior and senior years, if they learned much at all.) The closest we come to testing our students comprehensively is the ACT, which is not universally taken. The scores gotten by the "average student" on this test hardly attest to their intellectual prowess (or the efficacy of high school education, for most).

Anyway, to cut to the chase, the GED now requires real and comprehensive knowledge to pass. Maybe it's being taken mainly by the older adult post-high school student when he or she awakens to the need to move on in life intellectually. In any event it's a challenge. Looking for something to do with your "spare time?" Take it and see where it might take you.

Gary Whitesell,


Nick Schwien is managing editor at The Hays Daily News.