Are you feeling intimidated by the GED Extended Response Writing Assessment? If so, that’s completely normal. But don’t get too stressed—there is a fairly straightforward formula for attacking this portion of the exam. The following three GED writing practice tips are sure to help boost your confidence in taking essay-style exams.
#1 Understand the Overall Goal of the GED Writing Test
First, let’s take a look at what the Extended Response Writing section of the exam is actually testing.
The GED Extended Response is a 45-minute test (that constitutes section 2 of the overall Reasoning Through Language Arts component) in which you will read two argumentative passages presenting different views on the same topic. After reading both pieces, you will take a stance on the subject and present your own opinion—with ample support from the texts—in the form of an essay.
The GED Extended Response section is testing for
In short, you need to be able to read, think critically, form an argument, and write cohesively using correct spelling, grammar, and style.
#2 Practice Essay Preparation and Organization
Perhaps the best technique for GED writing practice is taking sample GED Extended Response Tests which involves—you guessed it!—reading passages and crafting an essay in response to them, just as you will on the real thing.
While you should definitely construct some complete essays from start to finish, you should also prepare, in general, by becoming familiar with each specific section of the essay and the overall organizational process.
First things first: read both of the passages provided on the test.
Sample GED Extended Response passages are all very similar to the ones you will see on your actual exam prompt, so they work well for familiarizing yourself with the type of reading you will be required to do.
In each passage, underline the main ideas and details that stand out to you as important. Try putting a star next to key differences between the two arguments that you find in each passage. Then, try making an argument/support chart for each piece.
Using a chart like the one below, identify a couple of key arguments from each author in the left column, and cite specific textual evidence as support in the right column.
Here is an example of an argument/support chart using the first sample article, linked above, titled, “The Militarization of Police: Harming Civil Liberties, Impacting Children, and Creating War Zones” by the ACLU. The overall piece is an explanation and critique of the dangerous militarization of the United States police force.
Note that you can cite figures, paraphrase information, or provide direct quotes—whatever helps you sort out the content most effectively.
|Swat teams are violently and unnecessarily raiding people’s homes||-80,000 raids last year
-Numerous human and pet fatalities
|The federal government spends billions of dollars annually on supplying police forces with military weapons. ||“The main beneficiaries of this militarization are military contractors who now have another lucrative market in which to sell their products. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making record profits by selling their equipment to local police departments that have received Department of Homeland Security grants.”
The more times you practice identifying central arguments and lines of support, the better able you will be to address the topic at hand in your essay, whatever it may be. Even if you don’t have time to sit down and craft an entire essay, just doing this portion of the GED writing practice process is useful.
Being familiar with the basic parts of the GED Extended Response essay structure will benefit you when you’re writing under time restrictions. Below is an overview of the sections of the essay you will have to compose, with a checklist of details to include in each section.
Middle (sometimes referred to the body of an essay)
One paragraph for each piece of evidence, each with the following:
#3 Engage in GED Writing Practice Outside of the Test
Doing practice tests that mimic the exact format of the GED Extended Writing test is invaluable to the studying process, but what can you do beyond that to give you an edge on testing day?
Read, read, read!
Becoming a good close reader is like mastering any skill: it takes practice. Read whatever you can, whenever you can, especially argumentative non-fiction pieces. For instance, reading editorials in newspapers will help you become acquainted with the construction of personal arguments, well-chosen language, and well-crafted sentences.
Practice editing your own work. This goes for GED writing practice prompts of course (even if you may not have the time to edit your actual exam quite as thoroughly), but also anything you put into the printed word: e-mails, personal blogs, etc.
Or edit your peers’ GED writing practice prompts. Make sure to look for clarity (does every sentence actually make sense?), cohesion (do the ideas flow logically?), and correctness (is proper spelling, grammar, and style used?). The more you engage in editing and proofreading, in general, the better prepared you will be to write a well-crafted essay in 45 minutes.
Practice language drills
Become familiar with and practice the most common ways of improving your writing stylistically: write in the active voice, avoid vague pronouns, use plenty of sentence length variety, etc.
While doing grammar and style drills on their own may feel a bit boring or unrelated, it’s a GED writing practice technique that is guaranteed to help your writing become more polished.
So There You Have It!
The GED Extended Response Writing exam isn’t nearly as scary as it can seem. GED writing practice is most effective when you truly understand what you are being tested on, when you are highly familiar with the test format, and when you work some of the necessary writing skills into your daily life.