One of the most challenging parts of the GED to prepare for is the writing portion. When you’re forced to put together your thoughts into a coherent, cohesive whole, free from mistakes and lapses in logic, it can be difficult, especially on a time crunch!
There is no knowledge base or word bank that you can look over and magically come out prepared. Becoming a great writer is essentially a years-long process. Unfortunately, you don’t have that long before the next exam. But luckily, you don’t have to be a great writer to pass the writing portion of the exam. All you need to be is competent. That means:
- Stating a thesis
- Supporting your thesis with examples
- Communicating ideas clearly and effectively
- Showing an understanding for the basic rules of spelling, grammar, and syntax
You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be able to answer the question in essay form. To help, we’ve put together these five GED writing tips that should set you on your way.
First, Ditch The Texting Speech.
It’s common sense that an essay question is not a text message. So don’t treat it like one! Typing “u” for “you” or “ur” for “your” and “you’re” is something that happens far too often in classroom compositions, and that can carry over into testing. It isn’t that people who make this mistake are stupid. They’re just so used to sending text messages that a lot of those poor shorthand habits seep in to formal writing. The best thing that you can do to make sure this doesn’t find its way into your work is to identify your shorthand go-to’s ahead of time. If you know that you have a tendency to shorten words or sub them out with letters (like “u”), then make sure you watch for those types of words when doing a final proof of your written response before submitting. It’s a lot easier to spot individual mixups when you’re seeking them out specifically. So do a run through the text where these types of words are all that you’re looking for.
Secondly, Mind Your Homonyms.
One of the worst pieces of advice that you’ll ever hear regarding the English language is to spell things like they sound. Big mistake. And homonyms bear a great deal of the blame. Combinations like “you’re, your, yore,” “bear, bare,” and “their, they’re, there” are often used incorrectly. Page through any 500-page study guide, and you’ll see a few pages devoted entirely to existing homonyms in the English language. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list if you want to see more.
If you have trouble distinguishing the rules, it can’t hurt to give these another look in your textbook or consult with your teacher to see if she has any suggestions for how to remember certain homonyms. It’s impossible to go down the list above and learn all of them, especially in such a short period of time, but you can make great headway if you start targeting this specific language function now.
Thirdly, Make Proofreading A Priority.
Proofreading sounds so boring, especially if you’re not in love with regular reading. However, it is essential when it comes to catching mistakes. When you’re in a crunch to write an entire essay in a short amount of time, mistakes are going to happen, and the more of them you catch the better! Unfortunately, when you read something as an editor the same way that you do as a writer, you tend to see what you want to see instead of what’s actually there on the page.
One good tip we’ve picked up over the years that has helped us shift gears to editorial is this: Start with the last sentence you wrote and read back through to the beginning, one sentence at a time. This forces your eyes to slow down and see the words for what they are on the page, rather than what they are in your head.
Fourthly, Be Formal.
Just as important as being able to communicate ideas, is demonstrating that you have a command of the English language — at least enough where you can distinguish the forms of writing and place them in the right connotation. By using formal English instead of slang, you’re able to show that you recognize what the question is calling for, and that you’re able to fashion the appropriate response.
Formal No: “I gave him forty bucks to wash and detail my car, and he came back with it looking squeaky clean from the inside, out.
Formal Yes: “The service charged forty dollars for its full-service package, which included a car wash and interior detail.”
Word choice, ladies and gentlemen. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.
Finally, Stay Structured.
GED written response questions want more than random facts and opinions strung together to fill out a word or paragraph count. They want you to take a look at the questions, analyze it, and then present that analysis as a series of carefully worded sentences that support your main idea. To pull off that little miracle in the time allotted, you’ll need to embrace structure.
While the word itself sounds boring, it will free your mind to be creative, thought-provoking, and focused. One of the most common forms of structure used at the high school level is that of the five-paragraph essay.
In the first paragraph, the writer sets up the topic and issues a thesis statement or main idea, which will tie in to every subsequent sub-topic presented in the body.
The second, third, and fourth paragraphs, each tackle a main point that ties back in to the thesis statement and works to support the whole. Each new paragraph ends with a transition leading into the next until you get to the end of the fourth paragraph. From there, you transition to your concluding paragraph where you restate the thesis and facts that support it and leave your reader with a final statement that encourages the reader in some way — to seek answers, to think for themselves, to remember something fondly. This varies depending on the topic of the essay and how it is written leading up to that point.
Once you look beyond the length of the piece and realize that each of the middle paragraphs are set up largely in the same way, and that the introductory and conclusion paragraphs have their own functions, it becomes easier to think less about what you’re going to write and more about how you’re going to say it.
The writing portion is a good indication of your thoughtfulness as a student and your ability to recognize personal and professional situations and respond accordingly. While it may not kill your chances of performing well on the GED, it’s worth noting that students struggling with this portion of the test will probably struggle in other areas. If you feel uneasy about your chances, we suggest doing as much writing as possible before exam day.
Recreate the environment of the test. Use actual practice questions to get a sense for the types of questions asked. And while you’re at it, keep reading. After all, good writers always start out as readers, and they continue to do so throughout the entirety of their careers. Best of luck as you move forward with the GED writing test.
Written by Aric Mitchell
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Use these sample GED® test questions to help you focus your study time and prepare yourself for the structure and format of GED® testing
Getting ready to take the GED® test? Start your prep with these sample GED® test questions to determine where you should focus your study time. Answers are provided at the end of all the questions.
Language Arts, Writing
1. The Internet is a world-wide network of computers that allow for easy sharing and transfer of all sorts of information.
Athat allow for
Bthat allows for
Dallow for the
Until modern times, high rates of reproduction were necessary to offset high mortality — especially infant mortality. In agricultural societies, children were assets in the home and farm-centered economy. Also, before care of the aged became institutionalized, parents had to rely upon their children for care in their old age. Large numbers of children were advantageous. As a result of those factors and of short life expectancy, American women spent most of their adult lives bearing and rearing four or five children.
Long before the tradition of the large family disappeared, some couples had begun to adopt the small family pattern. As a result of declining mortality rates, a diminishing need for child labor in agriculture, increasing costs of raising a child in an industrialized urban society, and improved methods of fertility control, both the number of children desired and the number born declined.
Amany infants died
Bold people needed care
Cchildren helped out on the farm
Dchildren were assets
Eall of the above
Amore infants survived
Bfarms were bigger
Cjuvenile delinquency increased
Dlife expectancy decreased
Eall of the above
Every day you breathe about 16,000 quarts of air. Almost everywhere in New York state, but especially in heavily populated areas, the air which circulates through your lungs and supplies oxygen to your bloodstream is splotched with unhealthy substances — carbon black, fly ash, soot, silica, metal dust, and other organic and nonorganic pollutants.
Air contaminants from industries, incinerators, power plants, automobiles, airplanes, and backyard leaf-and-debris burners stack the odds against us by contributing to staggering death and disease tolls. Medical research shows that air pollution can cause lung cancer. It increases suffering from pneumonia, allergies, asthma, and the common cold, as well as aggravating cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
High concentrations of air pollution — each lasting only a few days — were blamed for sharply increased death rates in Belgium's Meuse Valley in 1930; in Donora, PA in 1948; in London in 1952; and in New York City in 1963 and 1966. Air pollution kills.
Air pollution adversely affects all living things, stunting and killing flowers, shrubs, trees, and crops. Spinach, for example, can no longer be grown as an agricultural crop in the Los Angeles basin because of the city's smog problems. Crop damage means higher food prices, amplifying our already inflationary grocery-budget blues.
Pollutants also damage property and materials, soil clothing, discolor paint and even corrode stone, marble, and metal. Again the result can be measured in dollars and cents, in inconvenience and in higher cleaning and maintenance bills for homeowners, businesses, and government alike.
AThe common cold
From this time I was most narrowly watched. If I was in a separate room any considerable length of time, I was sure to be suspected of having a book, and was at once called to give an account of myself. All this, however, was too late. The first step had been taken. Mistress, in teaching me the alphabet, had given me the inch, and no precaution could prevent me from taking the ell.
The plan which I adopted, and the one by which I was most successful, was that of making friends of all the little white boys whom I met in the street. As many of these as I could, I converted into teachers. With their kindly aid, obtained at different times and in different places, I finally succeeded in learning to read. When I was sent on errands, I always took my book with me, and by doing one part of my errand quickly, I found time to get a lesson before my return. I used also to carry bread with me, enough of which was always in the house, and to which I was always welcome; for I was much better off in this regard than many of the poor white children in our neighborhood. This bread I used to bestow upon the hungry little urchins, who, in return, would give me the more valuable bread of knowledge.
I am strongly tempted to give the names of two or three of those little boys, as a testimonial of the gratitude and affection I bear them; but prudence forbids; — not that it would injure me, but it might embarrass them; for it is almost an unpardonable offense to teach slaves to read in this Christian country. It is enough to say of the dear little fellows that they lived on Philpot Street, very near Durgin and Bailey's shipyard. I used to talk this matter of slavery over with them. I would sometimes say to them, I wished I could be as free as they would be when they got to be men. "You will be free as soon as you are twenty-one, but I am a slave for life! Have not I as good a right to be free as you have?" These words seemed to trouble them; they would express for me the liveliest sympathy, and console with the hope that something would occur by which I might be free.
— from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
ADuring the Middle Ages
BDuring the Renaissance
CBefore the Civil War
DBetween 1880 and 1900
ABy his own efforts
BFrom his mistress
CWith the help of young white boys
DBy using his time in a clever way
EBy going to school
AThe Yearning for Freedom
BThe Burning for Success
CAs the World Turns
DHow I Learned to Read
EA Lover is Spurned
A75 * 32 + 75 * 88
B(75 * 32) + 88
C75(88 + 32)
D(88 + 32) * 75
E88 * 75 + 32 * 75
Ax + y = 5
Bx – y = 5
Cy – x = 5
Dy = x
Ey = –x
Language Arts, Writing
1. The correct answer is (B). Change "that allow for" to "that allows for." Since this refers to a worldwide network, it has to be singular.
1. The correct answer is (E). Choices (A), (B), (C), and (D) are all stated in the first paragraph.
2. The correct answer is (A). Paragraph 2 mentions "declining mortality rates" as one reason for the decrease in family size.
1. The correct answer is (B). Spinach can no longer be grown in Los Angeles. (See paragraph four.)
2. The correct answer is (D). According to paragraph two, medical research shows all except polio are effects of pollution.
3. The correct answer is (C). The second sentence states that air "circulates through your lungs."
1. The correct answer is (C). Douglass uses the present tense and indicates that slavery still exists. Slavery was declared void in the United States just after the Civil War.
2. The correct answer is (C). He made the boys into teachers, and they taught him to read.
3. The correct answer is (D). These paragraphs are about learning to read.
1. The correct answer is (B). Choices (A), (C), (D), and (E) are all examples of the commutative and distributive properties. The quantity in choice (B) is not equal to 75(32 + 88).
2. The correct answer is (E). Substitute the coordinates of each point in each equation. Only y = –x is satisfied by the coordinates of the points: (–2, 2): 2 = –(–2)
(3, –3): –3 = –(3)
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