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GED® Test Writing


Introduction

The Language Arts/ Writing multiple-choice section of the GED® exam is the third longest of the test's five sections. It consists of 50 questions that must be answered in seventy-five minutes, giving you approximately 1.5 minutes per multiple-choice question. The multiple-choice questions evaluate the student's ability to revise and edit three basic types of documents, each about 12-22 sentences long. These documents include:

1. Workplace/ Community Oriented Documents. These documents are commonplace in the average adult's everyday environment and are often crucial in an office setting or workplace. These documents may include memos, office reports and summaries, job applications, and other business correspondence.


2. "How To" Texts That Provide Instructions and Directions. These documents are directed at practical skills that require following directions, such as writing a resume, how to behave in a job interview, following transportation directions, making travel arrangements, etc.

3. Informational Texts. These texts focus on topics that are more specific and require a certain amount of analysis. For example, the Information Text section may include critical evaluations, papers and short theses in support of specific causes or political stances, such as the prevention of global warming, anti-censorship laws, etc.

The Language Arts/ Writing PART I section contains literary multiple-choice questions that pertain to paragraphs on the above three types of documents. Each of the questions is based on one of the following three major areas that the GED® tests in this section:

SENTENCE CORRECTION

This category is the most significant portion of the Language Arts Writing Section, making up approximately 45% of all of the section's questions.

These questions are based on the following four content areas:

a) Organization (15%)

  • The student must understand proper placement of sentences within a passage.
  • Students must be able to recognize when sentences do not belong in a passage at all.
  • And finally, students must know when a new paragraph should begin.

b) Sentence Structure (30%)

  • Students must understand how to find errors in sentence construction.
  • Students should be able to form complete sentences.

c) Usage (30%)

  • Students should be able to use the different components of a sentence together correctly.
  • Students must understand the various parts of speech and how to use them properly.
  • Correctly identifying mistakes in verb tenses and agreement, pronoun references, etc., is also important.
  • Students should understand the proper usage of capitalization.
  • It is important to understand rules of punctuation.
  • Finally, the student should be able to understand the rules of possessives, contractions, and homonyms.


These questions may involve an entire text, a single complete paragraph, several sentences, or a single sentence that contains errors. A series of possible corrections for these errors are provided, which correspond to the letters and numbers assigned to each sentence and paragraph of the text.

An example of this type of question is below. First, read the sentence thoroughly, and then read the possible corrections. Finally, pick the answer you believe best corrects the question.

1) In today's charged political climate, its extremely important for everyone to exercise their right to vote.

    1. Change today's to todays
    2. Change the comma after climate to a semi-colon
    3. Change its to it's
    4. Change their to there

The correct choice in this circumstance is #3. “In today's charged political climate it's extremely important for everyone to exercise their right to vote.” The apostrophe in its which shows a contraction of it is has been omitted. Don't forget to check for punctuation errors. Punctuation mistakes are some of the most common errors that the test writers include and should be part of the mental check-list you go through in your initial reading.



SENTENCE REVISION

This type of question comprises approximately 35% of the Language Arts Writing section. The revision questions require you to choose from a list of five possible corrections that correspond to an underlined section of a sentence that may or may not contain an error. In each of these questions, the first choice is always the same as the original sentence. It is important that students be able to recognize that sometimes a revision may not be necessary.

An example of this type of question follows below:

1) By giving my friend, the guitar that he has always wanted I have earned his trust.

a. friend, the guitar that he has always wanted
b. friend the guitar that he has always wanted,
c. friend the guitar, that he has always wanted
d. friend the guitar his always wanted


The correct answer is (b): “By giving my friend the guitar that he has always wanted, I have earned his trust.” The comma inserted after friend is unnecessary, as no pause in the sentence is needed. Unnecessary usage of commas, comma-splices and run-on sentences will be discussed in greater detail later, as these occur frequently on the exam. If you read the sentence again, you will notice that a pause after the word "wanted" does sound natural. A comma should be inserted here. Again, don't worry if you were not able to immediately choose the right answer to this question. If you missed this one, re-read the sentence and try the process of elimination.


CONSTRUCTION SHIFT

This section makes up the smallest portion of this section - 20% or approximately 10 out of the 50 questions. The construction shift questions include a sentence or group of sentences that the student will be required to rewrite in order to create a sentence that is more clear and concise. The candidate must be able to accomplish this through a revising of the sentence's original structure. The student will be presented with 5 different choices to choose from.


These questions require the student to use his or her writing skills to analyze a sentence or paragraph, break it down, and reorganize it completely if necessary. Students must be able to combine passages, shift paragraphs, and add new sentences in the process. In addition, the Construction Shift section also tests a student's understanding of sequence of events and his or her ability to communicate effectively through writing.

Below is an example of this type of question:

1) You may want to save money to buy a cat, a dog, or an iguana. You might want to buy a guinea pig. Which of the following would be the most effective way to combine a group of words for sentences three and four?

a. save money for animals
b. save for buying a cat, dog, or an assortment of other animals
c. save money to buy a cat, dog, iguana, or guinea pig.
d. Accumulate a savings for pets

The correct answer to question three is answer (c). “You may want to save money to buy a cat, dog, iguana, or guinea pig.” This answer choice is the most direct and clear and doesn't leave out any information or repeat itself.

d) Mechanics (25%)

Writing Lessons

  1. Writing Section 1
  2. Most Commonly Misspelled GED® Words
  3. Lesson 1
  4. Lesson 2
  5. Lesson 3
  6. Summary
  7. Practice Test
  8. Writing Section 2
  9. Sample Essay Questions
  10. Writing Section 2: Summary

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