Most of the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts (RLA) exam is multiple-choice, but there is also one “Extended Response” question. This question requires you to write a short essay in response to two passages of text. The passages will present two different viewpoints on a topic. You must read both of the passages and then decide which argument is best supported. Your essay should include evidence from the passages that shows that one of the authors better argues the issue.
Please note that you are not to write about which opinion is correct or which opinion you believe to be true. You are only asked to analyze each passage and support an argument of which passage best supports its claims. You will have 45 minutes total to read the prompt and the viewpoints given, and to draft your essay.
Essay Quick Tips
- Use paragraphs beginning with topic sentences to separate major ideas and to better organize your argument.
- Utilize logical transition words to seamlessly move from one paragraph to the next.
- Use correct spelling and proper grammar.
- Vary your sentence structure and incorporate appropriate, advanced vocabulary words.
- Stay on topic! Produce an outline prior to beginning your essay to organize your thoughts.
Your GED essay will be evaluated across three areas:
- Analysis of Arguments and Use of Evidence.
- Development of Ideas and Organizational Structure.
- Clarity and Command of Standard English Conventions.
The task may seem intimidating, but you more than likely already have these skills! Your essay will receive three scores — one for each of the listed areas.
Since you have 45 minutes, you must make sure to effectively utilize your time; this is best accomplished by practicing essays under the same 45 minute time limit.
Rely upon these timing guidelines as you write your GED essay:
- PLAN — Spend 10 minutes reading the source material and organizing your essay response.
- PRODUCE — Spend 30 minutes writing your (ideally) 5-paragraph essay.
- PROOFREAD — Save 5 minutes for re-reading what you wrote and making necessary changes and improvements.
Remember, since you are typing your essay on the computer screen, proofreading and editing can be done much more quickly than if you were reading over a handwritten essay! Five minutes may not seem like much, but you should be able to read the entire essay over at least once and correct any obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Pro-tip: Don’t start writing until you have every paragraph planned out! Outlining your argument is the best method for producing a coherent and cogent response.
Since the GED RLA extended response is graded by the ACS (Automated Scoring Engine), it is relatively easy to score well if you rely upon a good template from which to organize your essay. Here are a few quick tips regarding clarity to help you score as highly as possible on the GED RLA Extended Response:
Paragraph 1 — Introduction
Start with a 1-sentence general statement regarding the topic. Show that you understand the argument(s) by identifying the topic and its significance, and then presenting a bold and concise thesis statement; this can also be your major claim with regard to the arguments. Consider the following example thesis:
Though the first argument highlights important considerations regarding (the topic of) ________, ultimately the second argument is better supported and more convincing.
Paragraphs 2, 3, and 4 — Body Paragraphs
When you plan your essay, you should devise your thesis (choosing which side you found to be best-supported), and carefully lay out three major reasons why it is best-supported.
Use specific examples to support your point of view. Pull selections from the argument you are stating is best supported, and explain why they are good supporting examples, or why they make valid points of consideration.
Each body paragraph should only focus on one major idea, and the 1–2 selections from the passage that support that idea. Try to keep the paragraphs between 4–6 sentences so that they are succinct, direct, and clear. Avoid excessive wordiness; sometimes more is not better!
Paragraph 5 — Conclusion
In 2–3 sentences, wrap up your thoughts, reiterating the correctness of your thesis (why the argument you chose is better supported), and perhaps leave the reader with an idea of WHY they should give more consideration to the topic. You can also use the conclusion to offer a degree of concession to the other argument, perhaps admitting that there are one or two good qualities to the other argument, before reiterating that the argument you selected is ultimately better supported and more convincing.
Finally, don’t worry about choosing the “wrong” side. It doesn’t matter which side you choose, or which argument you choose to say is better-supported, just be sure that you can quote specific examples from the source texts to support your ideas!
Now, review our sample prompt and practice writing an essay!
GED Essay Prompt >>
|GED Essay Topics|
Below are the instructions as you will see them on the actual GED test. To give yourself some experience with the testing situation, find a quiet place that you can write for 45 minutes. Read the directions, then randomly choose a topic. Do not look through the topics before you choose. This will help you with the testing situation because you are assigned a topic at the test; there is no choice.
Use the Plan for Success below to ensure a good essay. When it's complete, turn it in to me either handwritten or via email. I'll give you feedback and a score according to the GED scoring rubric.
45 minute Plan for Success
Read directions and topic: 3 minutes
Prewriting (freewriting, brainstorming, clustering or mapping, etc.): 5 minutes
Organize (write a thesis statement or controlling idea and outline main ideas): 3 minutes
Draft (write the essay): 20 minutes
Revise (read through the essay and make changes to ideas): 8 minutes
Edit (check for correctness in grammar and spelling): 6 minutes
GED Essay Testing Simulation
Essay Directions and Topic
Look at the box on the following page. In the box are your assigned topic and the letter of that topic. (For this assignment, choose one of the links below.)
You must write on the assigned topic ONLY.
*Mark the letter of your assigned topic in the appropriate space on your answer sheet booklet. Be certain that all other requested information is properly recorded in your answer sheer booklet.
You will have 45 minutes to write on your assigned essay topic. *If you have time remaining in this test period after you complete your essay, you may return to the multiple-choice section. Do not return the Language Arts, Writing Test booklet until you finish both Parts I and II of the Language Arts, Writing Test.
Two evaluators will score your essay according to its overall effectiveness. Their evaluation will be based on the following features:
· Well-focused main points
· Clear organization
· Specific development of your ideas
· Control of sentence structure, punctuation, grammar, word choice and spelling
*REMEMBER, YOU MUST COMPLETE BOTH THE MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS (PART I) AND THE ESSAY (PART II) TO RECEIVE A SCORE ON THE LANGUAGE ARTS, WRITING TEST. To avoid having to repeat both parts of the test, be sure to do the following:
· Do not leave pages blank.
· Write legibly in ink so that the evaluators will be able to read your writing.
· Write on the assigned topic. If you write on a topic other than the one assigned, you will not receive a score for the Language Arts, Writing Test.
· Write your essay on the lined pages of the separate answer sheet booklet. Only the writing on these pages will be scored.
You may return to the multiple-choice section after you complete your essay if you have time remaining in this test period. Do not return the Language Arts, Writing booklet until you finish both Parts I and II of the Language Arts, Writing Test.
*Indicates instructions included in actual testing situation and not necessarily used for simulation.
Source: Official GED Practice Test: Language Arts, Writing; American Council on Education
Choose ONE topic below and do not change your choice.