Reading & Writing Study Guide

Table of Contents

This Reading & Writing Study Guide is part of our GED Study Guide series. 

Reading and writing for the GED can seem hard, and even confusing! The good news is, with the right kind of preparation, any student can pass the test. This guide will help you understand what you need to study to learn the skills you need quickly and easily.

In this guide, you’ll learn about the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts Test—the reading, writing, and language portion of the GED Test. The GED Test gives you one test for both reading and writing because these skills are closely connected. If you want to get a personalized idea of where you are now and what you need to learn, try taking a GED Reading Practice Test or a GED Writing Practice Test. When you’re done, you can always come back here to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Reading & Writing Test 

What is language arts and why it is important?

Put simply, language arts is reading and writing. The GED tests your ability to understand what you read and to write clearly and effectively. In other words, it’s about communication. Can you read an email from your boss? Can you write a letter asking for a refund? Can you read and understand a news article or get the point of a story? Can you express your thoughts on a topic? These everyday skills are the core of the language arts test.

Is the GED language arts test hard?

The GED language arts test is one test that covers both reading and writing. It doesn’t have to be hard, with the right preparation.

Is GED reading hard?

The reading test will ask you to read a few passages that are 400 to 900 words long, and then you’ll answer 6 to 8 questions about each passage. 

About 25% of the passages will be stories—literary passages. The language won’t be too hard or complicated, but you’ll need to understand the characters, theme, and plot. What’s going on?

The other 75% of the passages are informational. The main topics are workplace, science, or social studies. The whole idea of these passages is to give you real-world letters or articles, and see if you understand what you read. They might include diagrams or graphics.

The basic idea is, can you read a short passage and understand what it says? Can you find details? Can you get the main idea? Can you compare what two passages say? With a little bit of practice, you can easily get the skills you need

Is GED writing hard?

The writing part of the test will have two types of question. First, along with the reading passages, you’ll have some writing passages. For these questions, you’ll need to make edits or corrections to the passages. The readings will be mostly workplace documents, like letters and memos. The passages will be short, around 450 words. You’ll need to make choices to make sure the grammar and punctuation is correct. What is the right word to use? What’s the best punctuation? Where should a sentence end, and another one begin? Most learners need to brush up on their language skills a little but, but luckily, these skills are easy to learn.

Second, you’ll need to write an essay. The essay is called the extended response, and it combines your reading and writing skills. You’ll need to read two passages with two different points of view about a topic. Then you’ll need to write a response that talks about the arguments in each passage. What points do the authors make? Which one has better evidence? Which is the strongest argument? The essay can seem hard, but it doesn’t have to be. To be successful, you need to know what to expect. You need a structure to follow, with a beginning, middle, and end. If you try to answer the question with details from the passage and write a full essay, with a beginning, middle, and end, then you’ll do well. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

What to Expect on the GED Language Arts Test

The GED Reading Test is about 80% of the test and consists of:

  • 35% Reading for Meaning
    • What order do things happen in?
    • What inferences can you make about what you read?
    • What are the relationships between ideas, people, or events?
    • What are the details, and why are they important?
    • What’s the author’s point of view or purpose?
    • How does the writer use words and phrases?
    • What is the structure of the text, and why is it organized that way?
    • How do two passages compare?
  • 45% Identifying and Creating Arguments (Including reading questions plus the essay.)
    • What are the details and evidence?
    • What’s the main idea?
    • What inferences or conclusions can you make about what the author is saying?
    • How are details used to support the main idea?
    • How good is the evidence or support for an idea?
    • How do two arguments compare?
  • The other 20% of the test is writing!
  • The passages are 25% literary texts and 75% informational texts. 
    • They’re between 400 and 900 words.
    • They cover science, social studies, work texts, and stories.
    • There are 6 to 8 questions about each passage.

The GED Writing Test is about 20% of the language arts test and consists of:

  • Grammar and Language
    • Can you edit to fix commonly confused words?
    • Can you fix problems with word usage, like the wrong verb form or the wrong pronoun?
    • Can you fix confusing language or make the language clearer?
    • Can you fix capitalization?
    • Can you fix run-on sentences, fragments, or connecting words?
    • Can you use apostrophes correctly?
    • Can you use punctuation correctly?
  • One Essay Question
    • This essay question tests your reading and writing skills!
    • Read two passages.
    • Write an essay that compares the two arguments. Which has better evidence? Why?

How Many Questions are on the GED Language Arts Test and How Long Does the Test Take?

The GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test is one reading and writing test, so you’ll take it all at one time. You’ll have one 10-minute break.

  • You’ll take the test on a computer at a testing center.
  • The whole test is 150 minutes, or 2 hours and 30 minutes.
  • There are about 50 questions, plus 1 essay.
  • The test is scored from 100 to 200 points.
  • You need 145 to pass the test. (In New Jersey, you need to score 150.)

The Reading Questions

  • Expect about 40 reading questions and 5 or 6 passages.
  • Expect 1 to 2 literary passages, and 4 or 5 science, social studies, or workplace passages.
  • Expect 6 to 8 questions per passage.
  • Reading questions could be on Part I (before the break) as well as Part II (after the break).
  • Most questions are multiple choice.
  • Some questions are drag-and-drop.

The Writing Questions

  • Expect about 10 editing (language) questions and about 2 passages to edit.
  • Most questions will be a drop-down in a sentence, so you’ll choose the best way to complete the sentence.
  • Editing questions could be on Part I or Part II.
  • 1 essay question is on Part I. You’ll need to read two passages and compare them.
  • The essay is called the extended response.

Part I: Reading, Writing, and Essay

  • You’ll have 3 minutes to read the instructions.
  • Part I is 72 minutes.
  • Part I will have a set of questions plus the essay, or extended response.
  • After Part I, you’ll have a 10-minute break.

Part II: Reading and Writing

  • Part II is 65 minutes.
  • You’ll answer most of the multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and drop-down questions in Part II.

How Can I Pass my Language Arts Test?

To pass GED language arts, you should study three things:

1. Reading

Reading questions are about 80% of the test. You should be able to read and understand passages on a wide variety of everyday topics, including stories, science, social studies, and workplace documents like letters, instructions, or memos. Here are some good steps to take:

  • Take a practice test to find out what you need to study. You can take a free reading practice test here.
  • Study with a workbook, an online course, or on your own. 
  • Start by reading easier passages and answering questions. What’s the main idea? What are the details? Then, start reading harder passages. Can you compare them? What’s the author’s point of view.
  • A good online course like GED Academy can help lead you through, step by step.

2. Writing (Language)

Writing questions are about 20% of the test. You should be able to edit workplace documents like emails, letters, and memos to fix errors or make the meaning clearer:

  • Take a practice test to find out what you need to study. You can take a free writing practice test here.
  • The questions for this section are editing questions, so make a list of topics you need to study, like subjects and verbs, punctuation, or pronouns. If you use an online course, it can make this list for you.
  • Study with a workbook, an online course, or on your own. Try to focus on the specific topics that you need help with. Ask yourself: What are common errors or mistakes? Can you edit a sentence to make it error-free?

3. GED Essay, or Extended Response

  • Find out what’s expected on the extended response. A good study program should help you practice with extended response questions.
    • You’ll read two different points of view about a topic that make an argument and use evidence.
    • You’ll compare the two points of view. Which one has better evidence? Which one is better supported?
  • You’ll use details from the reading in your written response.
  • Learn about arguments, so you can compare two arguments and their evidence.
  • Learn about essay structure, so you can write an essay with a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Practice writing extended responses with GED-type essay questions. 
  • Make sure you write 300 words or more, with a beginning, middle, and end!

Where Can I Take the GED Language Arts Practice Tests 2019?

A good practice test is a great place to start! You can find out what types of questions you’ll see on the GED test and figure out what you need to study. You can take a free online practice test for the GED Reading Practice Test and for the GED Writing Practice Test.

What GED Language Arts Books Should I Study?

For many people, studying with a written workbook is the best way. Here are some good workbooks to try.

Essential Skills Workbooks

For the reading portion of the language arts test, try Essential Reading Skills. This workbook is easy to use and targets the types of questions on the GED Language Arts test. In this book, you’ll:

  • Read science, social studies, literary, and workplace texts.
  • Answer questions about GED topics like point of view, main ideas, themes, and details.
  • Learn to read about arguments and support, to help with both writing and reading.

For the writing portion of the test, including the extended response essay, try Essential Writing Skills. This workbook focuses on practical editing and writing GED extended response essays. You’ll get a wide range of practice that will help you score well on writing. 

Steck-Vaughn GED: Test Prep 2014 GED Reasoning Through Language Arts Spanish Student Workbook (Spanish Edition)

If you’re planning to take the Reasoning Through Language Arts test in Spanish, Steck-Vaughn provides a complete Spanish-language prep workbook that can help you prepare. This workbook covers both reading and writing in Spanish for the GED test.

  • A simple, repeated structure takes you through lessons on both reading and writing for the GED
  • Includes practice questions and tips

GED Reasoning Through Language Arts Study Guide 2018–2019

If you’re looking for a quick, short study guide, this book by Inc. Exam Prep Team Accepted gives a brief overview of the GED and three quick preparation guides:

  • Reading

  • Grammar and Sentence Structure

  • The Essay

The preparation section is only about 65 pages long, and provides a practice test at the end. For students seeking a quick refresher, this book might suit your needs.

Are There GED Language Arts Worksheets to Help Me Study?

Here are some free GED worksheets to help you refresh your skills!

Reading Worksheets

Try this sample Essential Reading Skills chapter with sample questions and exercises to learn about text structure. Use these worksheets while you read to improve your reading comprehension and understanding:

Writing Worksheets

Is There a GED Language Arts Cheatsheet to Help Me Understand the Test?

Check out out GED Reasoning Through Language Arts cheat sheet below to get a quick overview of the test and what you need to know.

What to Expect on the GED Language Arts Test

Before you take the test, it’s important to know what to expect on the GED Language Arts test. If you’re prepared, then you’ll score better. It’s that simple!

The Reasoning Through Language Arts test can be confusing because it combines reading and writing in one test. That includes:

  • Reading: Multiple choice and drag-and-drop reading questions
  • Language: Multiple choice and drop-down language questions
  • Writing: An essay question, called the extended response

These aren’t separate tests or even really separate parts of the test. When you take the test, it will have two parts, with a 10-minute break in between. Part I will include some reading and/or language questions and the writing essay. Part II will be more reading and language questions. What’s important is that you know what to study for the three subject areas of the test. Here’s a closer look.

GED Reading Test

About 80% of the test is reading. For these questions, you’ll read a short passage and then answer 6 to 8 questions about it. So, what are the passages like?

  • The passages are 400 to 900 words long. That’s about 1 to 2 single-spaced typed pages. They’re not very long, but they’re long enough to give a good amount of details.
  • 75% of the passages are informational. Some of them will be workplace documents, like instructions, emails, memos, or letters. Some of them will be science or social studies articles. 
  • 25% of the passages are literary. These passages are short stories with characters, themes, events, and details.

What are the questions like? Well, here are the topics on the GED Reading portion of the test.

Reading for Meaning questions make up about 35% of the test. The questions ask whether you understand the structure of the text, the use of words, the point of view, and the development of ideas, relationships, and events. In short, what’s going on? Try a sample question!

Read this passage and answer the question that follows.

Buffalo Bill in Show Business

William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody was an accomplished Indian scout and buffalo hunter when E.Z.C. Judson, a writer who went by the name of Ned Buntline, met him in the summer of 1869. Judson wrote western stories and what were known as "dime novels" (small paperback books that sold for 10 cents.) He helped create "Buffalo Bill" and made him the hero in a number of his books. These stories made Buffalo Bill famous in the East and when he went to New York for a visit, he saw a play based on his adventures.

After his trip to New York, Buffalo Bill went home to Nebraska but decided to try his hand at show business. Ned Buntline adapted the play and together they produced the show, The Scouts of the Plains. Although some critics thought the show was ridiculous, Buffalo Bill was praised because his acting was based on genuine experience. The following year Buffalo Bill organized his own troop of players, called the Buffalo Bill Combination. In 1883, he came up with the idea for the Wild West show. It was an outdoor spectacle designed to educate and entertain. When Buffalo Bill's Wild West show came to town, it was a big deal. There would be a parade, like the one in this film, which included cowboys, Indians, soldiers on horseback, and horse-drawn carriages.

In 1887, Buffalo Bill's show performed at Madison Square Garden in New York City with 100 Indians, Annie Oakley, trick riders, ropers, and shooters as well as many different wild animals. The show was four hours long and included Indian war dances and an "attack" on a stagecoach. The show even went on tour to England and Europe. It was such a success that Queen Victoria saw it three times. Even after Buffalo Bill died in 1917, the Wild West shows continued.

Source: “Buffalo Bill in Show Business” by America’s Library. Available at:

What does the writer mean by saying that Judson “helped create ‘Buffalo Bill’”? 
  • Judson helped William F. Cody create the nickname “Buffalo Bill.”
  • Judson helped make “Buffalo Bill” popular by writing stories about him.
  • Judson created a fictional character in his books called “Buffalo Bill.”
  • Judson created the idea of “dime novels,” which inspired “Buffalo Bill.”
Answer: Judson helped make “Buffalo Bill” popular by writing stories about him.
When the writer says Judson “helped create ‘Buffalo Bill,’” he or she means the popular stories about and popularity of “Buffalo Bill.” Judson wrote stories about William Cody that helped make him popular as “Buffalo Bill.”

Identifying Arguments questions make up about 45% of the test, although part of this 45% is the essay. The questions ask about the main idea and details of an argument the writer is trying to make. What evidence does the writer use? How strong is the evidence? Can you compare two arguments and their evidence? Try a sample question about an argument!

Read this passage and answer the question that follows.

To: General Manager

From: Anna Garcia, Human Resources

Subject: We Need a New Workplace Policy

After last week’s office party, it is clear that the workplace needs a clear policy about decorations. Currently, the employee handbook contains no policy about decorations in the office. Decorations, both permanent and temporary, can cause damage to the office walls and cubicles. I am proposing a new policy, with the following wording:

All temporary office decorations for holidays, parties, or other events should be put in place using non-damaging, removable wall adhesives. Permanent decorations for your cubicle may use non-damaging, removable adhesives or thumbtacks applied to cubicle walls. Any decorations that cannot be hung without damage require approval from human resources. Non-damaging wall adhesive tape will be made available in the supply closet.

The main reason for this policy is the use of nails, tacks, and tape in the conference room walls to hang decorations for last week’s party. These temporary decoration caused damage to the paint and walls of the conference room, which is used for client meetings. The repairs took most of a week and cost the company $200.

I understand that our supply budget is low, but the cost of non-damaging tape will be far less than the potential cost for repairs after future events. Please see the attached spreadsheet for details.

Thank you for your attention,

Anna Garcia

Which piece of evidence would help support Anna Garcia’s argument?
  • After one employee’s last day, the company found that water from a plant had damaged her desk.
  • After one employee’s last day, the company found that her cubicle wall was torn by hanging a photo.
  • When one employee started, employees in nearby cubicles complained about the bright colors of her decorations.
  • When one employee started, employees in nearby cubicles complained about the noise caused by nailing pictures to the wall.
Answer: After one employee’s last day, the company found that her cubicle wall was torn by hanging a photo.
This is an example of hanging decorations causing damage to the office. This problem would be solved by hanging the photo with a non-damaging material.

GED Writing Test

About 20% of the test is language or editing questions, and the writing portion also includes the GED essay, or extended response, which covers both reading and writing skills.

Grammar and Language

Language or editing questions might be multiple choice or drop-down. A drop-down question will ask you to complete a sentence with the correct word, phrase, or punctuation. For this section of the test, you’ll need to:

Language or editing questions might be multiple choice or drop-down. A drop-down question will ask you to complete a sentence with the correct word, phrase, or punctuation. For this section of the test, you’ll need to:

  • Write clearly and eliminate wordy or awkward language
  • Fix commonly confused words
  • Edit errors in verbs, pronouns, informal language, or misplaced modifiers
  • Use parallel sentence structure
  • Use transition words and phrases and connecting words
  • Use correct sentence structure
  • Use correct punctuation, capitalization, and apostrophes

Try a sample question! 

One group of employees ____________ meeting in the conference room right now.
  • are
  • is
  • will be
  • will have been
Answer: is 
The sentence should read: “One group of employees is meeting in the conference room right now.” The words “right now” show that the verb should be present tense. The subject is singular, “group,” so the verb needs to be singular, too. The phrase “of employees” is a distraction that can sometimes lead to mistakes. Try eliminating any phrase between the subject and the verb to see what sounds best! “One group is meeting in the conference room” sounds right, but “one group are meeting…” doesn’t!

GED Essay, or Extended Response

The GED essay is only one question on the test, but often it’s the one that students worry about the most. Keep in mind that the essay is only one part of the test. If you write a complete essay with a beginning, middle, and end that answers the question, you’ll do great. Try this technique:

  • Beginning: Write about 100 words. Answer these questions: 
    • What is the main position of each side?
    • Which point of view has better support or evidence? 
    • What are some general reasons why one is better?
  • Middle: Write about 200 words. Answer these questions:
    • What is one piece of evidence that’s strong from the best argument? What does it mean? How does it support the argument? Why is it strong?
    • What is one piece of evidence that’s weak from the worse argument? What does it mean? How does it hurt the argument? Why is it weak?
    • What are two pieces of evidence that you can compare in the two arguments? How do they compare? Which is stronger? Why?
  • End: Write about 100 words. Answer these questions:
    • How would you summarize the evidence in the two arguments?
    • What other information would be helpful to know?
    • Which point of view has better support?
    • Why is this issue important?

Download this sample essay prompt to try your skills!

10 GED Language Arts Tips and Tricks: How to Study for the Test

The best way to study for GED Language Arts is to spend some time, separately, on reading, writing, and language. Although they are on the same test, you can study these three different skills separately.

1. Study Reading First

Reading is a great place to start for the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test! Reading is about 80% of the test, and bumping up your reading skills will help you with the essay, too.

2. Take GED Language Arts Practice Tests

Taking a practice test is the best way to start studying and improve your score. A good practice test shows you what the test is like. It also shows you what you need to study. You can start with our free, online reading and writing practice tests. You’ll find practice questions just like the ones on the GED Test. 

3. Study More Quickly and Effectively, Here Is How!

The language arts test can be tough because reading and writing are big subjects. How can you learn quickly? Use these techniques every time you study! To learn to read better, use this easy technique:

  1. Ask yourself questions before you read. Skim through the title, the beginning, and the end. Then ask questions about what you’ll read.
  2. Think about the questions and make notes while you read. Did you find the answers? Do you have more questions? What seems important?
  3. Review and organize your notes after you read. What conclusion can you come to about what you read?

To learn to write better, use a writing process:

  1. Plan before you begin to write. What is your main idea? What details will you use? What will go in your conclusion?
  2. Draft a complete essay with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  3. Revise and edit what you’ve written. Make it clearer. Give it more details. Fix any errors.

4. Read for Pleasure!

What do you like? What are you interested in? Find short, easy books or stories that are interesting to you, and read them for fun. Read newspapers or magazines or websites. Get a library card for access to free books. With most library cards, you can check out free ebooks from the Libby app or Overdrive. Read about something that is important to you! This is a great way to improve your reading. It doesn’t matter what you read, but reading more will help! 

5. Make Time and Space to Study

Make a study space that’s organized and has everything you need. Schedule a regular time to study every day and stick to it!

  • Study a little every day before you go to sleep. What you learn will stick with you better!
  • Stick with studying. Keep a tracker and mark off every day that you study. After a whole week, give yourself a reward!

6. Answer Reading Practice Questions

Here’s how to approach a reading question when you study or on the test!

  1. Read the question or questions first. The question tells you what to look for in the text! If you know what you need to answer, you can pay attention to the right part of the text.
  2. Read the text carefully. Find the part that’s relevant to the question, and slow down. Check your understanding of what you read. Do you get the meaning?
  3. Read the answer choices. Eliminate any answer that you know is wrong. Most of the questions will be multiple choice, so you can increase your chances by removing wrong answers!
  4. If you know the right answer, great! If not, have a strategy for guessing. After taking away all the answers you know are wrong, guess either the first or last answer. This can help you improve your test score! Don’t leave any answers blank.
  5. For practice questions, make sure you understand! Read or listen to the feedback on your answer so that you understand the right answer and learn more.

7. Write Practice Essays!

Here are some practice GED writing prompts from the GED Testing Service to help you get started. Make sure you write a complete essay, at least 300 words, with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Answer the question: Which passage makes a better argument? Why? Be sure to use details from the text!

8. Have Someone Read Your Writing

Have a friend, teacher, or family member read what you wrote. Are some parts confusing? What good points did you make? Can they tell what your main idea is? Can they tell that you have a beginning, middle, and end? Some feedback from a reader will help improve your writing!

9. Say It Out Loud!

Reading out loud can help with reading, writing, and language. 

  • Try reading a section of text out loud to see if it helps you understand better. Go slow, and go back to check your understanding. 
  • When you’re writing, try reading your own writing out loud! Does it make sense? How would you say it to a friend? Revise your writing to sound more like someone talking.
  • When you answer a language question, read the answer choices out loud in the full sentence. Which choice sounds right? While a few rules might be tricky, for the most part, what sounds right is right. Don’t overthink. Trust your ear when you’re not sure!

10. Review

When you sit down to study, review what you went over the previous day. A quick review will help yesterday’s learning stick and make your next learning task a little easier. At the end of a week, do a whole-week review to go over what you’ve learned.

What You Need to Know to Pass the GED Language Arts Test (Checklist)

The GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test covers reading, writing, and language in one test. Here’s what you need to know.

Reading for Meaning


  • You need to know how to put events in a text in the order that they happened.
  • You need to know how to make inferences about the events, people, setting, relationships, or ideas in what you read.
  • You need to know how to analyze relationships between people, ideas, and events, and their roles in the text.

Purpose and Point of View

  • You need to be able to identify details and their purpose in a text.
  • You need to figure out the writer’s point of view or purpose, even if it’s not stated outright in the text.
  • You need to analyze the specifics of a writer’s point of view and how a writer response to other people with different opinions.

Words and Phrases

  • You need to know how to analyze how a writer uses rhetorical techniques, like repetition or analogies.
  • You need to figure out the meaning of words and phrases, including figurative language and connotations.
  • You need to know how the writer’s word choice impacts the meaning and tone of the text, and analyze why the author uses specific words.


  • You need to know how sentences, paragraphs, chapters, or sections fit into the structure of the text. What purpose do they serve? How do they support the author’s purpose or create meaning?
  • You need to look at the relationships between two nearby sections of a text.
  • You need to know how to analyze the author’s use of transition or connecting words and phrases.


  • You need to compare texts that have similar themes or topics but different formats or genres.
  • You need to know how to find similarities and differences in perspective, tone, style, structure, purpose, or impact.

Identify and Create Arguments

Main Idea and Details

  • You need to understand the main idea and details in what you read and be able to summarize them or make inferences about them.
  • You need to know how to make inferences about the main idea and details.
  • You need to understand how the details support the author’s purpose, ideas, or point of view.
  • In a story, you need to know how to find the theme and support for the theme.


  • You need to know how to make generalizations, hypotheses, or conclusions based on one or more ideas or pieces of evidence in what you read.
  • You need to know how to apply or extend what you read.

Arguments and Evidence

  • You need to know the parts of an author’s argument and how they work together.
  • You need to identify whether a claim is supported by evidence and identify specific evidence that the author gives.
  • You need to know whether the author gives enough good evidence to support a claim, including identifying fallacies or problems with the writer’s logic.
  • You need to evaluate data, charts, graphs, or images and whether they support an author’s ideas.


  • You need to compare two arguments on the same topic or two similar ideas or themes in different genres or formats.

Grammar and Language

You need to know how to: 

  • choose the correct word among commonly confused words or words that sound alike but are spelled differently.
  • correct errors involving verbs, pronouns, informal language, and modifiers.
  • use parallel structure.
  • use good sentence structure, including independent and dependent clauses, avoiding run-ons and fragments.
  • edit to eliminate wordiness or awkward sentences.
  • use transitional and connecting words and phrases.
  • use capitalization, punctuation, and apostrophes correctly.


You need to: 

  • write a clear and well-organized essay that compares two texts.
  • compare two different arguments about the same topic, citing specific evidence from the text.

10 Ways to Improve Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is a big part of the GED Language Arts test. Here are some easy ways to improve your ability to understand what you read. 

  1. Identify what you don’t understand. Try reading slowly and asking, do I understand what I just read? When you don’t understand, go back and check. What’s giving you a problem? Is it a long sentence that you can break apart? Is something else confusing you? Can you figure it out?
  2. Identify words you don’t know. Sometimes, you can guess the meaning of a sentence without all the words, but it helps to find the words you don’t know. Then, find the definition. Go back and try to understand the sentence or paragraph again. Does the meaning of the word help you understand it better?
  3. Make an outline. A good way to understand what you read is by making an outline. What’s the main idea? What are the important points? Which details are important, and where are they? Make the outline while you read, and then revise and reorganize it after.
  4. Make and organize notes. You don’t always need to make a formal outline. Sometimes, it’s helpful to just make notes about what’s important. The difference here is that you can ask questions and put down your own thoughts. Try writing your thoughts and questions in different colors to keep track! Then, when you’re done reading, reorganize your notes. That will help you understand and remember better.
  5. Identify the structure. Figuring out the structure of a text helps you understand it better. Does it talk about cause and effect? Does it give a problem and then explain a solution? Does it give events in order by time? Does it make a claim and then give reasons?
  6. Ask questions. Try asking questions before you read, while you read, and after you read. Asking questions makes you think about what you’re reading.
  7. Make a diagram. Try making a diagram or chart to compare ideas or show relationships in the text.
  8. Predict. Ask yourself: what do you think will happen next? What’s the writer going to say? Predicting helps you understand what you read.
  9. Visualize. If you’re reading a story or a description, try to imagine what you’re reading about. Creating pictures in your mind will help you understand.
  10. Summarize. Write a summary of the important ideas in the text. If you can pick out the most important ideas and details, you’ll understand the reading better.

Eight GED Essay Tips

The GED essay can seem tough, but it’s not really that hard. Use these tips to write a high scoring essay!

  1. Read the Passages First. Your writing prompt will have two passages. Start by reading through them. What’s the point of view of each writer? What evidence do they give?
  2. Write a Good Beginning. Start by explaining the issue that you read about. Then say which of the two arguments is stronger. Give a general reason why.
  3. Quote from the Text. Find 2 to 3 pieces of evidence or support in each passage that you read. In your essay, quote the evidence and tell which passage it is from. Explain how the writer uses it. Then, tell whether it’s strong or weak and why. Does it help prove the writer’s argument? Why is it good or bad?
  4. Tell Which Passage Has the Most Evidence. Sometimes a writer doesn’t have enough evidence. The passage with more evidence might be stronger.
  5. Point Out Problems. Does one of the passages have flaws or problems? Is the reasoning not logical? Can you think of a way the argument isn’t true? If you don’t agree, point it out! (And be sure to tell why!)
  6. Write a Conclusion. In your conclusion at the end of the essay, restate which passage has a better argument. Summarize your evidence and details.
  7. Write Clearly. If you have trouble writing, don’t try to make it too complicated. Write simple sentences, and make sure it’s easy to understand.
  8. Write Enough. If you have a beginning, a middle with quotes and details, and a conclusion, then you’ve probably written enough. But make sure! Write about 5 paragraphs, with at least 300 words. Otherwise, you need more detail.

Remember to practice using these tips by writing practice essays! Here’s a good way: Find two newspaper articles that disagree about a topic, and write about them for practice.

Online GED Reading and Writing Classes

Are you looking for easy online classes to help you get ready fast? GED Academy provides a quick and easy way to get prepared. GED Academy has three language arts courses:

  • The GED Reading course is filled with lessons that help you read and understand GED-style passages and answer the kinds of questions you’ll find on the GED exam.
  • The GED Language lessons teach you all the grammar and language you’ll need to know for the language questions.
  • The GED Writing course prepares you to write the GED essay. You’ll take easy-to-understand writing lessons and write practice GED essays. You’ll learn everything you need to know in a quick and easy course.

Everyone starts out their GED prep at a different level. GED Academy finds out what you need to know and then gives you the exact lessons that you need to prepare. Our online GED language arts prep course can take as little as three or four weeks. With directed learning, you can be ready to take your GED language arts test right away.

Try studying an hour every night. With short, easy lessons, you can move forward through the GED Academy course quickly. After about 15 or 20 hours of language arts study, you could be ready for the test. Some people need a little more or a little less study, but no matter what your level, GED Academy has the right lessons for you.

GED Academy starts out by giving you a practice test or self-assessment to see what you need to study. Then it gives you a personalized learning plan that leads you through every lesson you need. It’s like having a personal tutor who can recommend the lessons and quizzes that you need right now to get ready quickly.

Are you ready to get started? Take a look at how GED Academy works. 


Leonard Williams, Personal Tutor


Free Resources | Prepare for the GED