How to Identify and Prepare for Nonfiction Passages on the GED RLA Test

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

To fully prepare yourself for test day, you will want to become familiar with the types of questions you will face GED RLA test. On the reading comprehension portion, you may be faced with nonfiction passages.

Nonfiction passages may come from many different sources. Here’s a list of some of the kinds of passages you may see, and of course, answer questions about:

  • Critical reviews of visual and performing arts: These prose passages are reviews written by people who have enough knowledge of the visual or performing arts to be critical of them. You can find examples of good critical reviews in the library, in some daily papers, and on the Internet. Type in “critical review” into a search engine, and you’ll get more critical reviews than you have time to read.

    To prepare for this part of the test, try to read critical reviews of books, movies, restaurants, and the like as often as you can. The next time you go to a movie, write your own critical review. Put some factual material into your review and make suggestions for improvement. Compare what the real critics have to say with your own feelings about the movie, television show, or play.

  • Nonfiction prose: Nonfiction prose is prose that covers a lot of ground — and all the ground is real. Nonfiction prose is material that the author doesn’t create in his or her own mind — it’s based on fact or reality. Newspaper articles are an example of nonfiction prose.

  • Workplace and community documents: You run across these types of passages in the job- and community-related areas of life. The following are some examples:

    • Corporate statements: Companies and organizations issue rules for employee behavior, rules for hiring and firing, goals for the corporation, even statements about corporate rules on environmental stewardship. These tell the world what the company intends to accomplish and what the basic rules of behavior within the company are. The goal statement for your study group may be: “We’re all going to pass the GED test on our first attempt.”

    • Historic documents, founding documents, legal documents: These could include extracts from the Constitution or other founding documents, extracts from treaties, or legal documents. The founding and historical documents are obviously older materials, with a somewhat different writing style from what you may see in a modern legal document.

      Other documents may include leases, purchase contracts, and bank statements. If you aren’t familiar with these kinds of documents, collect some examples from banks or libraries and review them. Have a look at the terms in your lease, mortgage, or credit card statement. If you can explain these types of documents to a friend, you understand them.

    • Letters: You certainly know what a letter is: a written communication between two people. It’s not very often that you get to read other people’s letters without getting into trouble — here’s your chance.

    • Manuals: Every time you invest in a major purchase, you get a users’ manual that tells you how to use the item. Some manuals are short and straightforward; others are so long and complicated that the manufacturers put them on CD-ROMs to save printing costs.

Regardless of what type of passage the questions in the reading component are based on, you have two challenges. The first is grammar. Grammar doesn’t change with the type of passage, so, although you should be familiar with the various types of passages, you need to be most familiar with the rules of grammar so you can use them to improve the passages. The second is reading skills.