Writing Strategies Study Guide: Pre-GED Language Arts, Writing (page 2)
The practice quiz for this study guide can be found at:
This article covers GED writing tips and strategies that will help you be successful on exam day. You'll learn to recognize and correct errors in sentence structure, usage, mechanics, and organization, as well as identify the purpose of various parts of an essay.
The GED Language Arts, Writing Exam is composed of two parts: a multiple choice test and a written essay. You have to pass both parts to pass the writing exam. Don't let that get you worried—the good news is that preparing for one part helps you to prepare for the other. And of course, the more you practice the better your score will likely be on both parts of the exam.
The previous chapters have provided you with the core writing information you will need to succeed on the GED Language Arts, Writing Exam. In this chapter, we will briefly review what you have learned. The topics covered include:
- sentence structure
- writing an effective essay
In addition to reviewing what you've learned so far, we will also go over some new GED tips and strategies. Together with the information provided in the last six chapters, these proven tools for exam success will help you prepare for and excel on test day.
Sentence structure basically refers to the order and use of words in sentences. The simple sentence He eats a burger is written with good structure; all the words are in order and the sentence makes sense. The sentence A he burger eats contains the same words, but does not display good structure.
Sentence structure questions on the GED will be a little more difficult than the previous example, but they will be based on the same idea: that there are rules in English which govern where words should be placed in a sentence and how they are used. It's important for you to know what these rules are. The following rules are likely to pop up on part I of the GED Writing Exam.
Subjects and Predicates
The subject is who or what is doing the action in the sentence; the predicate is the verb and everything that comes after it. For example, consider the following sentence:
Only geeks like tests.
In this sentence, geeks is the subject and like tests is the predicate.
A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate. For example, the phrase when I go to lunch is a clause because it contains a subject (I) and a predicate (go to lunch). The phrase to lunch contains no subject and no verb, so it is not a clause.
There are two different kinds of clauses: independent and dependent. An independent clause is a complete sentence, whereas a dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence.
The phrase when I go to lunch is a dependent clause because it does not express a complete thought. Whatever the rest of the thought is, it's definitely necessary to make when I go to lunch a complete sentence.
Because people often speak in incomplete sentences, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a dependent clause and an independent clause. Fortunately, there are a number of clue words that generally come at the beginning of a phrase and tip us off that it's a dependent clause. (The technical name for these clue words is subordinating conjunctions.)
Here are some examples of clue words, or subordinating conjunctions:
Memorize a few of these clue words each day, and by the time you take the test you should be able to recognize a dependent clause pretty easily.
Fragments and Run-ons
A fragment is a part of a sentence, or an incomplete sentence. A run-on is two or more sentences stuck together without proper punctuation. On the GED, fragments will often be dependent clauses, as in the previous example, and you'll be able to recognize them using clue words. At other times they will simply be groups of words lacking either a subject or a predicate. Look for a subject and a predicate in each sentence. If you can't find one, it's a fragment.
On the GED, a run-on often shows up in the form of two independent clauses joined by a comma, instead of separated by a period. For example, you might see a sentence like this:
She agreed to marry him, that made him happy.
There are two complete thoughts here: she agrees to marry him, and that made him happy. They should be two separate sentences, as follows:
She agreed to marry him. That made him happy.
There are a number of words that people commonly mistake for coordinating conjunctions, but which actually require a separate sentence. If you come across any of these words on a GED test question, it's a good chance that you're looking at a run-on:
Active and Passive Voice
Active and passive voice refers to the way you write about the subject and verb. If the subject is known and is doing the action, it's an active voice. If the subject is unknown or is not doing the action, it's a passive voice.
This concept is much easier to understand with an example. Look at the following sentence:
Barry hit the ball.
Barry is the subject and he's the one doing the action. That means the sentence is written in an active voice. What if we write the following:
The ball was hit by Barry.
Now the ball is the subject, but it's not doing anything; something is being done to it. The subject is no longer active, so the sentence is written in a passive voice.
Generally speaking, you should use the active voice, rather than the passive voice, when you write. The GED will likely include some questions that test your ability to identify the passive voice and to change it to an active voice.
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