How to Structure Your Argument for the GED RLA Extended Response

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

You can structure your GED Reasoning Through Language Arts Extended Response in any number of ways. Every writer has a favorite. You’ve probably heard of the hamburger, pyramid, and inverted pyramid models. You can find plenty of information about those models online. You may want to try the formula essay, which is a variation of another common model, the five-paragraph essay. Here’s the formula (outline), with each item in the list representing a paragraph:

  • Introduction with thesis statement and, possibly, evidence preview: This paragraph is where you state your position, typically identifying the passage that makes the stronger case and briefly stating why. The paragraph may also include a preview of the evidence or other introductory material to let the reader know what’s coming next.

  • Premise 1 with supporting evidence: State your first premise and follow up with two or three sentences of supporting detail, based primarily on the evidence presented in the two passages.

  • Premise 2 with supporting evidence: State your second premise and follow up with two or three sentences of supporting detail, based primarily on the evidence presented in the two passages.

  • Additional premise with supporting evidence (optional): If you have additional evidence, state the premise drawn from that evidence along with a sentence or two of supporting detail.

  • Acknowledgement and refutation of opposing viewpoint: To convince a reader of a particular point of view, you must anticipate and address any rebuttals (counterarguments) to your argument. Because you’re not in the reader’s mind to respond to rebuttals, you must address them in your essay. You don’t get a second chance.

    So just before you wrap up your essay, acknowledge at least one opposing viewpoint and refute it, preferably with evidence to show why the opposing viewpoint is wrong. Here’s where your notes come in handy. If you noticed any logical errors that form the basis of the opposing viewpoint, introduce them here.

  • Conclusion with restatement of thesis and, possibly, evidence recap: Wrap it up. Restate your thesis in a

Draft an outline for your formula essay starting with the thesis statement.

Thesis statement: ____________________________________________________________

Premise 1: ____________________________________________________________

Premise 2: ____________________________________________________________

Additional premise: ____________________________________________________________

Opposing viewpoint: ____________________________________________________________

Conclusion: ____________________________________________________________

Putting your main points in logical order

In your opening paragraph, after your thesis statement, you presented your points in a logical order. Whether that order was in ascending or descending order of importance is a matter of personal preference, although most examiners prefer an ascending order. That builds involvement and anticipation, just like a growing crescendo in music.

If you followed our process for writing a formula essay, your main points should be in logical order, but double-check the outline you produced to be sure. Focus especially on your premises, paragraphs 2, 3, and 4. Your thesis statement will remain at the beginning, your conclusion will stay at the end, and your second-to-last paragraph, where you address the opposing viewpoint, won’t move. The only three main points you need to concern yourself with are your premises.

Building your arguments

Each paragraph in the body of your Extended Response essay deals with a single point. Structure each paragraph like a miniature essay. The first sentence in each paragraph is the topic sentence, a statement identifying the point to be discussed in that paragraph. The rest of the paragraph must support that main point. Supporting details may include evidence, facts from the passage, and even relevant passage quotations.