How to Draw Conclusions for the GED RLA

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

On the GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test, you’re expected to identify and analyze the relationships between ideas. When a text presents two or more ideas, they’re related ultimately lead you to arrive at a certain conclusion.

Ideas and events that are related ultimately lead you to draw a certain conclusion, the final step in the analytical process. The author may state the conclusion directly, making your job as reader easy, or more subtly present details that lead you to draw the conclusion for yourself.

In some instances, you must come to a conclusion based on information presented. Often, text has an unstated underlying message, as in the following passage from “History of the CIA” at the CIA’s website:

In July 1941, [President] Roosevelt appointed Donovan as the Coordinator of Information (COI) to direct the nation’s first peacetime, nondepartmental intelligence organization. But America’s entry into World War II that same December prompted new thinking about the role of the COI. The result was the formation of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in June 1942. The mandate of the OSS was to collect and analyze strategic information required by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and to conduct special operations not assigned to other agencies.

During the war, the OSS supplied policymakers with intelligence that played an important role in positively aiding military campaigns. The OSS shared jurisdiction over foreign intelligence activities with the FBI. (The FBI had been responsible for this work in Latin America since 1940.) Meanwhile, the military branches conducted intelligence operations in their areas of responsibility.

As World War II wound down with the American and allied victory, there was sentiment throughout the United States to return to normalcy and demobilize wartime agencies quickly, agencies like the OSS. Donovan’s civilian and military rivals feared he might win his campaign to create a peacetime intelligence service modeled on the OSS. But President Harry S. Truman, who succeeded Roosevelt in April 1945, felt no obligation to the OSS after the war.

Technically abolished in October 1945, the OSS’s analysis, collection, and counterintelligence services were transferred to the State and War departments, but on a much smaller scale.

Which of these conclusions is the most accurate?

  • (A) The OSS wasn’t an effective espionage agency.

  • (B) The decision of one president isn’t binding on another.

  • (C) Politicians feared spy agencies.

  • (D) When WWII ended, the OSS was no longer needed.

The best conclusion to draw from this example is Choice (B). The passage states that Truman felt no obligation to the OSS even though the previous president had established it. Choice (A) is incorrect because nothing suggests that the OSS was ineffective. Choice (C) may be partially true, but the text states that rivals, not politicians in general, feared the continuation of the OSS. Finally, nothing in the text either refutes or supports Choice (D), so it too is unacceptable.