1 Write Smart 373 What Is the GED Essay Like? On the GED essay, you ll need to write a short essay, about four or five paragraphs long. The GED essay gives you a prompt that asks you to talk about your beliefs or something from your life. You won t need to know anything special or obscure. The goal of the GED essay is to learn whether you can write a basic essay and communicate your own ideas, not whether you have any particular special knowledge. Understanding what the essay readers expect from you is the first and most important step to passing the GED essay. If you understand what the GED essay readers want, you ll be able to write a solid GED essay.
2 374 Write Smart How Is the GED Essay Scored? The GED essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 4. You only need to score a 2 to pass, but your GED essay score will affect your whole GED writing score. If you score a 2 on the essay, you ll have to do much better on the multiple choice questions to pass than if you score a 3 or 4 on the essay. Since it s easier to improve your score on the essay than on the multiple choice section of the writing test, learning how to write a great GED essay is definitely worthwhile. The GED essay is scored on five qualities: Response to Prompt: Did I answer the GED question and stay on topic? Your most important task on the GED essay is to really answer the question that s asked. You won t know what the question is in advance, so you ll need to think on your feet a little bit. But the questions won t be too difficult. They ll ask you about your opinions and experiences, so you won t need any information except for your own thoughts and memories. The GED prompt is really the blueprint for your GED essay. It tells you exactly what to write. Make sure that you answer everything that it asks, and you re a good part of the way to passing. Here s an example of a GED essay prompt:
3 Write Smart 375 What event from your childhood taught you an important lesson that you use today? In your essay, tell about the event, and explain how what you learned affects your life today. Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay. The prompt gives you everything you need to create your GED essay. First, it asks you a main question. What event from your childhood taught you an important lesson that you use today? You ll need to think about your experiences and figure out one thing that happened to you that taught you something. The next part of the prompt tells you what to put in your essay. First, tell about the event. That s easy. You ll tell the story of what happened. Then, explain how what you learned affects your life today. That has a couple of parts. First, you ll need to identify what, exactly, you learned. Then, you ll tell how that changed your life or affects your life. That s your whole essay. The last part of the question is important, and it s something you ll see in all GED prompts: Use your personal observations, experience, and knowledge to support your essay. That means, you need to use details about what you know. For this topic, that s fairly easy. You need to tell a story from your life, and that will include details of what happened to you. You also need to tell how you use the lesson you learned. Again, you ll need to tell details from your current life.
4 376 Write Smart Let the prompt guide you about what to write, and you ll score well on the GED essay. Organization: Is my writing organized? The GED readers expect your essay to be organized well, so it all works together and is easy to follow. Essentially, this means that your essay needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. It s pretty straightforward. If you re already familiar with the 5-paragraph essay structure, it s a good, workable structure to use for the GED essay. You re not required to have 5 paragraphs, though. It s more important that you write an essay that s logical, interesting, makes sense, and answers the question. The Beginning, or Introduction The beginning of your essay will be an introduction. Your introduction needs to tell what you re going to write about and get the reader s interest in what you have to say. You ll need to get across your main idea, or thesis, in the introduction. You don t need to restate the question. Think about the essay topic given above. Now, think about a typical GED essay reader, with a stack of dozens of essays to sift through. How many of those essays begin like this? An event from my childhood that taught me an important lesson that I use today is...
5 Write Smart 377 As soon as the reader starts reading this exact same sentence for the twentieth or thirtieth time, he or she has already decided that this definitely isn t a 4 essay. It s copying the essay prompt instead of stating something in your own words. Now, it s important to actually answer the prompt, but that doesn t mean copying the prompt word-for-word. A better approach is to briefly summarize the event (or at least give a hint about what it s about) and tell that it taught you an important lesson: Example Introduction: I remember, as a child, playing with my best friend. We were in the garden, which was overgrown for the summer. That day, I learned an important lesson that I ve carried with me ever since. I learned that I shouldn t be afraid to ask for help. This introduction makes it clear that you re answering the question in the prompt, but it doesn t just repeat the question. Plus, the wording is easier to follow than: An event from my childhood that taught me an important lesson that I use today is when I was playing in the garden with my best friend. That sounds much more awkward.
6 378 Write Smart The Middle, or Body The middle of your essay is the body. In a 5-paragraph essay structure, the middle has 3 paragraphs. Each paragraph addresses one point or argument that you want to make, and each point or argument relates to the main idea in the beginning of the essay. In the GED essay, 2 to 4 paragraphs is a good length for the middle of your essay, so the 5-paragraph essay structure falls right in the middle. Making three points, and then talking about each of them in one paragraph, is a good approach. But it s not always the best or easiest way to write about a particular topic. In the topic above, you need to tell a story about what happened, what you learned, and how you use that today. Those three things could become your three middle paragraphs. Or, you could write your middle paragraphs as story, to tell what happened as a child. Here s an example of each method: Three Different Points: My friend Jill and I were playing house, pretending to cook with the overgrown plants left in the garden. Instead of just pretending, though, we actually ate some leftover peppers on the vine. They were horribly hot, and our mouths stung. I didn t want Jill to tell what happened, but she told her parents. My parents weren t angry, and they gave me milk to stop the stinging.
7 Write Smart 379 I learned that it s okay to ask for help. I was afraid of being criticized or getting in trouble, but I didn t need to be afraid. I didn t have to go through the problem alone, and what if the peppers had been dangerous? I might have gotten sick. The best thing to do was to get help. Today, I use this lesson in my life every day. If I make a mistake, I am quick to tell others about it. It s better to get help and solve the problem than to let the problem get worse. If I m in trouble, I tell my friends and family. Sometimes they can help. At least, they can sympathize with me and make me feel better. Telling a Story: My friend Jill and I were playing house, pretending to cook with the overgrown plants left in the garden. Instead of just pretending, though, we actually ate some of the food. After all, this was the same food we picked and used in the kitchen. It seemed perfectly safe. We didn t realize that overgrown peppers left on the vine will get hotter and hotter as they grow. One bite, and our mouths started to sting. We didn t know what to do. I was very afraid of getting in trouble, so I made Jill promise not to tell anyone. I said we d be okay.
8 380 Write Smart Jill didn t keep the secret. She told her parents, and they told my parents. My parents confronted me, and then they were able to help me feel better. The peppers weren t dangerous, just really hot. My parents weren t angry, and they gave me milk to help relieve the taste of the peppers. I realized that I shouldn t have tried to handle the situation by myself. Asking for help was the right decision. Either type of body works. Both versions answer the question and keep to the main point. For many students, it s easier to tell a story about themselves than to break up the question into two or three different points. Either way, the middle of the story needs to contain details about what you know or what you experienced. The Ending, or Conclusion The last paragraph of your essay needs to be a conclusion. Many students think of a conclusion as just restating what you ve said before. But the truth is, a conclusion is much more effective if you ve got something new to say. Ask yourself:??? What did I learn? Why is this important? How does this affect other people? What can other people learn from this? Can I apply what I learned to bigger ideas and issues?
9 Write Smart 381 If you can think of something new and interesting to say about your experience, you ll have a great conclusion, and you ll leave the GED reader with a great last impression. If you use the storytelling route to write the body, you ve got a lot of material for your conclusion. You need to tell what you learned and how to use it today. In either case, you need to say something interesting that wraps up what you think. Example Conclusion: I was reluctant to ask for help because I was afraid and ashamed, but my fear was my enemy. I learned that fear makes problems worse. Asking for help makes them better. I use this lesson every day, when I immediately explain my mistakes at work, or when I call my sister to tell her about my problems. Even if others can t help me solve my problems, talking about them makes me feel better. Keeping things inside makes me feel worse. I m glad Jill told on me that day. She s made my life better.
10 382 Write Smart Development and Details: Did I give enough good details? I f you speak in generalities, you re not saying something very interesting. Take a look at this paragraph: I learned from a childhood experience that it s important to always ask for help. One might do something and get hurt, and then be afraid to tell anyone. If you tell someone, you can get help. But if you don t tell someone, the problem might get worse. This is true of many types of problems people have. The paragraph mentions a childhood experience, but it doesn t tell what that experience is. It mentions some things that might happen, in general, but it doesn t give specific examples. There aren t any stories here... any details of the writer s experiences. This type of writing isn t going to get a great score on the GED. Good details are very important. One of the best ways to get details in your writing is to tell a story. Think of an event that happened to you that relates to the topic, and tell about it. You know what happened, so it will be easy to write. Just be sure you re including details of what happened. Where were you? What did you do? Who else was there? Besides telling stories, there are other ways to get details into your writing. Try:! Asking questions to the reader. A question is interesting and gets the reader to start to think. Then, you need to answer your
11 Write Smart 383 own question in your writing, and this leads you to develop your essay.! Creating a picture with your words, starting with: Imagine..., Picture..., or Visualize... If you can create an image in the reader's mind (including sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch), you re using detail.! Saying something surprising or unexpected. This creates interest in the reader and leads you to explain what you mean, which will develop your writing.! Using quotes. You won t be able to look up quotes when you take the GED test, but you can remember things that friends or family members have said to you. Using someone s exact words adds detail. Conventions of EAE (Edited American English): Are there language mistakes, like spelling and grammar? EAE is Edited American English. Basically, EAE is the standard grammar, spelling, use of words, and sentence structure that is taught in classrooms around the U.S. The idea of this standard language is to make sure that writers in English can communicate with each other. That means avoiding slang, online shortcut spellings, or confusing sentences. You should be as clear as possible, and have as few mistakes as possible. If you have some gaps in your knowledge of English spelling, grammar, and punctuation, it can be difficult to avoid mistakes. The most important thing is to be clear, so that someone else can easily understand you. Here are some guidelines to help:
12 384 Write Smart! Before you take the test, try to identify common mistakes that you make in your writing and learn how to correct them. Most people can improve their writing a lot by focusing on a few common errors that they personally make, instead of studying lots of errors that other people make. Having other people read your writing and let you know what mistakes make it harder to read is a good way to find the errors you need to study.! Try to write in simple, complete sentences. Don t try to write something complex. If your sentence is getting really long, maybe you can divide it up into shorter sentences. Make sure every sentence has a subject, a verb, and a complete thought.! Read your essay to yourself. Try to hear the words in your head, as if they were spoken by someone else. Does it make sense to you? Would it make sense to a stranger who didn t already know what you re trying to say?! Make sure you re putting punctuation at the end of sentences, starting sentences with a capital letter, and capitalizing I. These are easy fixes to remember and improve your writing. The most important thing is to be clearly understood. If you have difficulty with sentence structure, write in short, simple sentences. Avoid overcomplicating what you re trying to say. And watch for the mistakes that you know are common in your own writing.
13 Write Smart 385 Word Choice: Did I choose the best words to say what I mean? The best way to improve your word choice is to improve your vocabulary how many words you know. It s not always easy to improve your vocabulary quickly, though. The best way to improve your vocabulary is to read a lot and pay attention to the new words that you find. Have a plan to figure out what the words mean. Still, it s a slow process, and there are some guidelines you can follow to improve your word choice.! Don t use words you don t know. Using the wrong word is much worse than using a simple, more general or overused word.! Be specific. Don t say person when you could say doctor or driver or any more specific word to describe the person you mean.! Think in advance of words to avoid or to use. Make notes for yourself of words to use or avoid: * Words to use: * Words to avoid:
14 386 Write Smart! Recognize words that are overused and too general. Here is a list of overused or general words to try to avoid. Write down more specific, engaging synonyms that you can use instead of these words: * very * really * bad * good * great * many, a lot * big * small * like * happy
15 Write Smart 387 * hard, difficult * help * important * interesting * know Look in your own writing for words that are very general, and add them to the list:
16 388 Write Smart