Writing Exam Overview: GED Test Prep (page 2)
To prepare effectively for the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam, you need to know exactly what the test is like. This article explains the structure of the exam, including the types of questions and passages you will see on the test.
What to Expect on the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam
As you know, the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam has two parts. Part I consists of 50 multiple-choice questions that measure your knowledge in four key writing areas:
- sentence structure—30%
You will have 75 minutes to complete this part of the test. Each question will have five options; only one will be correct.
Because there's a lot more to writing an effective essay than good grammar or logical organization, and because effective writing is essential if you are to succeed in college or in the workplace, the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam also includes an essay. Part II consists of one essay topic. You will have 45 minutes to write an essay in response to that prompt.
A lot of people are intimidated by essay exams. After all, you are being asked to write well under pressure, and if you don't pass the essay exam, you don't pass the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam. But there is some good news about this part of the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam. For one thing, the essay doesn't have to be long. In fact, because you have only 45 minutes, you are only expected to write about five paragraphs. (In contrast, most college-level essays are expected to be at least three to five pages!) For another, you are given only one essay prompt. That means you don't have to spend any time deciding which question to answer. You only have to decide how you will answer that question.
In addition, no matter what writing prompt you get, you will be able to answer the question. All of the essay topics are general enough for anyone to write about. None of them will require you to have any kind of specialized knowledge or experience.
If you finish your essay in less than 45 minutes, you can return to Part I for the remainder of the test time. This can give you the opportunity to double-check your answers, especially those where you guessed at the answer.
Questions in Context
Unlike many other standardized English exams, the questions on Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam do not test writing knowledge and skills in isolation. Instead, all questions are asked in context. You may be used to seeing grammar or usage tests with questions like the following:
Identify the correct spelling of the word below:
On the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam, however, each question refers to specific words, sentences, or paragraphs taken from a complete passage. All of the questions in the pretest use this format, and you can expect all of the questions in Part I to look like this as well:
Sentence 8: Be sure to be honest and not embellish the truth in you are resume.
Which correction should be made to sentence 8?
- Change Be sure to Make it sure.
- Insert a comma after honest.
- Change honest to honesty.
- Replace you are with your.
- Change be honest to being honest.
(The correct answer for both examples is d.)
To answer this kind of question, you will often need to read and understand the entire sentence and often surrounding sentences as well. A smaller portion of the questions will require you to read and understand the surrounding paragraphs in order to select the correct answer. You may also need a sense of the author's purpose and writing strategies. This is especially true of revision questions that ask you to find the best place for sentences or decide the best place to start a new paragraph.
Kinds of Passages
On Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam, questions will be drawn from reading passages that are between 200–300 words and 12–22 sentences long. Most passages will have three to five paragraphs. Part I will have three different types of reading passages:
- informational, with topics such as home computers, recreational activities, historical events, family matters, health, and careers
- business communications, such as memos, letters, reports, meeting minutes, e-mails, applications, and executive summaries
- how-to documents that provide directions or instructions on matters such as finding a job, acing an interview, buying a computer, choosing a college, etc.
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