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How to Write a GED® Essay

By George Esparza, Educator

Recently I looked at a sample GED essay. I'm sharing my evaluation because it's so helpful to see a sample of what to look for. Whenever I look at an essay, I look at the same things the GED (and TASC and HiSET!) readers look at.

Did I Answer the GED Question and Stay on Topic?

I think you did a pretty good job staying focused on the question of why people continue to do things, even though they know they’re harmful or bad. You say that it starts in childhood and that the behavior continues to adulthood, and then you tell how you think children get into bad behaviors. I wonder, though, if you could take one specific example and follow it through from beginning to end? At least one of the examples you give of bad behavior for children don’t really apply to adults… it’s not dangerous for an adult to drive a car. I think that if you really make the connection between the bad childhood behavior and bad adult education, it would be a stronger essay. For example, you mention that a child might want to taste alcohol. You can talk about how that behavior starts, grows, and becomes bad adult behavior… a child sees a parent drinking, wants to try alcohol, and then when they’re an adult they become an alcoholic. If you follow the specific example through, it’s easier for the reader to see what you mean.

Is My Writing Organized?

Your writing does have organization. You might look at the organization lessons in the GED Academy course online to brush up on how to organize your essay. Still, it seems like you’ve got the basics down.

You start by asking a question, which is a good way to start. The more interesting you can make the question, the better… it’s better to restate the question in your own way than to just repeat the GED question.

Your first paragraph is your introduction. In the introduction, you make your main point, that bad adult behavior comes from bad childhood behavior. That’s good. You list a number of bad child behaviors, but then you don’t really follow through with them in the rest of the essay (and at least one of them doesn’t really become a bad adult behavior, so it doesn’t apply very well to the essay… unless you can make a connection). It might be better to have just one or two bad childhood behaviors and explain how they start and how they become bad adult behaviors.

The middle paragraphs talk about how children learn bad (and good) behaviors from adults, but it doesn’t really relate it back to the main idea… how those behaviors then become bad adult behavior when the child grows up. I’d like to see the middle paragraph talk about a couple of specific examples of bad behavior children might have, where they come from, and how they become bad adult behaviors. One thing that’s good is that you use an example from your life. That’s always something that helps in writing! But it needs to be better connected to your main idea. Could burning your hand have become bad adult behavior? Did adults’ good advice stop you from developing behavior that would hurt you as an adult?

The last paragraph is the conclusion. You give advice… to pay attention to children to stop them from developing bad behavior that will follow them into adulthood. I think the idea for the conclusion is good, but that it could be more clearly stated.

Did I Give Enough Good Details?

The details that you give in the essay are specific bad things children might do, and the story from your own life about burning your hand. I think that the details is really what needs work in this essay… you need to pick a couple of specific examples that really fit into your main idea (drinking alcohol is a good one, and so is smoking cigarettes, since both of these definitely become bad adult behavior!), and then explain more about what kind of adult behavior kids are imitating, how caring adults might stop them, and how the bad childhood behavior later becomes bad adult behavior (alcoholism, cigarette addiction).

Are There Language Mistakes, Like Spelling and Grammar?

You do have some language mistakes that make it a little hard to follow. One thing is that you use semicolons (;) where you need commas. Try looking at GED Academy lessons on punctuation for more advice on semicolons and commas…but basically, everywhere you tend to use a semicolon, try putting a comma instead. This won’t be a big deal on the test.

What’s more important are grammar issues that make it sort of difficult to follow. When you say “Why do people continue doing harmful to themselves?,” either it should say “harmful things” or the word “harmful” should just be “harm.” “Curious with” should be “curious about,” and “cigarettes” is misspelled.

There are minor errors throughout the essay. The place I think they’ll count against you most is at the end. Like, “And while growing up and they did not learned the good” is a little confused…hard to follow. What you mean is, “While growing up, they did not learn what is good behavior,” or something like that. Maybe by the time you wrote the conclusion, you were tired, or hurried… that happens. Take a breath. Try to write with simple sentences. You don’t need to write anything fancy… just with clarity.

Did I Choose the Best Words to Say What I Mean?

I think you did okay with word choice. Most of your choices were good, accurate words. The only problem comes with grammar problems… like “harmful” instead of “harm” in the question at the beginning. Likely, you won’t catch all of these on the GED… but that’s okay. If I were you, I’d focus on having good organization, good details, and writing in clear, simple sentences. You’ve got good word choice, if you keep your grammar simple.

Try listening to Leonard’s solutions for the essays in writing GED Academy course… it will give you good practice on what types of things to look for and how to improve an essay.

And here are some good links to learn more about commas and organization:

Comma Information:

For organization, a good resource for you is probably the five-paragraph essay. Here are some resources:

And here’s some information on paragraph organization:

Of course, I really recommend the GED Academy Study Program writing and language courses. If you are enrolled already, just log in to the study program online.

Good writing!

Author’s Recommendations:

How to Write a GED® Essay by George Esparza is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United Stated License, redistribution of this article is allowed under the following terms outlined here.

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