The test's largest overhaul in its 70-year-history will make it more difficult to pass in response to growing criticism that the exam has failed to offer a second chance for 39 million adult Americans without a high school diploma, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
"If we are not going to give them a chance to better their lives, we are giving them false hope," said CT Turner, a spokesman for the GED Testing Service. "We are assigning them to a dead-end job."
He said the new test has to be a "steppingstone" to college, mirroring what it was originally created to do for returning World War II veterans who wanted to take advantage of the GI Bill.
A 2011 study by the GED Testing Service found that 60 percent of test-takers planned to go to college, though just 43 percent enrolled. Of those who enrolled in a post-secondary education, about one third dropped out after one semester and only 12 percent graduated.
Without further education, the GED offers very little economic payoff for the test-takers, said Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman.