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Part 2, Lessons 1-5 Suggested Resources

This resource was written by Jaclyn Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

This resource introduces Part 2 of the GED preparation materials and discusses essay topic matter and methods of scoring.


In the second part of the GED Language Arts, Writing test, you will have 45 minutes to plan, write, and revise an essay. While it is recommended that you use the full 45 minutes for this part of the test, if you finish early, go back to work on the multiple-choice questions from Part I. Provided below is information about the essay topics. This section also explains how your essay will be scored. Lastly, the section discusses what readers are looking for when they score your essay.

Essay Topic

The topic provided—also called the writing prompt—will cover a subject of general interest. Responding to the topic will not require you to have specific knowledge of any subject area, but instead will require you to draw on your own experiences and observations. You will be asked to give an opinion or an explanation of something. A few sample essay topics are listed below.

Scoring Information

Your essay will be read by two trained essay readers who will each assign it a score from 1 to 4. The four possible essay scores are as follows:

It is important to know that essay readers perform what is known as “holistic” scoring, meaning that they give your essay a score based on their overall impression. The two readers’ scores are averaged to form one score for your essay. If your essay receives an average score of 2 or higher, this score is combined with your score from Part I to make a composite score for the Language Arts, Writing test. If it receives a score below 2, the testers will not assign a composite score. You will have to retake both parts of the Language Arts, Writing test.

There are five major standards that essay readers will use to evaluate your essay. Descriptions of these standards are listed below and are reprinted with permission of the American Council on Education.

  1. Response to prompt refers to how well the candidate responded to the topic, including whether or not the focus of the response shifted.
  2. Organization refers to whether or not there is evidence that the candidate had a clear idea about what he or she would write and was able to establish a definable plan for writing the essay.
  3. Development and details refers to the candidate’s ability to expand on initial concepts or statements through the use of examples and specific details rather than using lists or reiterating the same information.
  4. Conventions of Edited American English refers to the candidate’s ability to use appropriately edited written English, including the application of the basic rules of grammar, such as sentence structure, mechanics, usage, and so forth.
  5. Word choice refers to the candidate’s ability to use appropriate words to express an idea.

The lessons included in this resource are based on the five major areas that readers use to score your essay. You might recognize some of the key words and concepts discussed in these lessons from previous classes or reading. Even though the lessons are tailored to the GED essay, the ideas discussed in this resource may relate to writing situations you have encountered in the past or will encounter in the future. Studying these lessons will help you develop your writing skills for use in many situations in addition to the GED essay.

The following table, reprinted with permission of the American Council on Education, will help you further understand how the four-point scale and the five major scoring standards are used together to evaluate the essays.

Official GED Scoring Guide

     1  2  3  4
 Inadequate  Marginal  Adequate  Effective
Reader has difficulty identifying or following the writer's ideas. Reader occasionally has difficulty understanding or following the writer's ideas. Reader understands writer's ideas. Reader understands and easily follows the writer's expression of ideas.
Response to the Prompt Attempts to address prompt but with little or no success in establishing a focus. Addresses the prompt, though the focus may shift. Uses the writing prompt to establish a main idea. Presents a clearly focused main idea that addresses the prompt.
Organization Fails to organize ideas. Shows some evidenice of organizational plan. Uses an identifiable organizational plan. Establishes a clear and logical organization.
Development and Details Demonstrates little or no development; usually lacks details or examples or presents irrelevant information. Has some development but lacks specific details; may be limited to a listing, repetitions, or generalizations. Has focused but occasionally uneven development; incorporates some specific detail. Achieves coherent development with specific and relevant details and examples.
Conventions of EAE Exhibits minimal or no control of sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Demonstrates inconsistent control of sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Generally controls sentence structure and the conventions of EAE. Consistently controls sentence structure and the conventions of Edited American English (EAE).
Word Choice Exhibits weak and/or inappropriate words. Exhibits a narrow range of word choice. Often including inappropriate selections. Exhibits appropriate word choice. Exhibits varied and precise word choice.

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