By Leonard Williams
If you’re planning to take the GED® test soon, it’s essential to understand the GED writing essay test since many test candidates find it one of the most difficult aspects of the GED writing exam. Understanding what this part of the GED test expectsand how it’s scoredshould make passing the GED test easier, help drive your GED training, and improve your GED results.
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The GED diploma, the common term for the GED test credential, is the adult’s alternative to a high school diploma. The GED credential is awarded after passing tests in science, social studies, math, reading, and writing. Learn more: How can I get my GED?
Most of the GED test is multiple-choice. is multiple-choice. But part of the GED writing test requires the candidate to write an original essay, based on a provided prompt. The GED writing essay test will require you to write a clear and easy-to-understand essay, with a main idea and details that support your point of view, that stays on the topic of the prompt that’s provided. Two pages are provided for the GED essay, but there’s no requirement that all the space is used. Still, you should write around 200 words or more. To get a GED diploma, you must pass the GED writing essay test.
Most of the GED test is multiple-choice. But part of the GED writing test requires the candidate to write an original essay, based on a provided prompt. The GED writing essay test will require you to write a clear and easy-to-understand essay, with a main idea and details that support your point of view, that stays on the topic of the prompt that’s provided. Two pages are provided for the GED essay, but there’s no requirement that all the space is used. Still, you should write around 200 words or more. To get a GED diploma, you must pass the GED writing essay test.
A total of 120 minutes is allowed for both parts of the GED writing exam, with 75 minutes slotted for the 50 multiple-choice questions in part one and 45 minutes slotted for the GED essay test. Your GED results will combine your score on the GED essay and GED writing multiple choice tests. The higher your essay score is, the fewer multiple choice questions you need to get right. On the other hand, passing the GED test requires that you get a minimum passing score on the essay. Otherwise, you’ll get no score on the GED writing test at all, and you’ll have to retake it.
GED essays are scored on a 4-point scale, and scored by two trained GED essay readers.
The two readers’ GED testing scores are averaged together. If the essay receives a score of 2 or higher, the essay score is combined with the GED writing multiple-choice score to form a composite. If a candidate receives a score of 1 or 1.5 on the GED writing essay, there’s no composite GED results score, and the candidate must retake both the essay and multiple-choice portion of the test. GED essay readers may not be more than one point apart in their scoring. In those cases where the readers are more than one point apart, the chief reader for the GED scoring site will set the score by agreeing with the reader whose score follows the GED Testing Service® scale.
Individual GED essay writing scores are not reported, but the score accounts for 35 percent of the test.
GED Essay scoring is based on five areas, and measures the overall impression of the essay:
- Does the paper respond to the assigned prompt? Did the candidate use the topic on the test and remain on-topic?
- Can the reader see or follow an organized plan for development?
- Are there specific and relevant details to support the paper’s focus?
- Are the conventions of language (grammar, usage, and mechanics) generally followed?
- Is the word choice precise, varied, and appropriate?
Here’s a good way to understand these five requirements. The essay is scored on whether it answers the prompt. Does it talk about the topic it’s supposed to? It also needs organization. Does it have a beginning, a middle, and an end? And it needs details. Does it give examples? The essay is also scored on grammar, punctuation, word choice, and sentence structure. Is it readable and understandable? The grammar and spelling doesn’t have to be perfect. The most important measure is whether the essay is easy to understand, makes sense, and clearly answers the prompt.
Prompts differ from test to test, cover topics of general interest, and are not released in advance of the test. Here’s an example of a GED writing prompt:
“What is your most important reason for obtaining the GED credential? How do you think it will help you achieve a goal in the next year? In your GED essay, identify your most important reason for obtaining the GED and the most important goal you plan to achieve with it. Explain your point of view and support your goal, using your own experience, background and knowledge to support your essay.”
Here are some other examples of possible prompt topics:
- What is your most important goal to achieve in the next three years?
- What is a hobby you like, and why is it rewarding to you?
- What is your one most memorable experience in life, and why is it important to you?
So, what’s the best way to prepare for the GED essay test? Practice. To get GED practice for the essay test, practice writing two-page essays in the 45-minute time period. You may want to use the prompts above, or get prompts from free online GED study resources. Taking a GED practice test that includes sample GED essay prompts is very helpful. Your GED Test prep should include GED essays scored by a teacher and GED practice scoring your own essays, if possible.
Remember, you’ll need to support your main idea with your knowledge and experiences. Use examples from your life! You’ll also want to make sure every sentence in your essay relates to your topic and main idea. Start off your essay with a beginning paragraph that gives your main idea. In two or three middle paragraphs, talk about specific points in your main idea. Use details like stories, descriptions, facts, and events that happened to you to get your idea across. Include a conclusion that tells why what you’re writing about is important!
Once you write a few essays, ask for critique and guidance to determine how well your essays are organized, whether they focus on your subject, and whether they include details that support your main topic. You’ll also want to know that your grammar and use of English mechanics are sound.
- The University of Texas-Austin, Continuing Education Department, provides fantastic hints to help GED candidates get ready for the essay test.http://www.utexas.edu/cee/dec/scoring/hints.shtml
- The American Council on Education develops GED tests and provides information online about testing, official GED test locations, GED testing scores, GED sample test questions and prompts, and GED transcripts. The website is here.
- For more detailed testing advice about the GED test, including the essay exam and scoring, visit the GED Academy.
- McGraw-Hill provides an Online GED Guide to how essays are scored by readers.