The Extended Response essay on the GED requires some very specific skills, ranging from grammar and proper language usage to comprehension and analysis skills. If you’ve ever had an argument about who has the best team or which employer is better, you already know how to assess arguments and respond. Now you need to hone those skills. As you prepare for the RLA Extended Response, do the following:
Read, read, and read some more. Just like for the other parts of the RLA test (and most other tests on the GED), reading is important. Reading exposes you to well-crafted sentences, which can help you improve your own writing. Reading also expands your horizons and provides you with little bits of information you can work into your essay.
As you read, make an outline of the paragraphs or chapters you read to see how the material ties together. Try rewriting some of the paragraphs from your outline, and compare what you write to the original. Yours may not be ready for prime time, but this exercise gives you practice in writing organized, cohesive sentences and paragraphs, which can go a long way in this part of the test.
Practice editing your own work. After the test starts, the only person able to edit your essay is you. If that thought scares you, practice editing your own work now. Take a writing workshop, or get help from someone who knows how to edit. Practice writing a lot of essays, and don’t forget to review and edit them as soon as you’re done writing.
Review how to plan an essay. Few people can sit down, write a final draft of an essay the first time around, and receive a satisfactory grade. Instead, you have to plan what you’re going to write. The best way to start is to jot down everything you know about a topic without worrying about the order. From there, you can organize your thoughts into groups.
Practice writing on a topic (and not going off topic!). Your essay must relate to the given topic as closely as possible. If the test asks you to write about your personal goals, and you write about a hockey game you once played in, you can kiss your good score on this part of the test goodbye.
To help you practice staying on topic, read the newspaper and write a letter to the editor or a response to a columnist. Because you’re responding to a very narrow topic that appeared in a particular newspaper article, you have to do so clearly and concisely — if you ever want to see it in print.
Think about, and use, appropriate examples. You’re dealing with information presented in the source text. You’ll find information in the source text for and against the position you are to argue. When you take a position, you need to use materials from the source text to support your position. Use that information. Look for flaws in the logic.
You can find good examples of such arguments in the editorial section of a newspaper or in blogs. Look at how the writers develop their arguments, use logic to support their positions, and perhaps use false logic or flawed reasoning to persuade the readers.
Practice general writing. If writing connected paragraphs isn’t one of your fortes, practice doing so! Write long e-mails. Write long letters. Write to your member of Congress. Write to your friends. Write articles for community newspapers. Write short stories. Write anything you want — whatever you do, just keep writing.
Write practice essays. Write essays based on the topics given, and then ask a knowledgeable friend or former teacher to grade them for you. You may want to take a preparation class in which you’re assigned practice topics to write about, too. When you think you’re finished practicing, practice some more.
The Extended Response section of the GED can be very intimidating. But as momma used to say, “practice makes perfect.” The more familiar you become with the writing process, the better your chances of passing! Use our practice GED essay topics to help perfect your writing skills!
How to practice for the Extended Response section
- Set a timer for 45 minutes. This is how long you have to write your essay during the actual GED exam. It is best to practice under conditions that mimic the real test.
- Whenever possible, type your practice responses. During the GED, all your essays will be written on the computer.
- Always outline your answer first. Taking a few minutes at the beginning to structure your essay can save you valuable writing time later.
- Vary your response topics. The GED asks test-takers to write on a variety of subject matter. Prepare yourself by finding different prompts that stretch your writing abilities.
- Keep in mind that successful prompts generally contain 4-7 paragraphs with 3-7 sentences each. Whenever you practice, aim for essays that are in the 400-500 word range.
- Use specific evidence from the text when writing. Doing so creates a stronger essay by showing you read and understand the information presented.
For a more in-depth view of extended responses, check out the RLA Guide for Adult Educators. This is a complete overview of how to write a GED essay, as well as how the essay will be scored. Guidelines are given so that you can follow as closely as possible to a real testing situation.
Where to find practice GED Essay topics
When looking for GED essay topics online, keep in mind that not all sites reflect updated GED information. Many sites still list pre-2014 GED requirements for written responses. Writing topics that ask you to respond with a personal opinion are no longer featured on the current GED.
A quality GED essay topic always provides 2 articles written with opposing opinions. Your task is to read both articles, then determine which opinion is best supported throughout the text. Your personal opinion is never asked for or shared in your response.
GED Testing Services
Start here first! GED Testing Service is always a great place to find quality GED essay topics. This site has 5 different reading passages. Covering a range of topics, these passages provide conflicting arguments on issues such as cell phone usage, game-based learning, parenting, internet use and hosting the Olympics. Like many essay prompts, analyze the passages, then develop an essay based on which position is best supported by the text.
GED Practice Questions
In this prompt, two articles highlight differing perspectives on police militarization. In addition to regular essay instructions, a sample response is provided for review. The sample essay is a good example of what GED essays should look like. Compare your essay with the sample to see which areas need improvement.
GED Test for Dummies
Taken directly from their book, Dummies authors present arguments for and against making cyberbullying a criminal defense. After reading both arguments, write your essay explaining which opinion is best supported. Always use specific evidence found in the text to validate your essay.
For tips on how to determine which argument is stronger, Dummies also provides step-by-step guided instruction in essay writing.
How to Pass the GED
The topics here vary from Miranda Rights to Santa Claus. For each GED essay topic, two opposing opinions are shared. You write on the one that is better represented. In addition to the prompts, the site explains the process that goes into writing a 5-paragraph GED essay for the Extended Response section.
Another bonus: essays for BOTH sides of the argument are provided. Each essay is outlined and thoroughly explained according to the site’s guidelines. For a comprehensive view of how to compose an essay, this is a great site to visit.
ACE Leon Evidence-Based Writing Prompts
Although these prompts are not framed in the true GED extended response format, they still offer a great way to practice. There are over 7 different writing topics to choose from. Because this is evidence-based writing, structures are in place to help guide your responses.
Create your own GED essay topics
If you get to a point where you can’t find any more practice writing prompts, consider making up your own. GED essay topics generally reflect current events. Find an article that expresses an opinion on any topic, and write an essay analyzing that information.
Practicing the components of quality essay writing is helpful no matter what topic you focus on. Just make sure you cite evidence from the article in your essay!
We have lots more GED information waiting for you! Check out any of our great Magoosh blogs for loads of GED tips, guides and resources.
About Beth Gonzales
Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.
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