The GED’s Reasoning through Language Arts segment incorporates an essay component, referred to as the extended response, which assesses your ability in evidence-based writing. This section has a duration of 45 minutes. Although the essay contributes only 20% to your final Reasoning through Language Arts score, it’s important to note that even if you don’t achieve a high score on the essay, you can still pass the overall test. The extended response prompts may cover diverse topics, but they consistently adhere to a standardized format. As the GED Exam is conducted on a computer, you’ll be required to type your essay directly into a designated text box.

GED Essay Structure

The format for the GED essay can adopt various structures, depending on how you choose to organize your thoughts. Regardless, it should consist of an introductory paragraph, 1-3 body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. To secure a passing score, your essay must articulate a clear topic supported by details from both provided passages. Initiate your essay with an introductory paragraph containing the main idea. In the subsequent paragraphs, establish connections between your details and the main idea.

The process begins with the presentation of two Stimulus Passages, each comprising 4–5 short paragraphs that introduce and take a stance on an issue, with one passage opposing the other. Following this, you receive an essay prompt. Ensure that your conclusion logically aligns with the presented details.

A recommended outline follows this general structure:

  1. Introduction:
    • Demonstrate your comprehension of the overall topic based on the passages.
    • Present a claim, which is a concise statement of your argument. While not detailed, it should articulate your essay’s position on the questions raised.
  2. Body Paragraphs:
    • Go into greater detail, combining summary, analysis, and evidence to support your claim.
    • Analyze both passages to strengthen your argument.
    • The strength of your essay lies in these body paragraphs.
    • Each body paragraph should introduce and describe one reason supporting the chosen position. Aim for a total of 3 reasons if following the 5-paragraph format.
    • Look for common ready-made arguments in the passages during your review.
  3. Conclusion:
    • Explain the result of your findings.
    • Reinforce your original claim.

This structured approach ensures a comprehensive and well-supported essay presentation, enhancing your chances of success in the GED Reasoning through Language Arts section.

Why the GED Extended Response Matters

Extended response items serve as an effective tool for evaluating and instructing students in grammar and writing. Proficiency in writing is crucial, as these items assess a student’s capacity to articulate thoughts coherently and adhere to grammatical standards. Additionally, such items necessitate essential critical thinking skills. Despite constituting only 20% of the overall score, preparation for this section is paramount for several reasons:

  1. Relevance of Evidence-Based Writing:
    • Evidence-based writing transcends being merely a question type; it is a skill essential for success in various contexts. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of employers prioritize candidates with robust written communication skills, ranking it as the third most desired quality after leadership and teamwork.
  2. Preparation for Workplace Writing:
    • Effective workplace writing relies on presenting facts rather than opinions. While opinions matter, convincing your boss to adopt a solution requires supporting evidence. Developing strong writing skills equips individuals with the ability to communicate and articulate ideas, essential for professional success.
  3. Impact on RLA Test Success:
    • The significance of scoring well on the extended response section extends beyond its individual weight. A higher score enhances the likelihood of passing the Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) test. Moreover, an exceptional score may even lead to achieving College Ready or College Ready+ status, potentially earning credits for college.

In essence, investing effort in preparing for the extended response section not only refines essential writing and critical thinking skills but also holds tangible benefits for future academic and professional endeavors.

How is the GED Essay Scored?

Scoring for the GED extended response allows a maximum of six points, distributed across three key categories, each offering a potential two points:

    1. Creation of Arguments and Use of Evidence:
      • Construct a compelling claim and employ insightful analysis of arguments and evidence from the provided passages to reinforce your position.
    2. Development of Ideas and Organizational Structure:
      • Produce a substantial essay characterized by clear transitions between ideas. Ensure a well-organized composition featuring a robust introduction and conclusion.
    3. Clarity and Command of Standard English Conventions:
      • Demonstrate proficiency in language usage by employing appropriate language and showcasing strong language and grammar skills throughout your essay.

Strategies for Passing the GED Essay

  1. Thoroughly Read Instructions:
    • Avoid misinterpretation by carefully reading and understanding all instructions. Misunderstanding the prompt is a common cause of low essay scores.
  2. Create an Outline:
    • Develop an outline after reviewing the passages and the prompt. Organize your thoughts during the pre-writing phase to streamline the essay composition process.
  3. Compile Evidence:
    • Take note of crucial details from the passages as you read. Creating a list of evidence ensures that important information is readily available, reducing the time spent searching for it later.
  4. Write the Introduction Last:
    • If you find it challenging to start the essay, leave the introduction for later. Begin writing the body of the essay first and return to write the introduction once the main content is established.
  5. Write First, Edit Later:
    • Optimize your 45 minutes by prioritizing the initial drafting of your essay. Save time for fine-tuning and editing in the latter part of the allotted time, ensuring a comprehensive and polished submission.
  6. Utilize Formal Language:
    • Steer clear of informal language and “I” statements like “I think.” Employ formal language and avoid slang to maintain a professional tone throughout your essay.
  7. Avoid Constant Clock Checking:
    • Minimize distractions and maintain focus by refraining from checking the clock frequently. Consistent clock-checking can disrupt your concentration on the essay.
  8. Practice Regularly:
    • Enhance your essay writing skills through consistent practice. Utilize the GED Writing Practice Test to hone your abilities, remembering to adhere to time constraints during your practice sessions.

For more information on how to write and pass the GED essay, check here