Adult Ed

  Class preparation   Life skills   Time to study   GED exam

Class preparation

If you want to get the most out of your classes, you need to prepare; if your time is limited, try to look at your notes from the last class. (I hope you have learned how to jot down the essentials.)
If your teacher assigned words for you to define, take them and a pocket dictionary to work with you. Be sure you write everything down and keep a running list of new words and terms. The back of your notebook is a handy place to keep that list. Look at it every chance you get.

It is amazing how much you can accomplish devoting as little as two or three minutes of a precious lunch hour, or baby’s nap time, to completing a homework task. Doing a wee bit every day becomes a good learning practice. Be sure to READ EVERY DAY.

Come to class prepared

Be sure to bring a small notebook and pen or pencil with you to class for writing down important phone numbers: your teacher's, some classmates', your child's school if you are a parent or guardian, and a number at your class site where you can be reached in an emergency.

You should write down all assignments in that little notebook including due dates. Do not leave anything to memory. If you are absent, you will have the number of a classmate to call so you can get the assignment in advance of the class. This is mandatory if you are planning to go to any kind of training program or college. You might as well start now to make writing everything down a habit. This is your responsibility, not your teacher's.

Bring a lined notebook for taking notes in class. If you do not know how to jot things down, sit next to someone who does and you will begin to get the gist of it. Your teacher will always be there to help you begin to organize your notes so they can be useful to you for study at home. Remember to separate different subjects within that notebook and to put a date at the top of each class session in your notebook.

If you wear eyeglasses for reading, do not leave them at home. If you need a new pair of glasses, get them. Your learning center can probably refer you to a place where you can get your eyes tested and glasses for minimal cost.

Public library

Get a public library card and use library resources. Most libraries have the GED Connection tapes for loan and many other excellent materials, which can supplement whatever is recommended in your GED class.


You need to own a dictionary. Bring this precious resource to class and to have it close by when you are completing homework assignments. The dictionary will help enormously with your understanding of unfamiliar words, as well as with spelling and pronunciation. Some dictionaries use more formal language than others do. You will know which dictionary is right for you when you find one that is at your reading level and are comfortable with the way the definitions are written.

The following dictionaries are suggestions: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, college edition, in paperback and Longman Dictionary of American English, paperback (for lower level learners). Your teacher will have other titles to offer as well. You can always go to Barnes and Noble or another large bookstore to check for yourself. You can shop for a dictionary on line as well.

Life Skills

Please read the Life Skills tips for teachers; they are written for you as well.

The Southern Poverty Law Center runs It is an excellent way to check on topics pertaining to race, religion and controversial subjects. It is an important site for teaching tolerance and is considered to be the leading anti-bias voice online.

Keeping copies of your important documents is crucial. Some people have safe deposit boxes in banks, which are costly, but safe and fireproof. Others rely on a box or envelope where important papers are stored at home. Create a method that works for you and set aside time every month or so to file important documents.

Some documents to make copies of and file in a safe place include:
  • records of your credit card number, passport, driver's license, non-driver's ID, or any other kind of ID, medical record, pay stubs.
  • any transactions you make, including applications to take the GED test and correspondence concerning your phone or utilities bills.
  • receipts for rent and purchases.
  • copies of your GED results if you need to retake the test or any part of it. We know you will keep your GED diploma; it should be framed and displayed with pride because it is a great accomplishment!
VCR Problems

Student sometimes complain that they are unable to tape the GED Connection programs because their VCR's are broken. They might live alone and have no one to take a look to see if there is really something wrong with their machine.

Here are some suggestions that can help you pinpoint and correct some common, minor video difficulties. (Taken from "Troubleshooting VCR Problems," National Teacher Training Institute.)
  • VCR power light does not come on: check to see if the cord is plugged into a working outlet. Try another outlet, just to be sure. Is the record/timer switch on? Try moving the switch to OFF. Is the machine's fuse blown? Replace fuse with a new one.
  • Videocassette cannot be inserted into the machine: is the VCR empty? Are you holding the cassette properly? Press eject button in case there is still a video in the machine. Make sure the side with the "arrow" faces into the machine when you insert a videotape.
  • Picture has excessive static: are the tape guides, rollers or heads dirty? Clean the VCR head with special cleaner. (Read the directions carefully.) Or, you may want to buy a videocassette head cleaner. Turn your machine on, insert as you would a regular videotape, it will run for about 30 seconds and yours heads will be clean.

Visually Impaired
If you or any of your family are visually impaired, the Computer Center at Baruch College, School of Continuing and Professional Studies has a first rate educational program. For more information, call 646 312-1420 or visit The Center has a monthly Open House, on the first Wednesday of each month (except holidays) from 1:30-p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Buyer Beware

Just to let you know, the spam/scam offer of a university degree - for a price - is still out there. Note this new addition on the website: "no required tests, no classes!, no books." Warn your students that tempting though it may seem, to get through school, they have to earn their academic degrees from legitimate institutions. There is no shortcut. They need to study, prepare, and get passing grades, course by course.

This warning is especially appropriate when you are surfing the net or receiving messages from unknown sources offering you diplomas or GED credits for no work, just money. Be as careful as you are when you are in the supermarket or department store. Do I want the product? Is it reasonable for someone to be offering me something academic that I haven't earned for a specific price? is a for profit essay writing mill where you can buy someone else's work and call it your own. It is not a free service. I like to call it plagiarism for a price. Plagiarism is using the words or ideas of someone else and claiming them as yours.

Your way of expressing yourself in writing is as special and individualistic as you are. You should claim it and improve it.

Furthermore, high schools and colleges can now catch a student who hands in internet purchased essays, term papers and the like by joining a special website called Through a licensing arrangement available to schools, colleges and universities, anything taken from the internet can be traced.

Work on your own writing, learn how to give credit to authors when you quote them, and ask your teachers and professors for help when you need it.

Addressing an envelope

Here is the model you should follow when you address an envelope to be absolutely certain that it will reach its destination:

  1. Name and title of recipient
  2. Name of department or subgroup
  3. Name of organization
  4. Name of building if there is one
  5. Street address and suite number, or post office box number
  6. City, state or province (include entire zip code here)
  7. Name of country if the letter is being sent abroad


  Our students lead very busy lives. Finding time to study and prepare for classes is always difficult. Apartments are often small. Many of them share their space with teenagers or relatives; it can be noisy. I have talked before about going to the library or to class early to find some quiet time.

Try finding a "study buddy", someone from your class, a friend or a neighbor with whom you can exchange ideas, try out your written assignments, and practice your math.

Two of my distance learning students also take a Saturday morning class.
They sit together and go over homework at a nearby coffee shop. They tell me that learning this way is fun!

I never have time in the day to study.

Never be without something to read. In and around your work and home and school obligations, there is lots of opportunity to open a book or quality newspaper. When you are waiting for the train or bus and when you are on public transportation, you can read. If you are sitting in the waiting room of your doctor or dentist, you can be reading. The material can be related to your class assignments or a novel or biography from the public library. The essential here is for you to get into a habit that will help you with your studies and become a lifetime source of satisfaction. The more you read, the more you will know.

My GED students often complain that they have so little time to study or to read. They get up early, have family responsibilities, and work long hours with few breaks. If you fit this description, here's a suggestion. There is always time to read when you are waiting in line at the bank, waiting in line at the supermarket, waiting for the bus or subway. And there is time when you travel by bus or subway to and from work. Novels and short stories are wonderful ways to improve your reading and give so much pleasure. If you are more devoted to your GED books, take one along with you; if it is too heavy, make some photo copies of chapters. Leave the romance novels and mail order catalogs aside until you get your GED. By then you will be hooked on the joys of good reading and will never leave home without a "good read" in your backpack.

If you have small children and are the at home parent, try opening your books when they are napping. If they don't sleep in the day, try to carve out a few minutes in the evening. You can study at the Laundromat while clothes are in the dryer.

If you travel to and from work by bus or subway, you can read, standing or sitting. Some students cannot concentrate with all of the surrounding noise and conversations. Try listening to quiet music. Headphones are very good for blocking that outside interference. If you find your GED book too heavy, make copies of the chapter you are working on for ease while travelling. A highlighter is handy for marking important passages.

Your children can be great assets to you when it comes to math. Often they are learning what you now need to relearn after so many years away from school and can work with you. Or, if you have a child who needs help, you work together (and learn together). If you don't have children, find someone at work who is willing to act as a peer coach during a break or at lunchtime. People form study groups through their churches or social clubs. There is help out there, you need to look for it.

When you are taking GED practice tests, ask the kids to watch a sibling so you can study without interruption. Disconnect the phone if necessary so that you can try to simulate a test environment. Do not have the TV on when you take practice tests! If you have a spouse or partner, ask them to take on some of your chores from time to time. Your pursuit of more education is a family affair!

Kids are introduced to calculators from the early grades and on up. If you do not use one go to your kids or family members for help. They are so proud when they can show you something.

When you read to small children, ask them questions. What is the book about? Who is the main character? If you are reading Charlotte's Web, is it Charlotte or Wilbur? Why? Is it sad or happy or both? When you practice with the young, you are learning how to ask the same kinds of questions when you read fiction. (GED Reading Test). When you help your kids with map assignments, you are helping yourself as well (GED Social Studies Test).

When you go to the library, remember that it is a quiet place. If your home is too noisy or lacking in privacy, plan to spend more time at the library.

GED exam

The Casio FX-260 Solar Fraction calculator will be loaned to all taking the GED exam for use in Part I of the Mathematics section.

Students should be encouraged to buy their own calculator and not rely on practice during class time. It is important to use that exact model, so they are comfortable with it. The FX-260 is small; the buttons are close together. Use a pencil eraser instead of a finger to avoid hitting the wrong button.

The calculator is only as good as the person using it. Estimating in advance can help to avoid careless errors, such as putting in too many zeros or the decimal point in the wrong place.

We have talked before about the importance of writing letters in order to improve your skills. Having a pen pal is a very special kind of letter writing. You might be able to find someone with whom to correspond through a friend or relative or through a class project. You can learn a great deal about other parts of the US or another country by having a pen pal. It will give you another interesting opportunity to write. You may even make a friend for life.

If you are a parent of small children, you need to make fool proof baby sitting arrangements well in advance of your test dates. This might mean having a back up person who can fill in if your first choice of sitter does not work out at the last minute. You want to know that your children are with someone responsible, leaving you free to focus on the test without any outside anxiety.

Keep the focus on studying no matter how many times you need to re-take the GED test. Some folks have to re-take only one subject but that requires as much time, energy and motivation as preparing for the entire exam. Most adult students are extremely busy, but they need to find quality time to study. Here are a few reminders to keep you on task: 1) Keep personal phone calls to a minimum; 2) Go to bed a bit later and get up earlier; 3) Take a break from regular TV watching and hanging out with friends until you have re-taken your test; 4) Keep study notes with you at all times so you can review them while traveling to and from work.

I am hearing from a number of good students that they are not finishing their tests in time, yet this has not been an issue when they have been in class or done practice tests.

Test environments can be noisy and being timed by a proctor can be intimidating. The following pointers might get you moving a bit faster:

You have enough time to take a deep breath or two, exhale slowly and then begin. Flip through the entire test to see what lies ahead so you can organize your time. Do not linger on a math problem or reading paragraph. It is better to keep going and come back to that difficult question at the end, if you still have time. If not, it is better to make an quick but educated guess so you will be able to finish the whole test. Your chances of getting a higher score are greater if you finish everything. A good little exercise you can practice at home is to go through tests in your GED book and pick an arbitrary time limit for each question, let's say a minute and a half. As soon as that bit of time is up, move on to the next one, even if you have not finished. Get used to the notion of time limits and moving on. You will be pleased with the results.

Ways to improve your writing skills Pick any one of the following topics and write for ten to twenty minutes on the computer. These topics are merely suggestions, but you can write about anything that is of personal interest to you. The below writing leads are encouraging you tell a story. Here are some topics:

Write about:
  • A law that you think is unfair.
  • A conversation that you had recently that bothered you.
  • An event that may have changed the course of your life.
  • The recent actions or behavior of a friend or family member.
  • Something beautiful you have seen recently.
  • A time you felt ostracized (or excluded/banished from a group).
  • Your feelings about the place in which you are currently living.
  • A mysterious or spiritual experience you had.
  • A pet peeve (something that annoys or irritates you, (e. g -people who do not pick up after their dogs, leaving the streets dirty or people talking on their cell phones on public transit or people talking during a movie or make up your own).
  • One thing in the world you would most like to change, and why.
  • One thing about yourself you would most like to change, and why.
I am interested in what makes the student who had areas of difficulty, e.g. math phobia, able to take the test for the first time and do really well. The consensus is very simple: Be very well prepared and how do you do that? PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

To verify credentials of adult education and/or training programs in New York City, call the following:
  • State Education Department to verify accreditation of an educational program.
  • Better Business Bureau (212)533-6200
  • Greater New York Chamber of Commerce (212)686-7220
  • Mayor's Office of Consumer Affairs 212) 487-4444 to find out if the school you are checking on has a consumer license from NYC, or if complaints have been made against this organization.
  • Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York (212) 416-8300 if you suspect fraud.
Get to know the directions for each test in advance of the actual test so you can get start answering the questions without losing time. If you are used to the old format, you will notice that the directions for GED 2002 are on the back of each booklet.

The math test is given in two parts; you will have use of a calculator for part one only. You will need to know how to use an alternate grid since some of the answers have to be placed on the grid provided instead of the bubble in answer.
Survival kit for the test taker should include the following: required ID, two number two pencils, a pen, and a drink and snack.

Go to the GED test prepared

You do not want to be that person who goes into the GED test, having forgotten to take your eyeglasses or wearing glasses that give you a headache.

Directions to the test should be known way in advance so you can do a trial run to be sure you know what transportation to use and how long to allow for getting there (including extra time in case of delays).

Find out exactly how to get to the test site by public transportation or by car. Give yourself plenty of time to get there. It is not a bad idea to try going there in advance of taking the test if you are uncertain of your directions. If you are in an unfamiliar neighborhood and taking an evening test, perhaps a family member will be willing to come and pick you up. Or, you will probably be able to walk to the nearest subway or bus stop with others taking the test with you.

Be sure you wear a wristwatch so you can time yourself. Do not wait for the proctor to tell you, "time's up." You need to be in control. If you do not have a watch, borrow one!

All of the above tips are intended to help you be as relaxed and ready as you can be when you sit down to take that exam.

Visual components in the new GED test

GED teachers should be preparing students to answer questions on the current test based on data presented on maps and different kinds of graphs. There is more of that in the current GED exam. The increased influence of the Internet, as well as more reliance on graphic information requires increased visual acuity.

We have been told that 10% of the new language arts test consists of pictures and movie stills. There will be plenty of visual material presented in the social studies, math and science tests. You can continue to introduce your students to good up-to-date maps. (Consult a large current atlas and National Geographic for starters.) The business section of any major newspaper is usually replete with bar graphs, circle graphs, and statistical tables. Don't forget that political cartoons are often included in the Social Studies test. Encourage your class to bring in samples of political cartoons from the local newspapers so they will know what to look for and the meaning of symbols. For example, the US is often portrayed as Uncle Sam or an eagle. Many math workbooks help students create their own bar graphs, tables and flow charts. The GED books have plenty of examples, too.