If you have been studying for the GED test, then you know it is a long exam. One of the hardest parts for students tends to be the Reasoning Through Language Arts sections.
It includes a GED essay section, which many students find difficult, especially those who are not used to taking standardized writing exams. In this guide, we will walk you through the essay section on the GED.
We will tell you how it works, how to study, and how to score well. We will also help you use essay samples to improve your score.
What is the GED?
The General Educational Development (GED) tests are designed and administered by the GED Testing Service LLC. The American Council on Education originally designed the test to provide students an opportunity to get a high school diploma equivalency certificate.
The GED Testing Service created four sections; Reasoning Through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies. You can sit for all four sections, and it will take about 7.5 hours. In this guide, we will focus on the essay section of the GED.
GED Essay: An Overview
The GED essay consists of one essay question that you will have 45 minutes to complete. It is considered an extended response question.
You will be given a stimulus paragraph that you will have to read and write an argument essay about. We recommend you decide which position is better supported by evidence and facts. The best-supported argument should follow a logical thought process that you can put down on paper.
How Should You Structure Your GED Essay?
Your GED essay should include an opening paragraph, body paragraphs, and a conclusion at the very minimum. We recommend keeping your essay between 300 and 500 words.
You should have anywhere from 4 to 7 paragraphs of 3 to 7 sentences each. While there is not a specific word count, we recommend keeping it between the target range to ensure you get the best score you can.
Your introduction paragraph should include an introduction to the topic you are writing about. This paragraph should also include your thesis statement and what argument you intend to pose.
The body paragraph of your essay should include your arguments with supporting evidence. You should be presenting information about the best-supported argument and why. These paragraphs should be the longest and most detailed.
The conclusion paragraph should sum up your main points and explain why you think your argument is better supported. You should restate your claim before concluding the essay.
How is Your GED Essay Scored?
Your GED essay will be scored by smart computers as opposed to a teacher or essay grader. The computers will use a complicated algorithm to grade your essay on the key components below. Keep in mind that you need to pose an argument for the facts and not state your position.
Organization is essential to any good essay. You will be graded on how well your essay is organized and how well the structure fits together.
Your ideas need to flow naturally throughout your writing. For example, you should start with an introduction paragraph and use the body paragraphs to state your arguments and evidence.
The introduction should grab the reader’s attention. The conclusion paragraph should follow and close out your essay.
2. Clear and Concise
You should be writing clear and concise sentences. A good essay will explain important points but not repeat them over and over again.
You should be able to state your point without leading the reader astray from your main ideas. We recommend keeping your body passages between two and seven sentences each.
You should use specific examples and supporting arguments. Make sure you stay on task and only write about the specific subject.
3. Detailed Progress
You should be able to state your position and explain your argument in a detailed progression that the reader can follow. For the extended response questions, you need to state an argument and provide supporting evidence.
The writing should follow a logical progression of thoughts and speaking. The better supported your position is, the better you will do on the extended response question.
4. Grammar and Sentence Structure
This is the more technical aspect of your writing. You need to make sure you are following the traditional rules of writing, grammar, and English. It is important that you know where to put commas and periods. You will lose points if all of your compound sentences are missing a comma.
5. Word Choice
On your GED essay, you should be choosing words that accurately describe your position. Your response should only include words that you know the meaning of.
You should also enhance your writing with impressive vocabulary words without being too wordy. You can practice your vocabulary by using flashcards or reading high-level books.
"Change is the end result of all true learning."
– Leo Buscaglia
How Can I Prepare for the GED Essay Using Samples?
Sample GED essays are a great way to practice for the writing section of the exam. You should get free sample passages from the GED website to test yourself and write more effective responses. Practice makes perfect in this case.
Time and time again, we see students fail to finish the writing passage within the allotted time. Every time you take a sample response question you should be setting a timer for 45 minutes. This will help you get an idea of the pacing of this part of the exam. It will also help you learn how to write under pressure.
Once you have some GED essay examples, you should read over each passage carefully. Look for specific keywords that will help you identify the arguments in the passage. There is more than one side to every argument, so choose wisely which position is better supported through evidence and examples.
Essay examples should also be used as a GED study guide before you take your exam. You can find these examples on the GED Testing Services website.  You should take a look at the passages and responses and see how the writer formed their arguments.
Did the writer use two or three paragraphs in the body? Small details like this can help you write a great essay on any topic. You should practice writing a passage every day to ensure you are ready for the test.
Recommended Article: What's the Best GED Preparation Book?
5 Tips For Writing Your GED Essay
1. Read Carefully
We cannot stress this enough, the best way to do well on your essay is to read carefully. You should not rush through the reading passage. We recommend taking one minute to read the passage two or three times before proceeding to the outline phase. Ensure you fully understand the topics presented before you move on.
2. Make an Outline
You should always make an outline before you begin to write. It can help you get your main topic on paper and save time in the long run. Your outline does not have to look like a professional-grade paper with bullet points, but it should be a rough estimate of what topics you want to cover.
You can even create your outline like a mind map if it helps you organize your topics into coherent sentences. However, if you want to outline, just get it down on paper before you proceed to your essay response.
3. Focus on the Subject
Stay on topic! It sounds like such an easy thing to do, but you would be surprised at how difficult it can be to stay focused when you are writing, especially if you are out of practice. The outline you create should help you stay on topic. Another thing you should do to practice is to take a step back every 10 minutes and read what you have written so far. Does it make sense? Is every sentence supporting your topic?
We recommend reading a few GED essay topics and organizing your thoughts out loud. Instead of writing down your response, practice speaking it. Some students are better speakers than writers, and this can help them combine the two.
4. Don’t Summarize
When you write your essay you should be able to understand the topics and summarize them in your head. Not on paper! You need to find a better-supported argument and explain it using facts and evidence. You don’t need to summarize the content that is already presented.
You should save a few minutes at the end of the test to proofread your work. Your essay should hit all of the major grading points. It should be easy to read and free of any grammatical errors.
GED Essay Samples and Testing: The Bottom Line
The GED essay question may seem daunting, but if you follow our study tips and practice, you should be able to ace this part of the test. You should practice writing every day before the test to ensure you get better at getting your thoughts on paper. One practice method is to use GED sample essays and try to mimic the responses using your own words.
About the author