9 Scoring Criteria for the GED Test Extended Responses

By Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth, Achim K. Krull

As you draft your Extended Response (essay) in the Social Studies and Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) tests, keep the following list in mind, which will be used to score your essay. Even though the focus of the RLA and Social Studies Extended Responses are different, writing a quality essay requires the same skills, no matter the topic.

So make sure your essays include the following:

  • A clear thesis statement: You spell out exactly what you want to argue and support your argument with specific points in the source text.

  • Clear evidence of consistency of argument: Your points and supporting evidence show that you clearly understood the source text, and your points are consistent with each other.

  • Arguments stay on topic: Your arguments are all clearly derived from the source text and consistently support your thesis. Although you may use outside knowledge, the bulk of your argument and supporting evidence are based on the source text.

  • Strong supporting evidence: You use multiple points from the source text to support your arguments.

  • Thorough analysis of arguments in source texts: Your essay shows that you understood the arguments in the source text, and you support that understanding with accurate use of evidence from the source text.

  • Logical argument: Your essay shows multiple ideas supporting your thesis, all clearly stated and supported by the source text. Your essay explains the relevance of the points you use as supporting evidence.

  • Logical progression: You present your arguments in a logical sequence. Usually, presenting arguments in order of importance, from least to most, is a reasonable approach.

  • Clear organizational structure: Your essay is well organized, follows a logical structure, and stays on topic throughout.

  • Grammar and style: You use correct grammar and vocabulary in your essay. The tone of the essay is appropriate for the subject matter.

    Keep your choice of words academic and serious. Use appropriate and correct sentence structure and grammar, including such things as subject-verb agreement, proper punctuation and use of vocabulary, transition words between paragraphs and ideas, and proper subordination, parallelism, and varied sentence structure.

One approach to a good argumentative essay is the “sermon” approach. First, tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them. In other words, in the first paragraph, you state your thesis — the point you want to make — and briefly list (without explanation) the supporting evidence from the source text. Then in each subsequent paragraph, you explain each piece of supporting evidence in order of importance, using quotes from the source text and your own analysis. In the final paragraph, you restate your thesis and why indeed that thesis is correct.

When you finish, review your essay for grammar and spelling and make changes as needed (and as time allows).

No one expects you to write a perfect paper. Some errors are expected, but you must keep them to a minimum. The expectation is that you produce a good, first draft−quality essay.