What Skills Do I Need for the GED RLA Extended Response Portion?

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

The evaluation of your GED RLA essay focuses on three major criteria or skills. By having a clear understanding of the main skills covered in this part of the test, you can ensure that you address all of them when writing your essay — that will translate into success in terms of your essay score. The GED Testing Service defines the three essay criteria you need to address as follows:

  • Creation of argument and use of evidence: This criterion refers to how well you answer the topic, including whether the focus of the response shifts as you write. Stay on topic.

  • Development and organizational structure: This criterion refers to whether you show the reader through your essay that you have a clear idea about what you’re writing and that you’re able to establish a definable plan for writing the essay. The evaluation expects that you’ll present your arguments in a logical sequence and back those arguments with specific supporting evidence from the source text.

    You must use specific detail from the source texts; you can elaborate, but your answer must be based on the source text.

  • Clarity and command of standard English conventions: This criterion refers to your ability to appropriately use what the GED Testing Service calls “on-demand, draft writing.” That includes the application of the basic rules of grammar, such as sentence structure, mechanics, usage, and so forth. It’s also looking for stylistic features, such as transitional phrases, varied sentence structure, and appropriate word choices.

The evaluation grades your essay on a three-point scale. You receive 2, 1, or 0 points, depending on your success in these three categories. You can check out a guide for teachers on the RLA Extended Response. Here, you can see a sample essay prompt and breakdown of how it’s evaluated. It includes a very detailed look at the criteria and what the evaluators look for in an essay.

Read the sections on what constitutes a passing score very carefully. If you don’t pass the essay, you probably won’t accumulate a high enough score on the other sections to pass the RLA test, and that means you’ll have to retake the entire test.