How to Prepare for the GED Social Studies Extended Response

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

The Extended Response on the GED Social Studies test is similar to the one on the Reasoning through Language Arts (RLA) test. The major difference between this Extended Response and the one for the RLA test is length. The RLA test gives you 45 minutes to write the Extended Response, and you’re expected to write about 600 to 800 words

The Social Studies Extended Response allocates only 25 minutes, so the stimulus text is shorter, and you’re expected to write only about 250 to 500 words.

For the Social Studies Extend Response item, you’re given sample source texts presenting and defending a particular position. You must read and analyze each source text and write an essay based on that text. You’re asked to discuss the source texts in terms of presenting an enduring issue in American history and society.

You must use quotes from the source documents to support your argument. You may also use your own personal knowledge to support your arguments. Read the instructions carefully. Write the key words down on your tablet to ensure you don’t misread. As you prepare your answer, go back to the basic question and make sure you’re staying on topic and that all of your answering points relate to that topic.

Because the GED test is now administered on the computer, you’ll also use the computer’s word processor to write your response. The word processor has all the functions you’d expect — copy, paste, do, and undo — however, it doesn’t include either a grammar-checker or a spell-checker. That is part of your job.

The evaluation looks at three specific areas of essay writing:

  • Creation of argument and use of evidence:

    • Your argument must show not only that you understand the arguments being presented but also that you understand the relationship between the ideas presented and their historical or social context.

    • You must effectively use relevant ideas from the source text to back your arguments.

  • Development of ideas and organizational structure:

    • Your arguments develop logically and clearly.

    • You connect details and main ideas.

    • You explain details as required to further your argument.

  • Clarity and command of standard English:

    • You use proper English.

    • You demonstrate a command of proper writing conventions.

    • You show correct usage of subject-verb agreement, homonyms, capitalization, punctuation, and proper word order.

To prepare for the Extended Response item, read, read, and then read some more. Look for magazine and newspaper editorials. Look for documentaries on television, DVD, or even online about such issues in American history.

For example, look for a documentary on school bussing in the 1950s. List the issues surrounding the decision to bus pupils in one area to schools in another area. Consider the issues of personal freedom, the rights to choose, and civil liberties in a larger community sense

Look at the changing views on the role of government in our daily lives. What forces drove decision making at that time? How were those decisions a reflection of their times, and to what extent do similar views and decisions still apply today?