How to Put Together a Winning Essay for the GED

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

Some of the key points in the GED essay evaluation include the following list. If you have all these characteristics in your essay, your chances of receiving a high score are pretty good:

  • You’ve read and understood the (two) source item(s) and selected the position that has the best support.

  • Your essay clearly explains why you made your choice, using proof from the source text.

  • Your essay is clearly written and well organized.

  • The evidence you present is developed logically and clearly.

  • You use transitions throughout the essay for a smooth flow among ideas.

  • You use appropriate vocabulary, varied sentence structure, and good grammar and spelling.

Here are a few other tips and ground rules to keep in mind as you prepare for the Extended Response:

  • You have only 45 minutes to write an essay based on a single topic and very specific source text. An essay usually consists of several paragraphs, each of which contains a topic sentence stating a main idea or thought. Be sure each paragraph relates to the overall topic of the essay. And, for the most part, make sure to place a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.

  • You can prepare your essay by using the erasable notepad provided. You’re given this pad at the test site. Use it to make notes and write down your rough work so your final essay is well organized and neat. No one will look at the pad, so what you write on it is just for you.

  • You must write about the topic and only about the topic. You’re graded for writing an essay on the topic, so make sure you really do write on the topic you’re given. One of the easiest ways to fail this test is to write about something that isn’t on topic. The source text presents divergent views. Your job is to analyze, reflect, and respond.

  • The essay tests your ability to write about an issue that has positive and/or negative implications. Whether you agree or disagree with the issue presented is immaterial. The essay doesn’t test how much you know about a given topic or your personal opinions. Rather, it tests your ability to analyze and express yourself in writing.

  • Effective paragraphs use a variety of sentence types: statements, questions, commands, exclamations, and even quotations. Vary your sentence structure and choice of words to spark the readers’ interest. Some sentences may be short, and others may be long to catch the readers’ attention.

  • Paragraphs create interest in several ways: by developing details, using illustrations and examples, presenting events in a time or space sequence, providing definitions, classifying persons or objects, comparing and contrasting, and demonstrating reasons and proof. Organize your paragraphs and sentences in a way that both expresses your ideas and creates interest.

  • The evaluation requires you to express your ideas clearly and logically. Make sure you stick to the topic.