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Language Arts, Writing Section I

First, Become Familiar With the Language Arts Directions:
It is crucial to become familiar with the test directions now so that when you are faced with the actual test there will be no surprises and you will be prepared to do your absolute best. The following is an example of the kinds of directions that you will find at the beginning of the Language Arts/ Writing I Section.


The Language Arts Writing Test below will gauge your ability to employ lucid and effective Standard Written English. The test consists of 50 multiple-choice questions and one timed 45 minute essay. The directions below apply only to the multiple-choice section; the timed essay will follow with separate directions.

The multiple-choice section includes passages of text with numbered sentences and lettered paragraphs. Many of the paragraphs contain mistakes in their language usage, sentence structure, punctuation and capitalization. First, read the numbered sentences, and then proceed by answering the multiple-choice questions that follow. Some of the sentences may contain no errors. If this is the case, the proper choice for the question is the answer that leaves the sentence unchanged. Some questions may require you to choose an answer that uses a different verb tense or point of view that will make the sentence more consistent with the rest of the paragraph. Often a passage will be repeated to allow for additional questions to be asked on the following page. A repeated passage will be exactly the same as the original.

There will be 120 minutes allowed to complete the test. Spend only 75 minutes of the test on the 50 questions of Section 1 and leave 45 minutes to complete the essay. Do NOT spend too much time on any one question, work carefully, and answer every question. You will not be penalized for incorrect answers so do not leave any of the multiple choice questions blank. You will be allowed to begin working on Section II, the essay question, as soon as you have finished Section I.

Do not leave your answers on the test booklet; remember to record all of your answers on the separate answer sheet that has been provided. Check to make sure that all of the required information per question is included. To record your answers properly, carefully fill in the lettered circle that corresponds to the answer that you have selected for each question in the exam booklet.

If you decide to change an answer, make sure that you have completely erased your original mark. Do not make any extra marks on the answer sheet and mark only one answer per question or your answer will be scored as incorrect. Do not fold the answer sheet, and remember to return all test materials to your test administrator.


When you begin the exam:

In each of the sections there may be obvious mistakes in punctuation, grammar, spelling, and capitalization. When you do notice any obvious errors, physically mark these on your test booklet - you can be sure that there will be questions about these sentences later. Making note of anything you notice that doesn't look right will prove to be of help to you later on.

The Language Arts Writing test is often predictable, in that specific rules get tested with much more frequency than others. There are several clues that can help you to recognize the errors that are the GED® test writers' favorites and that are used regularly. With practice, you will be able to find these errors and improve your test scores substantially. The errors may involve spelling, capitalization, subject-verb agreement, punctuation, or any number of other literary devices, so you should be ready to deal with a variety of problems. As you read through the test passages, it is a good idea to go through a mental checklist of the errors that you know to be common and to make note of any of these “common” mistakes that you come across. Memorizing the most frequently used language arts errors (or at least becoming familiar with them) will help you use your time wisely and is a useful trick that can be applied to the other sections of the exam. By recognizing these commonly used errors, you will save a lot of time that may be spent checking your answers. This elimination technique will narrow down your answer choices significantly and will make the correct option easier to spot.

The following section briefly lists some important hints that will help you to immediately spot faulty answer choices and to narrow down your list of possible answers. Following this section on “hints” is a group of lessons that details the actual material that will be covered in the Language Arts Writing Section Part One. Following these will be several sample questions you answer for practice. Each of the sections of this study guide will be divided in this manner - with an introduction to the section and its basic structure, a list of strategies to help you eliminate faulty choices and spot possible test areas, a detailed lesson of the material covered, and finally, a brief sampling of questions that will help familiarize you with format.


Answer choices often contain valuable clues:

Although you may not immediately recognize an error once you have initially read through a passage, don't panic. There are several ways in which you can strategically sort through the answer choices and then decide upon the choice that is most likely to be correct. The various answer choices often provide extraordinarily helpful clues that will help you to eliminate the other incorrect choices and increase the chances of improving your score.

Read through the passage once (this is important, as you will need it for reference) and then carefully read through the answers. If none of the answers strikes you as incorrect, don't despair - you can work backwards from the choices. Try focusing on the answer choices rather than on the passage - you want to avoid spending too much time trying to understand the passage completely since there are five common clues often found in the answers themselves. For example, questions that are based on the revision category are especially well suited for this type of elimination process. In the revision section, the answer choices simply provide you with slight word variations on the same sentence. Though the differences may appear minor, the sentence revision answers provided can change the paragraph's meaning in a drastic way, and the correct revision is often easy to spot by quickly reading through the answer choices. An example, which falls under the “Sentence Correction” section of the exam, is provided below:

Sentence 1: When you cross the street, one should look both ways.

1. Change cross to crosses
2. Place a semi-colon after street
3. Change look to looks
4. Change one to you
5. No change is necessary

In this type of Sentence Correction question, you must decide which of the five answer choices repairs the sentence by eliminating the error. In this case, the correct answer is number 4. The pronoun "you" does not correspond with the pronoun "one." Therefore, you must change "one" to "you."

It is always possible that there will be nothing wrong with the sentence to begin with. This can sometimes be confusing because it is our natural inclination to believe that if there is a question about sentence structure (or any of the other categories), something must be wrong with the sentence. However, never rule out the possibility that the sentence is fine the way it is. An additional item to note is that the answer choices are always listed in the order that they appear in the question. The first option for a sentence change will refer to the first part of the sentence, the second and third will refer to the middle of the sentence, and so on.

As a result, if you recognize a mistake in a sentence, you can skip to the answer choice that corresponds to the section where you found the mistake.

Remember that it is important to keep in mind that one of the answer questions will always be correct. If you are experiencing a lot of difficulty finding the correct answer, read through the question once more (if you have time) and substitute each of the answer choices into the sentence to determine if one of the answers intuitively feels more correct than the others. If, when you read the sentence with one of the answers inserted into it, it “sounds” better, then it is likely the correct choice. Often, your initial instinct in sentence reconstruction is correct. Once you have recognized that a question is focused on construction then you can immediately ignore any of the answers that have to do with mechanics and usage.

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