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GED® Test Reading


The Language Arts Reading Test is comprised of 40 multiple-choice questions that measure your ability to comprehend and interpret workplace and academic reading selections, as well as how to apply those interpretations to new contexts. You will have 65 minutes to complete this section of the exam. The questions will ask you to understand, apply, analyze, and synthesize the information that you are given in the reading selections.

Literary texts make up 75% of each test and include at least one selection from each of the following areas:

  • Poetry
  • Drama
  • Prose fiction before 1920
  • Prose fiction between 1920 and 1960
  • Prose fiction after 1960

Nonfiction texts constitute 25% of each test and include two selections of nonfiction prose from any two of the following areas:

  • Nonfiction prose
  • Critical review of visual and performing arts
  • Workplace and community documents, such as mission and goal statements, rules for employee behavior, legal documents, and communications (for example, letters and excerpts from manuals)

The reading selections in the Language Arts Reading Test range in length from 200 to 400 words, while the poetry selections are usually 8 to 25 lines. A “purpose question” appears in bold before each selection; the question is designed solely to help you focus and provide a purpose for reading the text. You are not asked to answer the purpose question. Each selection is followed by four to eight questions.


The content of the GED® Language Arts Reading Test reflects the variety of texts that a high school student would encounter. For each test, 75% of the passages are literary texts, and 25% are nonfiction texts. The texts and authors that you should expect to see on a high school examination or use for a critical review in a high school classroom will be included. Sources for the literary text of the GED® Language Arts Reading Test reflect a commitment to quality writing from writers of recognized stature. This means that many of the passages will be from classic novels, as well as non-canonized works by recognized authors that provide greater breadth of social awareness. Texts are also chosen to reflect the variety of experiences of the general population, without giving undue attention to any particular group’s experiences.

Each test is constructed with this diversity in mind so that no one person feels excluded or advantaged by the set of texts within any given reading test.


The multiple-choice questions on the GED® Language Arts Reading Test are constructed to test the four basic cognitive skills:

  • Comprehension: 20%
  • Application: 15%
  • Analysis: 30-35%
  • Synthesis: 30-35%

Comprehension questions (20%) measure your ability to extract basic meaning and the intent of the writing. This question type can refer to specific parts of the text or to the text as a whole. You will need to:

  • Restate or paraphrase information
  • Summarize main ideas
  • Explain the clear implications of the text

Application questions (15%) measure your ability to use information and ideas from a text in a situation that is different from the one described. This type of question measures your ability to transfer concepts and principles from the reading text to a new context.

Analysis questions (30-35%) measure your ability to break down information into basic elements and can require multiple or complex references. Analysis questions generally refer to specific parts of a passage. You will need to:

  • Draw conclusions, understand consequences, and make inferences
  • Identify elements of style and structure (by concept, not by literary term) and identify the use of different techniques, like: tone, word usage, characterization, use of detail and example, and figurative language
  • Identify cause and effect relationships
  • Distinguish conclusions from supporting statements and recognize unstated assumptions

Synthesis questions (30-35%) measure your ability to put elements together to form a whole. Synthesis questions require multiple inferences that draw on many parts of the text. Although synthesis often implies the integration of information from multiple sources into a new whole, synthesis, for the purpose of the GED® Language Arts Reading Test, also refers to integrating information from many parts of a single selection. You will need to:

  • Interpret the organizational structure or pattern of a text
  • Interpret the overall tone, point of view, style, or purpose of a work
  • Make connections among parts of the text
  • Compare and contrast
  • Integrate information from outside the passage with elements within the passage

Reading Lessons

  1. Reading Tips
  2. Reading Lesson 1
  3. Reading Lesson 2
  4. Reading Lesson 3
  5. Reading Summary
  6. Reading Practice Test

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