GED Preparation: How to Study for the Essay Portion of the GED

While study techniques are relatively clear-cut for a subject such as math, preparing to take the extended response portion of the GED requires a bit more consideration.

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GED Scoring and Eligibility

The GED test is a measurement of high school level skills and understanding in four different areas of knowledge: mathematics, reasoning through language arts (which includes an essay), science and social studies. The test score in each area requires a 145 passing score for each individual subject area and a combined score of no less than 580.

To be eligible to take the exam you must be at least 16 years old and not currently be enrolled in high school or be a high school graduate. State requirements also differ in regards to residency, age and length of time since being enrolled in high school so be sure to check your local GED testing centers for more information about specific requirements for your area.

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GED Extended Response Study Tips

The best way to prepare for the math portion of the GED is by practicing problems, and you can study for social studies by simply memorizing the information you're expected to know. But what about the extended response portion of the GED? This score is more subjective, meaning there is no distinct right or wrong answer to consider when verifying your work. There are, however, a few suggested study tips that can make performing well on this portion of the exam easier! Here are a few:

1. Read, read, read. It's true that good writers are often great readers. By reading more often, you'll broaden your vocabulary, reinforce long-forgotten grammatical rules and generally learn to identify quality writing. You'll also encounter creative ways to present ideas and information. While reading novels can help you improve your overall writing skills, reading articles will teach you how to present different types of information in a more structured and briefer way. There are also all sorts of different types of articles, from scientific in nature to feature stories, so you'll be able to evaluate a broad range of resources.

2. Write often and write well. Take a bit of time each day to simply write, even if only in journal format. You will not only be forced to draw on your writing skills, but you will also learn to write more quickly and naturally. Make each sentence count - don't allow yourself to be lazy with your language just because your work won't be graded or judged. Practice good grammar and spelling all the time, and look up how to handle certain punctuation or grammar conventions, etc., if you're unsure. Remember, time counts on test day.

3. Use spelling and grammar checkers. We've become spoiled by these clever devices, which not only tell us when we've made a mistake, but offer to fix it for us. Use these tools to identify when you've made an error of some sort, but take serious note of how to go about fixing it. These convenient checkers won't be available to you on test day, so learn how to handle spelling and grammar on your own. Keep in mind, however, that not all spelling and grammar checkers are without fault. If the information yours provides seems incorrect, be sure to research the proper way to handle the situation.

4. Create your own essay topics, or ask a friend to help. Perhaps you could read a magazine article and write a brief essay supporting or arguing against the author's point. Friends may also be able to give you topic suggestions. It's best to practice writing a wide variety of essays dealing with both those issues you are comfortable with as well as those you aren't. Test yourself - it's not worth it to take the easy route.

5. Ask a knowledgeable, not to mention honest friend to critique your work. Allow somebody who really knows their stuff to look through your work and offer their suggestions for improvement. Be sure to ask him/her what you did well as well.

Need help preparing for the GED? Check out Study.com's GED Test Prep study guides, complete with bite-size video lessons, practice tests, informational resources, and more to make sure you ace the exam!

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