Tips for Fixing Awkward Sentences for the GED RLA

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

Awkward sentences are difficult to read and understand. The GED Reasoning Through Language Arts test looks or writing that avoids awkward sentences. They can be unnecessarily complex and may contain faulty parallelism, passive voice, misused words, and empty phrases. When you are presented with an awkward sentence to correct on the test, try to read it aloud in your inner voice.

If the sentence trips you up as you read it or you have to read it several times to grasp its meaning, you’re looking at an awkward sentence. Long sentences are easy to spot and correct: Remove any unnecessary words and phrases. Spotting and correcting other issues may be more challenging.

Practice your skills. Choose the correct version of each of the following sentences. Note that Choice (A) is the same as the original version.

  1. You should take this test when you have finished studying and when feeling better.

    • (A) You should take this test when you have finished studying and when feeling better.

    • (B) You should take this test when you have finished studying and if feeling better.

    • (C) You should take this test when you have finished studying and when you will feel better.

    • (D) You should take this test when you have finished studying and are feeling better.

  2. The girls loved reading, to dance, and the movies.

    • (A) The girls loved reading, to dance, and the movies.

    • (B) The girls loved to read, dance, and watch movies.

    • (C) The girls loved reading, dancing, and watching movies.

    • (D) Choices (B) and (C) are both correct.

  3. It can be seen from the report that in this case repairs should be made with all due haste.

    • (A) It can be seen from the report that in this case repairs should be made with all due haste.

    • (B) It can be seen from this report that these repairs are urgent.

    • (C) The report states that in this case repairs are needed urgently.

    • (D) The report states these repairs are urgent.

  4. Flying down the hill, the visitors admired the skiers.

    • (A) Flying down the hill, the visitors admired the skiers.

    • (B) The visitors admired the skiers flying down the hill.

    • (C) The visitors, flying down the hill, admired the skiers.

    • (D) none of the above

  5. Recently, scientists stumbled upon a discovery of a virus that has a negative effect on human cognition.

    • (A) Recently, scientists stumbled upon a discovery of a virus that has a negative effect on human cognition.

    • (B) Scientists recently stumbled upon a discovery of a virus that negatively affects human cognition.

    • (C) Recently, scientists discovered a virus that diminishes human cognition.

    • (D) Scientists recently discovered a virus that has a negative effect on human cognition.

Check your answers:

  1. The correct answer is Choice (D) because it creates two parallel clauses: “when you have finished studying” and “when [you] are feeling better.”

    Choice (A) is the original, which is wrong because “you have finished studying” and “feeling better” aren’t parallel. Choice (B) simply introduces a new error by changing when to if. Choice (C) introduces a new error by bringing in the future tense (will).

  2. Choice (D) is correct.

    The original sentence is an example of faulty parallelism because each item in the series is in a different form.

  3. Choice (D) is your best choice.

    “It can be seen,” “in this case,” and “all due haste” are wordy and unnecessary. Choice (D) is the clearest, shortest, and most direct version of the sentence.

  4. Choice (B) is your best choice.

    The best choice has to explain who or what was flying down the hill. Because the phrase refers to the skiers, not the visitors, that phrase needs to be closest to the noun skiers.

  5. Choice (C) is best.

    Not surprisingly, it’s also the shortest version.